F9: The Fast Saga

F9: THE FAST SAGA, a.k.a. FAST 9, actual onscreen title: FF: F9, is not the Platonic ideal of a FAST AND FURIOUS movie. That would be FURIOUS 6 or FAST FIVE. But if Plato is anything like me he would’ve appreciated this one for what it is. I don’t know how much of a grump he was.

(lots of spoilers here of course)

This is the first FAST movie since 2003’s 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS that’s not written by Chris Morgan, instead being credited to Daniel Casey (KIN) & director Justin Lin (HOLLYWOOD ADVENTURES) with a story by those two & Alfredo Botello (uncredited revisions on TOKYO DRIFT). They’ve come up with a patchwork that certainly shows the dangers of a movie series going on for twenty years with at least half that time spent trying to top itself in size and ridiculousness each time out. But for me it has a much better balance of preposterous action and sincere melodrama than, at the very least, HOBBS & SHAW and FATE OF THE FURIOUS. It has more and better spectacle than your average movie, but also requires that you like the characters and themes of the series to enjoy it. In fact, in between a car somehow Tarzan-swinging across cliffs on a rope and another one being (as you’ve surely heard) launched into space, you’re gonna spend a surprising amount of time in 1989 when Dominic Toretto’s dad (J.D. Pardo, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2, SNITCH) was killed in a racing accident and Dom went to prison for beating another driver (Jim Parrack, FURY) with a wrench.

Of course, part of the reason for that is to explain how Dom (Vin Diesel, STRAYS) and Mia (Jordana Brewster, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING) have a never-mentioned-before brother named Jakob (John Cena, BUMBLEBEE), who Dom basically excommunicated from the family but who is now an agent of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell, hopefully paid handsomely for his half day of work here) gone rogue and has teamed with dictator’s son Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) to try to get a hold of the two halves of a key that form Project Aries, a device that, you know… conquers the world or whatever. With a satellite. And hacking. If you upload it or whatever, one of those type of deals. So Roman (Tyrese Gibson, DEATH RACE), Tej (Screen Actor’s Guild Award Winner Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, HUSTLE & FLOW) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel, Hollyoaks) show up at Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, RESIDENT EVIL)’s remote farm house and convince them to come drive cars/save the world, etc.

I had fun all the way through the movie, but for a while I kept thinking about how much they’ve definitely pushed this too far. It’s been silly since the beginning and I love that about it, but after a series of dialogue dumps needed to explain a bunch of twists and backstory about… some fucking spy shit about some fucking device? You know, I like that the series has evolved, but when these were about outlaw street racers with good hearts committing crimes they were more entertaining, more different from the other shit out there, and therefore contributed more to humanity than this spy movie stuff. And also the xXx series was created for that. Ask any scientist. It’s a fact.

But at the same time I was kind of surprised how slow and character-melodrama-based they were willing to start out. Treating the backstory of Dom’s dad and why he went to prison like it’s the Clone Wars – a thing we heard about in an earlier movie that we never thought we needed to know more about. At first I was surprised that Diesel didn’t insist on de-aging to play young Dom, which could’ve been a delight. But it’s not just one little flashback, it’s pretty extensive, so they have Vinnie Bennett (“Rookie Cop,” GHOST IN THE SHELL) as Young Dom and Finn Cole (Animal Kingdom) as Young Jakob.

I was honestly thrilled when I realized that these young versions were about to have a street race. Though of course it’s a prequel, taking place some time in the ‘90s, it’s also a throwback to the first three movies in the series, 15-20 years ago, in which scenes like this were a staple. I was also excited to spot someone I correctly guessed was Young Vince (Matt Schulze’s character in parts 1 and 5). And I was excited just to see the traditional “woman starts the race” even before I realized that was supposed to be Letty! She has camo pants ‘cause I guess it was too early for her platform boots and round sunglasses phase of 2001.

So as much as the movie seems overblown and silly beyond the point of no return it also has these full-on Young Fast & Furious Adventures throughout the movie, which are 100% sincere and non-jokey in the spirit of the first movie, at the same time as being a goofy thing we haven’t seen in any of the other ones. And they culminate in a scene where present day Dom super-hero fights a riot squad and collapses a building on them, thinking he’s sacrificing himself to protect Letty, and he has a near death experience that basically causes him to travel through time, witness his father’s fiery car crash death from a different perspective and come to a different understanding about his brother.

Soon after that we have the long climactic set piece that brings the whole movie together, a sort of evolution of the classic FAST FIVE safe sequence or FURIOUS 6 tank sequence crossed with the endless runway chase, this time involving multiple cars armed with powerful magnets chasing a long armored vehicle. And this is something I love dearly in movies – the action climax that’s also the emotional climax, when (THIS IS A BIG SPOILER) Jakob is betrayed by his fellow evil motherfuckers and has to fight them, and he falls off but Mia catches his hand and pulls him up, because even though he’s the bad guy, he’s her brother. She tells him to go, letting him take her (magnetically attached to the vehicle they’re on!) car, in what I initially saw as a callback to Brian letting Dom go in the first movie. And then (this is some Justin Lin genius here) Dom drives up so the two feuding brothers are able to glare at each other in two cars moving high speed but facing opposite directions. After having driven away, as if trying to escape, Jakob suddenly zooms in to help Dom with a multi-car maneuver to flip the vehicle they’re chasing, causing it to flip up completely vertical and then slam down in a move I suspect was intentionally designed to look like a suplex.

I really like the way the final step, when they use explosives to penetrate the bottom of the vehicle, plays out silently beneath Roman talking from orbit, making a decision to possibly sacrifice himself for the greater good. But it’s odd how it kind of buries the crucial moment when Dom and Jakob perform the FAST & FURIOUS tradition of climbing from vehicle to vehicle together.

Yes, it’s true, Roman and Tej have to fly a car into space. I know everybody thought that would be funny, and it kinda is, but to me the exciting part is that it’s tied to the long-awaited-by-me return of TOKYO DRIFT lead Sean Boswell (Lucas Black, THE X-FILES) in something more than a cameo. Accompanied by his Tokyo high school friends Twinkie (Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, “Kid Jumping On Couch,” Gin & Juice segment, MURDER WAS THE CASE: THE MOVIE) and Earl (Jason Tobin, BETTER LUCK TOMORROW) he now builds rocket cars in Germany for some reason. At first I was concerned that Sean was following the same pattern as Roman, Hobbs and Shaw of starting out as a real character and then deciding to only do wacky shtick. But at least it’s in line with some of the self-deprecating humor that leavened his mostly earnest leading man role in TOKYO DRIFT and made him so fun.

(But is someone else the D.K. now? Did he lose the title? Did he retire? Did he abdicate the throne?)

(Also I genuinely hope they bring Brian Tee’s D.K. character back in the next one. He was a dick then but people change. He’s a cool actor and his driving could just be constantly drifting. And he might bring Sonny Chiba with him.)

So yeah, Roman and Tej go into orbit in a space hooptie to magnetize a satellite. It’s unclear what their original plan for re-entry is, but they figure something else out. The jokiness (like some shit about Roman eating lots of candy?) is of questionable quality, and I kept thinking that when people said they wanted FAST to go into space weren’t they picturing it being done with a straight face? Wouldn’t that be way more delightful? But there’s a dumb moment that kinda made me accept it for what it was. Down on earth all this other shit is going on with the magnet cars and trying to stop a download or whatever and the team’s lead hacker Ramsey is doing the looking-at-computer-screens-and-saying-jargon-over-the-radio duty, and gets on Roman and Tej about not having destroyed the satellite yet.

You see, her two close friends were given scuba helmets, put into a souped up car and launched from a Stealth jet into space by three goofball middle aged recent high school graduates, and instead of worrying about their safety she snipes at them because she assumes they must be fuckin around up there. So that was the deadpan ludicrousness I was looking for. That sold it for me.

(It would also be funny if they ran into the EXPLORERS aliens up there.)

Back in September of 2020 Michelle Rodriguez did an interview where she accidentally revealed that yes, somebody goes to outer space in this one. It had been rumored or joked about enough that some guy called The Jesse Cagle Show asked her and she said, “How did you guys find that out? Man, when a movie doesn’t come out. Forget about it. Things get out.” The clip made the rounds (I saw it on Screen Crush) and taken as confirmation. I honestly thought she might be joking. But to me the real news in the clip came when she was talking about wanting to improve the writing for female characters in the series and how Lin brought on a female writer to help with that. She doesn’t exactly name the script doctor, but raves about her, says she’s African American and “from the hood” and that she worked on Westworld. But also, apparently forgetting that she wasn’t naming the writer, refers to her as “SLP.”

So you know me, I tried to figure out who this writer is that she’s talking about, and I came up with this theory that it could be Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize winning writer of the play Topdog/Underdog. She mostly works in theater, but she wrote Spike Lee’s GIRL 6 and Lee Daniels’ THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY and she’s the writer and showrunner of the Aretha Franklin season of Genius.

There’s one big hole in the theory: she’s not credited as ever working on Westworld. But she does use the nickname SLP (I heard Lee Daniels call her that on a podcast), and I haven’t been able to find any other writers (including those on Westworld) with those initials. And since Jeffrey Wright was one of the two original stars of Top Dog/Underdog, there’s a connection to explain why she could’ve been brought in to do uncredited work on that show. So I believe it’s possible that a Pulitzer Prize winner for drama was brought in to improve the female characters in F9. Or at least make Rodriguez happier about them.

