MOVIE REVIEW: “F9” Proves The “Fast & Furious” Films Have Run Out Of Gas ★★☆☆☆

GOOD Morning Wilton‘s movie reviewer, Sebastian Hunt, is a recent graduate of Wilton High School who loves film and television and hopes to become a filmmaker himself one day. He’s already gotten a jump start on that, producing his own screenplays and planning on submitting his work to film festivals. You can learn more about Sebastian on GMW‘s “Our Team” page. 

The Fast & Furious films have already wasted an inordinate amount of my time (and most of the country’s, if box office returns are an indicator), so I’ll cut right to the chase: F9 is bloated, bonkers and totally boring. If you’re among the millions who derive enjoyment from this immortal Toyota Hilux of an action franchise, my review probably won’t be of much use to you. If you’re jaded and cynical about these films like me, welcome aboard.

F9 seeks to rejuvenate Fast & Furious’ wheezing narrative engine via introducing a new character, played by John Cena. Cena portrays Jakob Toretto, the screw-up kid brother of series protagonist Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). Having been driven to a life of crime by unresolved familial bitterness, Jakob is put into direct conflict with Dominic and his crew as they both pursue a world-ending, weapon-controlling MacGuffin.

Diesel, per expectation, is the only actor who still seems to give a hoot about anything happening onscreen. Nearly everyone else — Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Charlize Theron, etc. — is lost in the convoluted expanse of F9’s ensemble cast and phones it in. Cena delivers a fine-ish performance as Jakob, but frequently takes a backseat to Thue Ersted Rasmussen’s infuriatingly generic villain character.

I won’t exhaust too much energy dissecting the film’s screenplay. By now, the franchise is on cruise control; Diesel’s assembled team of hack writers effortlessly trot out the same tired thematic formula that’s been in place since Fast Five.

Perhaps part of me understands why the Fast & Furious “saga” is so popular. Audiences have a carnal desire for fast/exploding cars, and I sympathize — after all, I gleefully championed Godzilla vs. Kong almost solely on the basis of its delivery of unadulterated monster-on-monster action.

But F9 has a pulsing undercurrent of monotony to it. Practically every action sequence, regardless of elaborateness, feels forced and debilitated as director Justin Lin can’t even feign an interest in this series. And you know what, Justin? I can’t either. F9 has effectively drained my inner-gas tank, rendering me unable to produce a stimulating critique (is that how the series has avoided the widespread critical thrashing it deserves?), and now I’d like to lie down. Please, skip this one.

Ratings Key:

★ – Bad (e.g., Transformers, Pixels, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Justice League

★★ – Mediocre (e.g., Incredibles 2, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Super 8, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle)

★★★ – Good (e.g., Pretty in Pink, Batman, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective)

★★★★ – Great (e.g., Jurassic Park, The Empire Strikes Back, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Social Network)

★★★★★ – Amazing (e.g., Dr. Strangelove, The Terminator, Do the Right Thing, Toy Story, Parasite)