I thought about that in the scene where Mia and Letty sit down together at an outdoor cafe in Tokyo. They’re talking about Dom and Jakob and Han but then Mia asks Letty how she’s doing and she opens up a little. It seems like a self-conscious decision to pass the Bechdel Test, but it’s a nice moment. Actually a thing I really liked was at the beginning when the crew find Dom and Letty at their off-the-grid-child-raising farmhouse and tell them about the mission. Dom turns them down, but Letty decides she has to do it, gets on her motorcycle and goes. Man, it is always the guy being stubborn and code of honory and the woman worrying about safety and being reasonable and taking care of children. I loved that they flipped it. (And Letty gets some good motorcycle action.)

I think I speak for all of civilization when I say that the main selling point for this one was that they brought back Han (Sung Kang, BULLET TO THE HEAD), previously killed (in the same incident) in parts 3 and 6. First it was just a car crash and then we learned that Deckard Shaw purposely crashed into him and blew up his car to get back at Dom for busting his brother, and this time we learn that in fact Han needed to hide out because of some other shit and used that to fake his death. I love that this one event has now been ret-conned twice, so when we watch TOKYO DRIFT we can now picture that Jason Statham and Kurt Russell are both there during that scene, just off screen.

(Of course, when I think about it I’m still unclear what happened – Shaw must’ve really been trying to kill him, but Mr. Nobody saw it coming and knew exactly where it would happen and that Han could crawl out unseen?)

But the point is Han is back, and this is one of the few action franchises that trusts the audience to want to see alot of hugging. Everybody here believed Han was dead for years, turns out he’s not, so they gotta hug him. When Dom first sees him there’s some tension there, seems like he may be rightfully mad about being misled and put through that. But then he just comes over and gives Han a big long hug. And Jakob is in a holding cell, watching this through a little window, enraged that his biological brother has this brotherly connection with someone not blood-related. The lack of subtlety made me chuckle, but also reminded me why I love these movies.

Part FATE is not one of my favorites of the series, but I seem to have enjoyed it more than some. Still, I think Lin brings much more excitement to the action scenes. In the first movie they had straight up jumping-from-a-car-to-a-truck type stunts, these days I’m sure there’s even more stuntwork involved, but it’s combined with a huge amount of effects work to do the not-even-pretending-not-to-be-impossible. So there’s a Dom vs. Jakob rooftop chase scene that turns into jumping across the tops of vehicles. Dom hangs off the back of a bus so it’s a little bit Jackie Chan, but mostly it seems like an intense game of Frogger.

I really appreciate that it stays very true to the rule I have believed since FURIOUS 6, that no matter how far a body is catapulted or dropped, as long as it hits a car on the way down it’s okay. It reminds me of childhood playground rules like “the cement is lava” or “I have a force field.” Touch a car on the way down and you’re safe. It happens multiple times in this, and I love it.

It also occurred to me that the kind of stuff that was amazing but also very artificial looking in the freeway chase of THE MATRIX RELOADED is now expanded on pretty effortlessly here. If anybody has a time machine that they don’t mind using for frivolous things, please go back to 2003 when 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS came out a month after THE MATRIX RELOADED and tell me, “Just you wait until FAST AND THE FURIOUS PART 9.” I’ll assume you’re making one of those hacky jokes like, “I like some horror but not like SAW part 32 or whatever they’re on ha ha ha wouldn’t that be crazy.”

Let’s talk fashion for a minute. I love the implication that Mr. Nobody captured Cipher (Charlize Theron, 15 MINUTES) and allowed her to remain in her amazing red leather pants, black tank top and sports coat ensemble, and then when her ownership was transferred to Jakob and Otto they still let her look amazing while on display in the middle of a hangar in a Magneto cage. (How does she go to the bathroom though?) Theron is one of the best actors of her generation and maybe it’s kind of a shame that they have her doing bullshit like messing with Jakob’s head and/or providing backstory by psycho-analyzing him as jealous of his brother. But also it wouldn’t be as cool if it was anybody else. She makes it fun. Especially the wink.

Furthermore, I genuinely love that in the jungle sequence early on, when they’re going to find Mr. Nobody’s plane knowing full well they may be attacked by the military, Dom chooses to go in a white t-shirt and jeans. With few exceptions this holds up for the whole family through the movie. Jakob and his team are kitted out with black armor, boots and weaponry, but our guys are like no, fuck that, I’m wearing my cool jeans and leather jacket or whatever. It’s great because #1, these movies absolutely do not need the quasi-realism that most action movies feel is important, #2 it’s a nice rejection of the genre’s standard fetishism for military gear, and #3 it makes it easier to tell who’s who. Dom is the one wearing the white shirt. Easy to spot.

Also a drawback of wearing all that kevlar and shit is that it clutters your physical form. So Martyn Ford, the main opponent in BOYKA: UNDISPUTED (also in ACCIDENT MAN and FINAL SCORE) plays Otto’s main bodyguard, and he looks pretty tall, but you can’t tell that he’s a 6’8” 320 pound Incredible Hulk and a Bane melted together into one giant mass. (Or maybe he slimmed down?) He has a good fight though, against (SPOILER) Jakob on top of a moving truck and involving some wrasslin’ type moves.

One of the minor series characters who shows up unexpectedly is Shea Whigham (BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS)’s FBI agent character Stasiak. But I guess it’s been a while since I watched part 6 all the way through, because it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized his crooked nose bone was a joke about the fact that Brian O’Conner broke his nose in parts 4 and 6. I was worried that Whigham had gotten himself into some trouble!

How do I review F9 as a movie when it’s not just a movie? This was a long anticipated life event for many reasons. There’s the fact that it’s the ninth or tenth installment of a series I’ve been loving since whenever I saw the first one on video (so, something close to 20 years). It also marks the return of the series’ best director Justin Lin after an 8 year absence (his last time, FURIOUS 6, being my favorite). And we knew he’d brought Han with him.

And of course when it was almost upon us there was, you know, the whole global pandemic thing to delay it. In my movie-damaged brain that’s actually a major point on the Covid-19 timeline, because after the James Bond movie was postponed a few months, F9 surprised everybody by pushing its date back an entire year. That was honestly one of the first things to make me realize how serious shit was getting (although at the time I naively thought it was about the Chinese box office and not the whole world). THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS knew what was up before most of the world. Definitely most of this country.

I was glad they didn’t dump it to streaming like some would’ve-been event movies. I didn’t want it it in my living room yet. That’s for later. The Fast Family projected on a screen was the light at the end of the tunnel for me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that when vaccines became available my only time consideration was being fully vaxxed before June 25th.

I believe it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to go to movies, but the building was mostly empty anyway. A little sad not to experience with a real crowd, but at least I got to be back in my church. And I feel like I neither let the movie be crushed by impossible expectations or overly elevated because it was my first time in a theater since THE INVISIBLE MAN about 16 months ago. (Not that the latter would’ve been bad.)

Mrs. Vern had some uninitiated co-workers asking which couple of FASTs they could watch over the weekend if they wanted to go see this. I just couldn’t answer. It’s most closely connected to part 1, but I think you’d get whiplash jumping directly from that straightforward street-racing-POINT-BREAK-ripoff to this international absurdist soap opera theme park ride. It brings back four characters from 3, but the more relevant part of the Han story happened on the end credits of 6. You’d have to see 7 to know what the fuck Mr. Nobody is all about and 8 for Cipher. And I guess you don’t need to know when and how Letty lost her memory, but that might raise eyebrows when it’s mentioned.

My point is I don’t really know how to discuss these without assuming I’m talking to someone who has seen all the previous ones (or at least most of them), just going through a list of elements and discussing them. But if this review is long and uneven and all over the place but pretty fun if you’re into the shit then consider it my impression of the movie.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2021 at 7:01 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

122 Responses to “F9: The Fast Saga”

  1. I liked it, but this is the first movie since before FAST FIVE that didn’t feel like an escalation. Shapeless and lacking in both momentum and high-concept set-piece concepts, it feels like one of those table-setting episodes of TV where by the time we’ve checked in with all the characters, there’s no time for the story to advance. I blame the fact that it seems like The Rock got Chris Morgan in the divorce. It very much feels like the director (who feels more confident on a shot by shot level but totally checked out on the drive to up the ante in any way) sat the cast down and asked them what kinds of things they’d like to see their characters do. Which has the upside of ensuring that everybody (even Ramsey!) has a moment or two to shine but does fuck-all to give the film any momentum whatsoever. The Jim Henson’s Fast & Furious Babies segments are delightful on their own in that absurd yet earnest F&F way but they drag down the present tense story while delivering very little that wouldn’t have been better accomplished by letting Cena and Diesel interact more. Their entire conflict felt like it happened to somebody else.

    The whole movie feels like a lateral move; good fun for us weirdos who care about these characters for some reason, but not big or bold enough to stand out on its own.

    It’s a movie of moments. Helen Mirren getting to flirt and drive. Roman becoming self-aware. Cypher’s little Yoda speech. Mia getting to fight. Dom throwing like 30 dudes over the same railing in the span of a minute. The movie expecting us to believe that Vin Diesel was at one point in their adulthood taller than John Cena. Nobody mentioning Hobbs once. All entertaining. But it’s just a string of scenes, not a compelling thrill ride. I can’t imagine non-superfans will get a goddamn thing out of it.

  2. After I saw this I said it wasn’t the best one but it wasn’t the worst one. Now, I’m kind of rethinking that “worst one”. I’m not saying it’s bad or anything, just that it might be bottom ranking. Hmm, I’ve never thought about the ranking of the series before. I’d say, for sure, my top would be either 5 or 6. Bottom would be either 4 or Tokyo Drift. But, to get back to this one. It was fine. It was fun. I liked Han coming back. I thought the women actually did have better parts in this one than most, if not all, of the installments. The action made me laugh in both how ridiculous it was, but also just pure enjoyment.

    Honestly, I think the biggest problem is the lack of Brian and there’s nothing they can do about that. They obviously agreed with everyone and their dog that Little Nobody was not going to cut it because they didn’t even mention his absence. I guess maybe they’re going to try bringing in the blood brother to replace the chosen brother? Maybe it’ll work out, but I just didn’t feel the same chemistry with Dom. Not only is it missing the core relationship – the bromance, but losing Paul Walker made a hole in the make up of the team because he was the one with the cop mind and experience, plus he was the best fighter they had. Vin Diesel has the physical menace, but Paul had that real fighting experience with his martial arts training that made the fighting more dynamic.

  3. I appreciate the idea that this movie tries to do the emotional climax as a part of the action climax, but personally I thought they blew it. Cena’s face turn is more or less taken for granted, hinted at by the midway point and then not even really properly motivated when it does happen. What would he have done if the other bad guys didn’t betray him? Presumably he would have just continued to be a bad guy. That makes it really unsatisfying to me. If we’re supposed to care about this relationship and his redemption, then his change of heart should have been earned, not just something that arbitrarily happens because that’s how this series rolls.

    Also, doesn’t it kind of suck that this movie bends over backwards to bring Han back, and then doesn’t really give him anything interesting to do?

    Also I feel like people are talking about that baffling Cardi B scene enough.

  4. *Aren’t talking about it enough

  5. Also anybody else find it weird that as far as the movie can tell Kurt Russell’s body is lying out in the jungle somewhere getting eaten by fire ants and nobody gives a shit? For a second I thought they were pulling some “Han in carbonite” shit with him but the fact that this pal and benefactor of theirs is missing following a massive plane crash does not seem to be high on anyone’s priorities list. I assumed the post-credits scene would delve into it but SPOILER no. Any theories on what the thinking here was? Or was Chris Morgan the guy they paid to do the thinking for them?

    Also also, this film provides more evidence for my Unified Theory of Fast And/Or Furious Quantum Dynamics (see the F8 comments—look how close I came with my only half-joking prediction that Sean would become a mad scientist!), what with new character Elle aging ten years in roughly the same span that Brian II ages four. We may never fully understand the life cycle of the North American Gravel-Throated Toretto but we come a little closer with every new specimen we are allowed to observe in its natural habitat.

  6. Oh, and that final shot before the credits is ghoulish and really rubbed me the wrong way. I know that, in canon, Brian is alive, but emotionally and thematically he passed with Paul Walker. His car pulling up at the end feels like a cruel joke, or an unhealthy delusion. It’s like the end of ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD except the spooky, unsettling feeling isn’t intentional.

  7. I haven’t seen this yet, and I’m not one of the site’s bigger Fasters, more of a Furyan, but I feel a bit bad about how this has been received, at least the key moment that has been SPOILERED IN THE REVIEW AND ELSEWHERE ON THE INTERNET AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE SPOILERED BELOW. For years people have been saying “ha ha, you guys should go to space, that would be awesome lol”, and they do it and the reaction was “oh God, I can’t believe you actually did that, I was joking you idiot, you’re so dumb [5 x crying laughing emojis]”. They felt they were playing with the fun playful side of the internet from the 10s, and it turned out they’ve been speaking to the cruel, mocking side of the internet from the 00s. That’s better than getting a response from the dark side of the modern internet, but still.

    Maybe they knew that might happen though, as I suspect the scene here was a trial balloon, and if it had gone down well, FX would have been a full blown “Dom in a moon buggy” romp.

  8. Yeah, when everybody said they should go to space it was implied that we meant, like, to the moon or something. Somewhere they could, you know, drive and not just float around. Driving is pretty important to this series you guys. Not sure if you noticed that. It’s subtle but it’s there.

  9. Eh, I still think it’s funny that they drive a car into low earth orbit.

  10. It’s not NOT funny. But that’s all it is. The jaunt to space is not, in itself, a thrilling set-piece. I feel like if they’re going to bother going to space at all, there should be a whole moon buggy chase full of jumps that are even less encumbered by the laws of gravity than the ones set on Earth.

  11. Gotta save SOMETHING for the sequel

  12. ROMAN: “Dammit! I somehow left Dom’s cross necklace on the moon!”

    DOM: “It’s cool. I know a guy at Cape Canaveral.”

    *cut to Ja Rule as security guard at building marked PERSONAL SPACE SHUTTLE WAREHOUSE*

  13. What was with the comment Cipher made to Jakob about having a Nordic (or whatever it was) chin and not thinking there was any such heritage in the Toretto line? I thought for a split second we were going full telenovela and he was going to be an imposter. Or was she just hinting at him having a different father? But nothing came of it. In this movie anyway.

  14. I like Charlize in this. She makes a good Bond villain and was one of the few good things i liked in Fast 8.

  15. Great review Vern. I had a similar reaction, I enjoyed it but wondered maybe the Fast franchise has already reached the pinnacle of absurd over the top action and can’t go further with out becoming cartoonish parody or maybe at this point I am nub to it but this felt less inspired than 5-8. It feels like the franchise is in transition & struggling to form a new identity with no Brian, Hobbs or Shaw.

  16. I wonder if we had seen FF9 last year in-between the new Bond, Black Widow, WW84, Tenet, etc if we would have been as forgiving as we are now… this is the first movie i see in theater since Tenet last August, and just being in the cinema made me happy. And FF9 for all its flaws, was a perfect movie to bring you back to the big screen.
    For some reason, FF9 reminded me of Moonraker – there is the same laziness from the producers to go overboard with a proven formula and by that losing the ‘urgency’ that made you feel involved. If you remember Moonraker, it is the one with too many gadgets that make no sense, it is the one when they brought back a popular henchman for no specific reason (Richard Kiel’s Jaws) and obviously it is the one where 007 goes to space. As much as i did enjoy FF9 for what it is, i think that the stunts are getting so over the top that you eventually disconnect. It is just eye candy, but no ‘wow’ feeling. For me, FF5 and its final chase in Brazil with the massive safe being pulled behind the cars is still the benchmark to beat.
    After Moonraker, Bond producers decided to go back to basics with For Your Eyes Only (simple plot, no gadget, no crazy henchman, solid stunts)… let’s hope that they do the same for FF10!!!

  17. I’m with Vern and Maggie. It’s not one of the best Fasts but that doesn’t make me furious. It definitely doesn’t justify being the longest entry of 10 movies but the highlights are fun. But to put a finer point on what Maj and Pac-Man observed, I think the whole movie feels crowdsourced. Like “Oh, you want to see this and this? Well here you go!”


    Yes, we all wanted them to go to space and to bring Han back. So they did, in both cases probably lackluster ways compared to our imaginations, but they did. And yeah, we also wanted Letty to be alive so they did that for us before, but maybe it’s time to stop crowdsourcing these stories. I hope they got it out of their system and have some new ideas we aren’t expecting in 10-11.

    I don’t know if people were asking for the series to get self-referential like Roman questioning their survival. I definitely don’t want that because as soon as they get ironic, it breaks the sincerity of these movies. But that was only a few minutes, only a few more minutes than the gymnastics girl in Lost World.

    But to Maj and Pacman’s points. It definitely tracks that the actors got to make requests, and yes they listened to the Internet a bit too literally. Although as Vern points out I think we wanted sincere space, not laugh along “haha can you believe we’re doing this?”

    But I did like the young Dom/Jakob street race and I definitely approve of a young Dom spinoff. And the look when Dom and Han hug was my favorite part.

    Even tho nobody remembers in 4 Mia saying “how do you say goodbye to your only brother?” And in 5 she says “I’ve already lost my family once. I’m not losing it again.” Technically she’s already lost them twice by that point. I know they cut Jakob out of their lives, but it seems like something that would’ve come up in some of those extreme circumstances.

  18. Fred, they aren’t very good at keeping track of siblings. In 8 when Hobbs was going into the prison he started to ask Mr Nobody about his daughter and Nobody replied that she’s with Hobbs sister. Then in HOBBS AND SHAW suddenly her family tree is only herself and her father.

  19. I thought this was mostly enjoyable but also I was pretty disappointed. In my opinion, FIVE was such an extraordinary high, SIX and SEVEN were worthy successors, but EIGHT was a pretty significant step down, and now NINE is another significant step down from even EIGHT. There’s still stuff to enjoy, like this review says, and like Majestyk says in his comment, but I can’t help but think the special sauce is gone, most likely forever. (That’s not a travesty or anything, diminishing returns were inevitable, it’s miraculous this franchise was able to achieve what it achieved.)

  20. JTS, Young Dom followed by Lil Jack and Lil Brian will reinvigorate the franchise. Just let 10-11 run its course.

  21. The Undefeated Gaul

    June 29th, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    Damn, looks like this won’t be the movie to get me back in a movie theater after all. On the one hand that’s disappointing but on the other I have to admit I wasn’t quite mentally ready for it yet anyway. Maybe I will be by the time Bond comes out.

  22. Edgard – I would be totally down with 10 taking a step down from the absurdity of the action to focus more on lean and mean thrills as For Your Eyes Only did after Moonraker. FYEO is my favourite Bind film and is chock-full of awesome action and suspense sequences.

    I’m still ridiculously excited for this though, and having had jab 2 yesterday, I’m going to be sat in my usual seat (4th row, centre) two weeks today with a big ass bucket of popcorn and a shit eating grin on my face!

  23. I guess the question is how could they scale it back? MOONRAKER is not actually *that* different structurally or stylistically from DR. NO, it’s the subject matter and tone that differentiate it so. And the Bond movies had fairly minimal continuity and certainly character development across films. Would the huge audiences that have turned up for the later FASTs turn out for or accept a film more in the style of the first or 2 FAST? I guess even a FAST FIVE or SIX style adventure would be scaling it back a bit at this point.

  24. I have to say, I laughed for a good five minutes thinking about Dom and Letty on the farm, doing their laundry, and having 80 wife beater t-shirts.

  25. When the movie ended I waited for the screenplay credits and my suspicion was correct: Chris Morgan was nowhere to be found. I believe, as Majestic already said, that Chris had a good grasp of how to evolve the series and keep continuity while making each new installment exciting.
    He rewrote almost the whole of F7 because of Paul walker’s death, and with a directors who had done ONLY horror and was new to the franchise, the end product was still satisfying.
    On F8 and with yet another new director and NO Brian he still kept us on our toes and going with the movie. But this F9 (as Majestic said too) is a jumbled mess of ideas and unconnected “we know you wanted to see this” scenes. When Helen Mirren is shoehorn Ed in for a chase, the freakin’ music turns into a James Bond spoof!!!! As if we’re watching a bad parody.
    There is no emotional connection to anything, no stakes WHATSOEVER to make you invested in the movie. Scenes just Happen. Han comes back and gives the lamest most idiotic excuse for living, brushing it of as “Mr Nobody is good at magic tricks” or whatever. Make him crippled. Make his have burn scars and having crawled while being burned “two-face” style out of the car. Make him a villain. Make him in cahoots with Statham DO SOMETHING WE CAN BELIEVE IN.
    I believe this is the worst of the franchise for sure. I even saw ALL the movies one by one the previous 2 weeks with a pair of fresh eyes (my girlfriend) seeing them with me, and F9 was a BIG disappointment for both of us. There’s no “wow” factor to the stunts as well since they’re all so cig-enhanced or cgi-tottaly-made that you feel nothing watching them.
    I hope they get a truck full of money and back it up and dump them on Chris Morgan’s lawn for the next two. You don’t just change the guy who wrote everything from F3 to F8 with the guy who previously wrote only “KIN” and a director who previously wrote only his first couple of indies.

  26. “with a director who had done ONLY horror ”

    DEATH SENTENCE says hello.

  27. When you think about it this franchise is like a drawn out version of the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT trilogy.

  28. Does that mean the last one will have The Rock playing both the villain and hero until its reshoot following unsuccessful test screenings?

  29. I’m with Petrosmt. Chris Morgan had a way of keeping all the “connect the dots between this action sequence and that action sequence” scenes fun & charming despite everything, and this movie sorely lacked that touch. Add on too much CG but not enough car action, and this is in the lower ranks for sure.

  30. I saw an interview where Lin called the movie “recalibrating” the series, bringing back characters and introducing new ones to set the plate for the two-part finale he’s been talking about (but not really expecting to actually make) with Diesel and even Walker since way back. That’s kind of a sad thing to say because it explains but doesn’t justify the shortcomings people are discussing here. But it could be reason to be hopeful that the next one will improve on some of that.

    I can’t deny the complaint here that they brought Han back and then didn’t really give him anything to do. But the credits scene brings up the possibility of a more central role in the next one, or at least some interesting stuff addressing what has gone on with Shaw. (Also, Kang pointed out in an interview that his real beef is with Owen Shaw for the death of Giselle.)

    FAST & FURIOUS was super exciting for me at the time, but in retrospect seems like possibly the weakest entry, mostly just serving as a bridge between TOKYO DRIFT and FAST FIVE. Maybe this will be a much wackier version of that.

    I don’t think this is where they’ll go since they still have Cipher and M.I.A. Mr. Nobody to deal with, but I would love if they pick up with Jakob on the run, Hobbs and others trying to capture him and use that as a bridge to bring Dom and friends back into the outlaw fold. And/or they gotta have the agency outright betray them. They can’t end this thing working for The Man! Did Brian turn his back on law enforcement and let Dom go at the end of part 1 for nothing?

  31. OK CJ Holden. If we make it “87.5% only horror movies plus one Thriller” would he have been more or less qualified for a Fast & Furious movie?

  32. I’m gonna keep defending Fast & Furious. Maybe after 5, 6, and 7 it seems mild (Altho the opening tanker heist is still my favorite sequence in the series). But it’s got great stuff in it.

    This is where Dom, Brian and Mia really hash out everything that happened in the first movie. So yeah, it takes itself more seriously but it’s legitimate baggage that’s been ignored for two films in between. It’s all building towards Dom
    deciding to turn himself in and Brian fully committing to the outlaw life when the system doesn’t grant Dom any clemency.

    The worst part about it is killing off Letty which they quickly corrected in the next two films. Plus, it’s not boring. I love the idea that Brian is so bad ass he just beats up other agents, and the midpoint street race is wild. Even if you don’t like the tunnel sequences, they’re preceded by a massive desert chase.

  33. Petrosmt, while I agree that James Wan was a bit of a leftfield choice to helm an action blockbuster, he had done by that point more action movies (and more movies in general) than Justin Lin when he came to the F&F franchise.

  34. Pac, I was thinking more that we’ve gone from “It’s all about the cool black Trans Am”, via elephant jokes, to a secondary character drving through cardboard boxes hauling a camper. But of course I like the series too much for jokes like that…

  35. These are all excellent points, Fred. I guess the reason it doesn’t hold up as well as others for me is just the tunnel chase – it was a funny goof at the time but not as well executed as the TOKYO DRIFT race, and then so definitively overshadowed by the envelope pushing climaxes of FIVE and 6. But yes, Walker gets much cooler in it, the opening is great, and I will add that I love the part where Dom envisions Letty’s accident and figures out who’s responsible by touching and smelling the oil in the street. That is the perfect tone of totally-serious-but-absurd that I would love to see them move back to.

  36. It is weird that nobody gives Part & any credit for reviving the series; FIVE is always given credit for being the turnaround, fair enough if you’re talking about personal preference or critical reception, but I think people forget the general “cuh, yeah, *that’s* what people are clamouring for, ha, ha” reaction (including from me) when the “New Model. Original Parts.” poster dropped, and how unlikely it seemed that it would be a hit. Love it or hate it TOKYO DRIFT seemed like it was a real last gasp in 2006, even 2 FAST seemed like kind of a stretch, and only a few months earlier after Vin floundered in BABYLON AD following a near four year gap from multiplexes (and that had been THE PACIFIER) it seemed certain a direct to video future was in the wings for him. That huge opening weekend was incredible.

  37. Yeah, I think it’s odd how people forgot that by part 3 the series was the last step before cheap DTV sequels, if they would have made any more sequels at all. But what baffles me the most is how hated part 4 is! For a movie that brought the series into the a-list, the fans sure dislike it a lot.

  38. My memory of FAST & FURIOUS is that it peaks with its opening, which is always disappointing. I’ve only seen most of these once, when they first came out, so maybe I’ll feel differently if I revisit, but I’ve always considered it my least favorite. But I don’t like 8 or 9 much more.

  39. For me, the FAST series doesn’t even get interesting until PART &, which was the one that really got me onboard the series for the first time. That’s the one that made me see FAST FIVE in the theater despite having almost zero interest in the series up to that point. Those first three barely even register for me anymore. The first one is like a TV movie or something, a perfectly fine little melodrama with a couple of car chases in it. If not for the rest of the series making it retroactively more interesting, I doubt I’d have watched it more than once. 2FAST is just a stupid, shoddy piece of garbage that’s fun to laugh at. But even that’s better than TOKYO DRIFT, which is outright dull after the excellent opening scene. A boring non-plot with no stakes and no action, once again made retroactively more interesting only by later entries and their insane continuity. On its own it’s almost impressively uninvolving. like I have no idea what anybody sees in it. So as lumpen and misshapen as F9 is, it’ll still never be lower than fourth worst for me.

  40. For me, FAST 4 resuscitated a flat-lining franchise. But it’s 5 which gave it it’s second wind. It still remains my absolute favorite.

    FAST 2 is the worst but my blu-ray still gets the odd replay thanks to the presence of a pulse-raising, drop-dead and stone cold gorgeous Eva Mendes. Michelle Rodriguez is a mixed bag for me at the best of times, but bringing her back when the lovely Mendes got saddled with the worst installment and then trotted out for a post-credits cameo in FIVE is just fucking sad.

    I have a soft spot for TOKYO DRIFT. It’s the KARATE KID of the series, with Han as a chilled out Mr. Miyagi and Lucas Black’s ‘Bama Boy as a more likeable Daniel-san in some places.

  41. And here’s another shout out to the much maligned (and deservedly so) FAST 2: I maintain Cole Hauser is by far the Fast Franchise’s best Villain. Look, no disrespect to the other baddies, but think about it: Brian Tee’s spoilt asshole wannabe gangster was just too lightweight in 3, John Ortiz’ Braga never for one second seemed like a threat in 4, Joaquim de Almeida’s Reyes issued orders from behind a desk in 5, and Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw just came across as a polished dandy in 6. The Stath in 7? C’mon, The Stath was brought in to do what The Stath does best: Up an action series’ action bad-assery quotient. And even Theron’s Ice Queen Cipher didn’t seem to be doing too much in 8.

    But Hauser’s Carter Verone is a twisted, chilling, malevolent motherfucker. He wasn’t on some world domination agenda . Dude wanted to move drugs and had no qualms about torturing a dirty cop with a live rat and a blowtorch. I like that kind of grounded shit with my villains. I say bring back Carter Verone for 10 and let Diesel and Hauser have their PITCH BLACK reunion.

    And Special Agent Monica Fuentes as well. Pretty please.

  42. I still hope that Part 10 brings back Ted Levine. Just to bring it full circle.

  43. Vern, yes! I love Dom’a CSI auto accident whisperer schtick.

    And thank all of you who point out how 4 saved the franchise. It’s fine if people want to say 5 set the artistic tone but it’s absolutely bonkers that people ignore the then series high opening and total box office. Like, do you think they pay The Rock and bother making Fast Five at all if 4 wasn’t a hit?

    If you don’t like the tunnels that’s fine. I do, but I also point out they begin with a massive, practical desert chase. I think the middle street race doesn’t get enough love either.

    Honestly 5 is still my least favorite. After the high of 4 it just feels generic to me. The train and safe sequences are great but I’m sorry, a foot chase through favelas and military attack on Hobbs’ convoy doesn’t do it for me. And all the heist prep means nothing since they just yank the vault out of the police station in the end.

    What improved 5 on rewatch for me is mainly Paul is in the whole thing. Didnt realize how precious that was back in 2011. It’s sort of a hang out movie where you just spend time with these characters bookended by two series best set pieces. 6 is where it clicked back in for me but hey, if 5 is what made the world love this series as much as I had since 2001 then it’s still part of the family.

  44. I agree, Pacman. Having loved TOKYO DRIFT and been thrilled by the original cast members returning for Lin in the next one, and having put up with snobbery about it from the Ain’t It Cool talkbacks and most of the popular reviewers, I kind of resented everyone coming aboard on FAST FIVE. You’ve been turning your nose up to this series for ten years and now all the sudden you’re a fan? But of course I had to let that go. It was for the best.

  45. Franchise Fred

    July 1st, 2021 at 5:06 pm

    Vern, I still feel that way a little bit. Especially because I was on the Universal lot in 2001 excited to interview the cast while all my colleagues were complaining about having to talk to those no names.

    It sort of reminds me of when I was in high school and I’d see an awesome movie opening weekend and talk it up. I’d be dismissed for being the movie freak. Then all the cool kids would discover it six months later on video, and even when they talked it up I’d try to join in and say, “Yeah, isn’t that movie great?” But I’d still be dismissed as “whatever Fred.”

    So, most of the folks who cover the series now weren’t even in the business in 2001. To be fair only myself and one other guy from that junket still are. At least it’s better than high school because we all share our love for the series, but I do have that nagging feeling of being dismissed from 2001 – 2009. I should let it go like Vern did.

  46. Can we talk about John Cena? I found it to be a dull, monotone performance – he brought the same energy and intonation to every line and every scene. I know he’s got big shoes to fill in a Rock-less installment and a comparison to Dwayne is unfair. Still, it’s pretty rough when the younger version of your character shows more depth and range yet that young actor’s primary credential is “looks kinda like John Cena.”

    I’m willing to see how he does in the next installment though. The script wasn’t doing him any favors (but you could say the same of Charlize Theron’s character and she still found ways to make it fun).

    Mr. Majestyk: I saw this with someone who was brand new to the franchise – I warned him this wasn’t the place to jump in but he would not be swayed. The movie did a great job for him of providing just enough context on the relationships with one glaring exception we discussed after the end: “Who is this Nobody guy, what is their relationship to him, and what on earth was supposed to have happened to him?” He found that whole plotline just as confusing and jarring as you did.

  47. Intruder alert. I have only seen Part 4 a few years back and some of part 5 and have tried to watch but don’t I’ve finished 1 or 2. Did I mention I’m pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADHD?

    For an outsider who cannot bring himself to finish one of these films — not for lack of ever trying — what is the insider’s perspective on why you like these films. I understand *that* you like Kang and *that* you have mixed but mostly good feelings that they brought Letty back, but I never get a good sense of what it is about this franchise that engenders the depth and extent of emotional attachment and sheer enthusiam for these films that is on display in the discussions over the years. The emotional attachment and enthusiasm come through loud and clear (and I believe in the sincerity, it’s obvious), but I never get a sense of the connective tissue that holds it all together or the beating heart that animates such passion.

    I sincerely want to feel a level of joy and enthusiasm for something in my own life that matches this. If I can understand this, it may unlock some things for my own life. That is why I am asking.

    Is it just the comfort of the continuity and familiarity — the cumulative bonding over the years? But you don’t feel this way about IRON MAN. I’m not even sure you feel this way about ROCKY and CREED. So, it’s gotta be something more and other than just time and repetition and convoluations, right? Is it that it transports you to a time when you were younger. Is it the cross-cultural aspect of a true multicultural brotherhood-sisterhood? Eye candy? I feel like maybe I kind of track some of the parts, but the whole eludes my grasp. I can think of reasons for affection, I just don’t have a handle on a set of reasons or an overall narrative that explains the extent of the affection.

    I must know! Let’s study this and harness it in an undiluted form and then use it to achieve world peace or the end all clinical depression or something.

  48. Franchise Fred

    July 2nd, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    Because it’s awesome.

    I don’t mean to be glib. I sincerely believe in this philosophy. These movies are trying to be awesome, and that they do it with the sincere, diverse cast melodrama is outstanding.

  49. I think I *do* feel this way about ROCKY and CREED, and I know many younger people definitely have a very emotional attachment to the Marvel characters, but I don’t know how similar it is.

    I think it’s all the things you mention, but yes, it’s also much more than that. I think the source of it goes back to the relationship between Dom and Brian in the first and fourth films, which is basically POINT BREAK if Bodhi lived at the end and then he and Johnny became life long best friends. For all the talk of “bromance” in American pop culture there hasn’t always been room to celebrate a strong, brotherly friendship and loyalty between two men. And there’s something very appealing about this specific juxtaposition of cartoonish macho (giant muscles, car obsession, “ride or die” loyalty) and melodrama – I mentioned all the hugging in this one, and Diesel has a Stallone-like ability to be stoic and inarticulate but suddenly burst with emotion. And of course Dom is all about calling people his family, telling them he loves them, making everyone sit at the table together, etc. And admitting to a former enemy that he respects them.

    People laugh about the on-the-nose mentions of family but yes, I’m a sucker for stories about people not related by blood who become family, especially combined with these themes of redemption and forgiveness. They may have blown it with the Shaw/Han storyline, but the first one was about a cop seeing good in a bunch of thieves so much so that he gives up being a cop to become their friend. By part 4 he’s busting Dom out of prison. In 3, Sean is a fuckup whose mom gives up on him and dumps him off with his dad in Tokyo and he makes so much lemonade out of those lemons that he becomes the king of the drifting circuit. Gisele, Hobbs, and the Shaw brothers started out as antagonists or working for the bad guys and ended up allies or family members. I love that shit.

    And for me the fact that these exaggerated emotional themes are holding together a world that was pretty absurd from the beginning and has gotten increasingly ridiculous across 20 years only makes them more powerful. Sort of like how the lack of reality in John Woo shootouts heightens rather than undercuts the potency of his themes. Basically it’s opera but with people flying off of things and landing on cars.

    That was my attempt, who’s next?

  50. Okay, that was really helpful in directly answering the mail in terms of an emotional core, which is really something I need. Redemption and vulnerability and the idea of a family as not strictly blood or strictly business. That resonates quite a bit. And Fred’s broader poin about something that is going for earnest awesomeness in a kind of childlike way also captures something.

    Thank you for the cogent, heartfelt, and good faith responses. I had thought about asking this question yesterday night but worried that maybe it was just trolling or would come across as such, but then today that question remained, and I still really wanted to understand the subtext and reservoir of connection and goodwill that informs this new film and what it’s being held up against — like, what are your desires and expectations coming into it, and not just how it is failing to deliver on some things, but how it is that the previous ones did deliver those things, and what are said things. This helps.

    It seems to me that maybe you have to watch parts 1-3 to fully appreciate part 4 and beyond, but then Majestyk is saying that those are kind of a slog, so, I’m just wondering if it’s too late to change the essence of a fan on this one.

  51. Franchise Fred

    July 2nd, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    Skani, I wouldn’t say you HAVE to watch 1-3. Plenty of folks joined at 5 and love it just fine. But 1-3 worked for me at the time and have only improved in retrospect. The first race and final heist in 1 still hold up. So I don’t know what the right way in is but 6-7 have the best set pieces outside of the opening of 4 so maybe for pure spectacle start there?

  52. A friend of mine has been rewatching them and the thing that seemed to surprise him most was how much he loved 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS now. I think it largely came down to missing Paul Walker and appreciating that that’s the one where he’s completely the focus. He texted me to ask if it was “a thing” to watch it later in the order as a Brian & Roman prequel.

  53. Okay, I knew the Paul Walker element was big, obviously. It seemed like there was this unexpected big renaissance / resurrection of the franchise with Part 4 (as Fred or someone mentioned earlier above) that elevated it to cultural juggernaut status, and then the emotions around Paul Walker’s death (and it’s circumstances, ghoulish or not) and his brothers finishing his work … all of that happening in the context of this saga about family, it seemed kind of like emotional gamma radiation or something. It turbocharged the bond and emotional investment in a pretty singular fashion. For a franchise that was already at this crazy peak, or so it seemed at the time.

    Okay, well, I need to ponder what I’m up for or where to start here, but I feel like I have a much better handle on it now. Thanks again.

  54. Don’t listen to these maniacs. I’m in it solely for the ridiculous action and got Helsinki Syndromed into giving a shit about these boneheads. I don’t even like cars or men or family for that matter. I don’t even know what I’m doing here. But I know it’s too late to go back.

  55. That was glib but not inaccurate. I got into this franchise for the spectacle (which is why the first three never did anything for me—they were all posturing, no carnage) and somehow got sucked into the melodrama. Which is weird, because there’s literally nothing this series represents that means anything to me personally. I don’t give a shit about cars. They are merely a means of conveyance and one is as good as any other. I’ve never had strong friendships like the ones depicted in the films. Most friendships can’t survive a move to another state, let alone betrayal, danger, being on the run all over the world, death. I have no idea what any of these people are talking about when they make their big speeches about family. That is just not my experience with my fellow humans. I don’t even like traveling so the globetrotting aspect doesn’t do much for me either. None of this stuff should appeal to me. But starting with FAST FIVE, the action became so operatic that I got tricked into feeling that way about the characters and emotions too. Through the gateway drug of humongous car crashes, I have been seduced by the dunderheaded sincerity of a worldview I in no way relate to. But don’t get it twisted: the action remains the draw. If F9 is the caliber of action we can expect from here on out, we’re gonna have a problem real soon. When the action is wack, the spell starts to be broken and I start question WHY I care about these one-dimensional characters. There’s no good reason for that so it behooves the gang to step up their action game on FAST10 YOUR SEAT BELTS.

  56. Oh, and I agree with sparker: Cena’s the worst villain this series has ever had, and I barely remember a couple of them. Just an absolute nothing of a character and a performance. He makes Braga look like Immortan Joe.

  57. Like, I am I remembering this right, that he didn’t even get to fight Dom before his reverse heel turn? How do you introduce two huge muscleheads who have lifelong bad blood and then they never even trade any blows? Who the fuck wrote this shit?

  58. I think they fight during the rooftop/grappling sequence, after Dom bodyslams him through a window.

  59. “I *think* the hero and the villain may briefly fight in one part.”—the entire problem with this movie right there

  60. To be fair, I loved 2 Fast before Paul died too. I just think it’s so much fun. Paul and Tyrese are like “We’re in a blockbuster!” And just act like they don’t give a fuck. Just goofing the whole way through.

    If it took Paul’s death to put a spotlight on his solo entry, so be it. Watching it after 5 may work, just like 6 -> 3 -> 7 makes the best trilogy.

    2 delivers on the action too.

  61. MM, I appreciate your insights and, of course, your bracing candor, whichi is never in short supply. I kind of wonder if that wasn’t an angle, too. This is kind of an arousal-attribution trap (classic social psych), where they get your adrenaline spiking off the charts then Trojan horse in all this stuff about family and emotions, then Paul Walker goes and gets himself killed, and now you are really hopelessly in love with these guys.

    What you say about the appeal of the family and persistence of relationships also speaks to me and connects to what Vern is saying about how he’s a sucker for that stuff. Like John Cougar-Mellencamp Levenson-Gould, I grew up in a small town, very rural and blue collar (and, yes, totes white), the one thing you experience is a sense of location and the idea that your identity and community are bound together and are linked to literal geography. And things are, in fact, so small and local that even neighboring town kids seem like stranger foreigners — the neighboring town and rival football team might as well have been the Sunnis to our Shiites. That geographically rooted tribalism is surprisingly comforting and powerful, because you know who you are, and like CHEERS, everybody knows your name.

    Now, I don’t have to enumerate all of the usual -isms and -obias and such wiggling around the fucked up underbelly of that, but what I can tell you is that when I moved to the city 25 years ago, I embarked on an extended period of transitory serial relationships that no one bothers to maintain very well in the face of a job change or move (even a move across town). I do have some persistent friendships, but also a lot of “remember when we used to get togethere with”s. And although it sounds like some of you all have done better than me in this department, I think this is to some extent the trade-off (Goodhart’s idea of “somewheres” vs. “anywheres”). You take a sense of actual rootedness and personhood/identity and belonging that is bound to a people and location, and you trade them for a set of abstract value commitments and pseudo-identities that are like so many stickers affixed to your bumper or laptop. You are now a citizen of the world, but it is a lonely world of living in front of the internet and tv and caring too much about work or career or bills.

    And then a $100M carefully curated corporate product like this dangles the illusion of family and community, and you can’t help but be a sucker for that shit, I mean I’m only human, you guys.

  62. Missed opportunity to have Cena be responsible personally for Nobody’s death, since that would give him at least some heel heat before he inevitably turns back to the Light Side. I wonder if that was the case initially, then they took it out in reshoots because it was too mean.

    I don’t want to be overly harsh on anything that gets Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, and the lovely Ms. Nathalie Emmanuel (whose truck driving is the MVP here) paid, but this is the first time a Fast movie just felt too long, like there was too much talking and not enough action. They needed to either cut some of the chit-chat or add some more street races.

    And the whole thing where Roman thinks he’s immortal–you can smell the new guy sitting down at the typewriter and going “ayuck, I’m gonna throw in some jokes about how crazy and over-the-top this movie is.” No! No! The Fast And The Furious does not need to be self-aware! Stop it!!!

  63. Yeah, Kaplan. It’s really cringey. I try to remind myself it’s only a few minutes out of a 153 minute movie. But I had the same reaction. Too much backstory talk, too little action. This for a movie where they race through a minefield, flip a tractor trailer and go to space.

  64. I enjoyed this more than the last one and the spinoff. They dialed it back to the point some of it reminded me of FAST FIVE. Man Lucas Black aged like shit but this movie had so many unintentional laughs I couldn’t help but have a blast with it. Great way to get back to cinemas for me. The perpetual zip lining of John Cena especially had me in stitches. How he just stopped and you think he reached his destination but nope he’s just firing another mile of Zipline. I expected him to end up in Scotland or some shit.

    Dom has excellent breath control. Maybe he’s an Aquaman. I mean it must’ve been like 20 min in movie time considering how many flashbacks and epiphanies he had. The Tyrese moment of reflection was definitely on the nose. I was legit waiting for them to be like “maybe we’re characters in a movie”. I’m bothered by how much of a buffoon they make him just to prop up Ludacris. Like hello in their introductory movie one of these guys was just there to tell start your engines. Now he’s outclassing the co-hero of that joint like nothing? poor Tyrese. Felt so bad when he just wanted to eat cereal and Ludacris just turns on the magnet to get some chuckles from Game of Thrones girl at his expense. Just mean.

    I want to see a movie of just Helen Miren taking in all these Dominican girls and trying to make em posh. Next spin off idea right there. John Cena was ok between this and THE MARINE I do think if he polishes himself enough he could be better than The Rock who truthfully is no great shakes outside of this series and the Jumanjis. We’ll see how he does in NOT SUICIDE SQUAD. Overall I can’t really be mad at this one. It had DAYS OF THUNDERs own Michael Rookery setup as a potential Alfred for son of race car driver John Cena in a future joint. That was enough for me. I think it’s one of the better ones tbh despite the blue balls it leaves you with with that abrupt ending. Here’s hoping we get all the CGI Paul Walker we can swallow with the next 2.

  65. If you guys would like to have any faith in this franchise’s future, do yourself a favor and don’t listen to Justin Lin’s commentary track for this one. Good god. The man is clearly a very talented director, particularly in terms of getting the most out of his physical effects and stunt crews, but Christ almighty is he not a writer. If he’s allowed to control the scripts going forward, we’re gonna get a lot more flashbacks and reveals that nobody asked for. He apparently hopes future installments have more room to explore the “Nordic jaw” line from this one. That’s where his head is at. I think of this shit as busywork. The kind of shit actors and D&D players think of to get themselves in character. NOT the kind of shit anybody who knows how to tell a story would consider putting in the middle of an action movie.

    I’m not saying Lin needs to go. He’s part of the family. But please, o great immortal god of fast cars and those who jump off of them, please please please do not let him near anymore scripts unless Chris Morgan is there with a cattle prod when he decides what the audience of a movie about vehicles that crash into other vehicles and explode wants to see is more fucking backstory that stops the momentum dead in its tracks.

    I also got the sense that they’re probably gearing up for a TV show of some kind so if one of you could show me a kindness and murder me in my sleep before that happens, I’d really appreciate it.

  66. I don’t have anything to add after catching it on TV today (Sorry, theatres, but the shorter streaming and pay TV windows are actually pretty cool for me.), except that they really missed out on staging an action scene in and around Cologne.

    Nothing against Edingburgh, which in the end looks definitely more scenic than Cologne, but I’m sure everybody who is more into cars than me is waiting for a chase over a German Autobahn and I would’ve loved to see how they would manage to incorporate the Domplatte (the place in front of the cathedral) into the fun. I think it’s a bit difficult to get on it with a car, but once you are there, there are many spots where you could stage a cool car jump. MAybe even onto the train tracks of the central station!

    Also it wasn’t really clear how far away from Cologne they really were, but I’m sure it’s not allowed to start jets that close to a city. We had a whole thing about low flying aircrafts back in the 80s, so I don’t know where the jet came from that the Tokyo Drifters were trying to race, but I’m sure it’s not a real thing.

  67. I know. It’s a bummer. I don’t see how you bring in someone new to do the finale without it feeling wrong. And how does this happen a week into filming? Also I’m worried they’ll get desperate, hire a white guy and break their streak.

  68. I’m perfectly OK with Lin leaving since Fast 9 was so punishingly bad I couldn’t even muster the strength to say anything about it here. Plus hot take – I only wholeheartedly like ONE of his Fast movies (Fast Five). I think Fast 7 is far and away the best one, so would totally welcome James Wan’s return to the series if that’s a possibility.

  69. My wild guess about the “why” is that there were script changes that retconned his retcons from the last movies and actually made the characters make sense again.

    But enough of the cynical bullshit, I vote for James Wan too, although I can imagine him staying away after his last entry already had a troubled production. Granted, “one of your main actors died” is worse and more complicated than “We need a last minute replacement for the director’s chair” though.

  70. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s any chance for Wan. He has said in the past that he will never do another one because of how traumatic the experience was, and isn’t he filming AQUAMAN 2? Or did they already do that?

    I also don’t think Vin can take over, because I’m assuming the producer’s guild rules that prevented Gibson from taking over on PAYBACK apply here.

  71. I like the franchise, and I like those Justin Lin movies (from DRIFT to 7 the series was generally on a roll), but I think at this point you can get anyone to direct and it’s still gonna be, for better or for worse, another Fast and Furious movie.

  72. Industry Speak = Creative Differences

    Fast-Speak = Not on same page as Overlord Diesel

  73. Like neal said, I’d be a lot more upset about this if F9 hadn’t been such dogshit. His heart clearly wasn’t in it anymore. It’s sad, but I think this miraculous, never-should-have-existed-in-the-first-place franchise has probably overstayed its welcome. Despite all of its success, it has burned off nearly all of its goodwill through ego and bloat. Victory has defeated it.

  74. “His heart clearly wasn’t in it anymore”

    Which officially makes F9 the KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL of the franchise, although I’d re-watch the latter another dozen times before giving the former another minute of my time

  75. Also, while I was Team Diesel in the Vin/Rock feud because I’m gonna side with the kinda douchey guy who makes good movies over the kinda douchey guy who doesn’t, I think at this point it’s probably safe to say that Vin has become impossible to work with. I have a feeling he’s in for a “Sly in the early 2000s” type humbling any second now.

  76. I don’t think Lin’s heart wasn’t in it, but instead his heart was TOO MUCH in it. His direction and hand for coming up with cool vehicular action scene was still as good as ever, but storywise it seemed like he violently wanted to reclaim the series and make a statement about how little of a shit he gave about the last two movies and sadly, it wasn’t necessary at all and the movie suffered from it.

  77. So…yeah. Louis Leterrier. He is…competent.

  78. The first two TRANSPORTER movies and UNLEASHED are modern action classics, and the NOW YOU SEE ME movies, probably the closest thing in his resume to the FAST series, were a lot of fun. I guess the guy’s a jobber and not the most exciting, probably a safe choice when you’re in a pinch, but on the whole a respectable pick.

  79. Yeah. Competent.

    I don’t think he ever made anything that I actually hated (although I also didn’t love any of his stuff), he definitely knows how to do action (even THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY, which was a gross out comedy first, had some cool action beats) and I guess as far as journeyman directors go, who are willing and able to jump in the last minute on the director’s chair of a tentpole movie, they could’ve chosen a much worse one, but I don’t think anybody here was really excited when they announced him.

  80. I don’t think he’s gonna do a worse job then THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS. At the end of F9 it seemed to me like their were going to bury the Shaw family and push Han and his new protege. I wonder if that’s still the plan.

  81. I see Leterrier also directed the first three episodes of LUPIN, so he can handle a heist/caper type story well enough too.

  82. On one hand I don’t think anyone’s too excited about Letterier, but on the other, I’ll say with confidence I enjoyed Transporter 1, Unleashed, and Clash of the Titans more than any of the Fast movies besides 5 and 7. And I’ll take forgettable fluff like Now You See Me over the unwatchable bloat of F9 any day.

    Plus I would argue the eye-rolling car bomb/crane gag in Transporter 2 set the template for most of the stunts in these latter Fast movies, i.e. it makes zero sense and is like something a child banging toys together would come up with. I remember specifically walking out of Transporter 2 arguing with my buds on whether that moment was tongue-in-cheek awesome or just plain stupid. So yeah, he’ll fit right in.

  83. Since it sounds like his job is mostly being in charge of actors, maybe having a Frenchman directing them will add something new and weird. I don’t know. But it’s a shame to see the miraculous journey of this series end with a salvage operation. (Not to mention breaking the streak of people of color directing eight of them in a row.)

  84. Let’s face it” Letterier’s biggest challenge will be to keep a Diesel-powered ego in check.

    Behind Justin Lin’s ‘Fast 10’ Breaking Point

    A Saturday to remember: It started as a talk about notes with franchise star and fellow producer Vin Diesel, escalated into a "major disagreement," and ended with a slammed door: "Justin finally had enough and said, 'This movie is not worth my mental health.'"

  85. Since we’re on Letterrier, anyone seen his latest which is a French Buddy Cop Actioner on Netflix called THE TAKEDOWN?

  86. Didn’t know that existed, but apparently it’s also the sequel to a movie from 10 years ago that I have never seen.

  87. I saw THE TAKEDOWN and had fun with it. Omar Sy has charisma in spades.

  88. Okaaaaay……so initial thoughts on FAST X..

    I suppose I shouldn’t have caught the late night screening after a pulverizing 10 hours at the office, so a case can be made that maybe it isn’t the movie that’s looking tired but my own addled brains.

    But the script which carries a strong whiff of Deja Vu throughout IS showing signs of having gone back to the well once too often.

    Dom & Co are wanted fugitives…AGAIN. The Toretto residence is fucked up…AGAIN and now rivals the Murtaugh home as DOMICILE MOST SUBJECTED TO VIOLENT ATTACKS. The Baddie is the Blood Relative of a Previous Baddie…AGAIN.

    I actually found myself nodding off in places, which is saying something for a movie that’s paced like a rocket with hardly any down time between the action. And speaking of the action…sure you get served all the regulars off the FAST menu i.e over blown, over the top set pieces designed to flip logic, gravity and physics the bird. But even here,
    it’s missing the truly batshit creativity of those in FASTs 5-8.

    The problem is , these FAST movies work best when The Toretto Crew…sorry…FAMILY are together planning the most outrageous shit this side of a cartoon. FAST X goes the INFINITY WAR route in having to deal with it’s now gargantuan cast by splitting them up and sending them on side quests, while introducing new characters like Captain Marvel and Jack Reacher Ver 2.0 who end up being wasted. The highlight is Momoa, providing the sole spark of freshness with an outrageously campy yet menacing performance.

    It’s probably an unfair take on an installment that’s the 1st of a 2 parter (or is it now 3?) so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed they can wrap all this up with an ENDGAME-level high.

    But..yeah, I probably need to re-watch this with a fresher pair of eyes so I reserve the right to revise all of the above :-)

  89. What is it about a cliffhanger that I hear? Fuck that. Not gonna watch it in theatres, I guess. I warned you before that in around 15 years you will have to buy two tickets for every blockbuster movie if you wanna know how it ends and I’m warning you again!

  90. Alas…yes. FAST X ends on a cliffhanger, making it the INFINITY WAR or the KILL BILL VOL 1, or the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST of the franchise. Except, if Diesel’s comments are anything to go by, they may stretch this out to 2 more installments (!).

    Just out of curiosity CJ, you going to be applying the same embargo on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 7: DEAD RECKONING PART 1, this July?

  91. Yup, absolutely. Gotta give them credit for actually advertising that the new M:I is only a half movie, but I’m not gonna reward their cashgrab approach.

  92. It’s a good ending in an ongoing serial kind of way. It’s not like HUNGER GAMES part 2 (before they even started splitting them) where I was 100% into it until it hit the credits right when I thought the big finale was starting. No, it’s a FAST movie, so you’ve already had 5 or 6 set pieces bigger than the entirety of that movie and it’s a good place to put a pin in it. But since that’s a different approach from the previous 9 movies I was glad to be mentally prepared for it.

  93. I don’t know. The reveal of the cliffhanger ending pissed me off so badly, I’ve been a grumpy ass bitch about it all day. These things just become WAY too common. When MATRIX and POTC did that, it was like “Hell yeah, we not just get one, but two sequels in a row!” The splitting of KILL BILL could at least be seen as some kind of compromise between an artistic vision and studio demands. When HARRY POTTER and HUNGER GAMES did it, it was already an obvious cashgrab, but at least it seemed like studios lost interest in that for a while because of the negative reception. I guess INFINITY WAR/ENDGAME made too much money though.

    Something probably died inside of me after ALITA ended with her just randomly pointing at the villain and the marketing of DUNE didn’t tell anybody that they would never be able to see how the whole thing ends if it would bomb or underperform.

    Not to mention that this was the day when Disney suddenly announced they would remove a whole bunch of even brand new stuff from D+ for cost cutting reasons and it’s unclear if now THE PRINCESS or the WILLOW show will become lost media or they might return in one form or another. So all of a sudden my fear of greedy corporations trying to maximize their profits by normalizing half movies, became way too real.

  94. Franchise Fred

    May 19th, 2023 at 2:17 pm

    Maybe I’ve just softened since Matrix Reloaded (or Back to the Future II for that matter) but the Fast X cliffhanger felt in line with the movie and the series to me. Like Vern’s movie serial allusion, setting up a blatant cliffhanger > just ending because they’ve gotta stop somewhere.

    Perhaps John Wick also got me in the mood. Not that Fast X is anywhere near a John Wick movie but the Wick endings did a good job striking the balance of satisfying the current movie while hyping up the next one.

  95. I mean, this is part ten. The tenth one. For people who have been watching 22 years worth of movies. Is there some world where a significant number of people were going to watch FAST X but not FAST XI but then they felt like they had no choice because the business with Dante was unresolved? No, of course not. It’s not a cash grab, it’s Vin Diesel being a weirdo, and Vin Diesel being a weirdo is the reason why I love Vin Diesel.

  96. Agree with about 50% of what u said Vern.

    Absolutely, NO ONE trooping in to see FAST X belong to the category of folks who’ve never seen a single previous installment. It’s the latest Mass in the Church of the Fully Converted.

    But as for the decision of splitting a 10th installment into 2, and now possibly 3 parts not being a cash grab? Hmmm…I don’t think so. This is on par with splitting the last HARRY PORTER, HUNGER GAMES into 2 parts each. (You could argue of some merit to having 2 parts to DEATHLY HALLOWS, but MOCKINGJAY????? The 1st part of that was the single most bum-numbing instance of tedium I had to endure in theatres).

    This is about milking a cash cow until only hot air’s coming off it’s udders.

    Vin Diesel isn’t a weirdo, merely an ego maniac well aware of the value of the sole franchise keeping his career alive (now that GoTG 3 has wrapped up and along with it, the easiest paycheck in film history).

  97. Okay, it’s true that part 10 of one of the biggest money making machines of our time might be the best part to start cliffhangering, but I still think there is a certain nasty taste that they dare to finish a MOVIE with “Tune in next time to see how it ends!”

    Not to mention that considering that there is no way in hell that FAST X won’t be a smash hit (Same with the next M:I), it really sets a dangerous precedent IMO. Not just the double ticket buy (When will season passes for certain franchises be introduced?), but it might also lead to more half-assed movies. Because why bother with a decent script if you don’t have to worry about coming up with an ending until a few years later, right? (Fast XI hasn’t started shooting yet, right?) And I also fear that we not just get the guaranteed-sequel movies split up in the middle, but a wave of ALITAs and DUNEs, that don’t have an ending although it’s not even clear if they will ever make a sequel, might become the new normal for a while. The cliffhanger movie might be this or the next decade’s 3D!

    Also say what you want about Diesel as Groot, but I can imagine having to deliver the same three words in a way that they always have a different meaning and do so in a dozen different languages is not exactly “the easiest paycheck in film history”. Knowing how much care James Gunn puts into these, I can imagine he had to work pretty hard.

  98. CJ, It’s still 3.FREAKING.WORDS

    Delivered over and over again. Yes with different levels of pitch and enunciation to convey a mood. And yes, just like acting, voice over artists need to do multiple line readings, But I’m not ready to put this at the same level of Will Arnett needing to convey arrogance, douchebaggery, regret, longing and deep depression as an anthropomorphic stallion across 6 seasons of BOJACK HORSEMAN. Hell, Bradley Cooper gets more respect from me as Rocket Raccoon because had he opted to go uncredited, nobody would have figured it was him!

    I maintain, Diesel as Groot is Stunt Casting.

  99. This argument is ridiculous. Like there was no way they were gonna get to make an 11th version of one of the most successful franchises of all time unless they split the “story” into two parts. They could have easily just done two more self-contained adventures set in different locales the way they’ve done nine times before for more than 20 years. This cliffhanger stuff isn’t any more of a cash grab than any other installment in any other unkillable franchise. It’s just Vin being a huge nerd and being way too excited about his sprawling, nonsensical mythology to pare it down enough to fit into one movie. And that’s great. The Rock listens to the focus groups. He does what’s required and no extra. Vin listens to his heart and throws it all on the screen.

    I thought the cliffhanger was great. I’ve seen these movies end with a barbecue and a greatest hits montage at least five times now. I’m glad they did something different. This installment was way more fun than F9, and leaning into the overstuffed narrative is a big part of that. I’m actually excited about this dumb series again.

  100. CJ, I want to be clear that it’s fine if you just don’t like cliffhangers. But that’s your hang-up. It’s not the movie’s problem. There are good cliffhangers and bad cliffhangers, like any other storytelling technique, and this is one of the good ones. It leaves you on a high and gives this particular villain a grandeur that he wouldn’t have if he were another one-and-done threat a sequel and a half away from getting invited to the cookout. I am very much looking forward to learning how they got out of the cockadoodie car.

  101. Franchise Fred

    May 20th, 2023 at 8:39 am

    CJ, they’re trying to use AI to make movies and tv shows now. I’ll take human made cliffhangers over that. Granted, we should have the option of highest quality movies but that ship sailed when corporations bought studios.

    My point is that the precedent is far worse than you imagine. It was set when people came back for Potter and Hunger Games (but not Divergent though haha). I don’t really begrudge Fast for playing in that sandbox and I think they did it in a fun way.

    Now can the entertainment industry be saved? I’m preparing for a long, metaphorically bloody fight but I’m following the strike very closely and I bet actors and directors will join.

  102. I’m currently not scared of AI. Until they will be able to write or create anything that goes beyond “meme video that is funny because it’s so bizarre”, some time will pass. (Well, I guess Adult Swim writers and directors should be a little scared.) And until then we most likely already had the next “Biz Markie V Gilbert O’Sullivan”, that will put a strict regulation on how you are allowed to use these things.

    But I think when they start to split simple action movies, like FAST X or M:I, shit is really broken. Back in the days they at least tried to justify it with “Well, the Wachowskis had such a creative vision, it’s simply cheaper to shoot two sequels back to back” or “Tarantino refused to cut most stuff from his movie to give it a more pleasant length, but we reached an agreement” or “”Well, the book that we are adapting is so long and we wanna do it justice”. All of those were more or less marketing bullshit (You removed so much shit from every previous POTTER book but now want the heroes to spend 2/3 of the movie moping in the woods because you care about the source material? Fuck off!), but at least plausible marketing bullshit. What’s the matter now? You couldn’t fit all explosions into 2 1/2 hours?

    Between TV shows giving us only less than 9 episodes every 2 or 3 years and more and more movies blueballing me by rolling the credits without a conclusion after two hours of buildup, that kind of entertainment just isn’t entertaining anymore. I’m happy for you that you are still able to enjoy it without feeling insulted, but to me, that shit is just getting really tiresome and cynical.

  103. Franchise Fred

    May 20th, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    Oh there’s lots of tiresome insulting shit in the industry that’s burning me out so I guess cliffhangers are relatively slight by comparison. I also think you’re right that we went from “we ran out of books so we need to split the last one in half” to generating original entries designed to be half.

    I think AI will become a problem sooner than later if the industry is already willing to bet the farm that they can do it without writers or maybe even actors. Hopefully AI will be declared public domain and thus moot for Hollywood, but admittedly the purging of shows and movies (including those not even released) is more immediately concerning.

  104. KayKay – But… the reason to criticize turning one book into two movies is if you think it would work better as one movie but they just wanted to sell you two tickets so they made an inferior adaptation. FAST is not, sadly, a book, so they will make however many movies they make and people who see FAST movies will see each of them and people who don’t see FAST movies will see none of them. Whether the bad guy is still up to something or not at the end does not affect this. It’s just a (slightly) different story format than the other ones.

  105. I’m theoretically against movies ending on cliffhangers in order to try to sell tickets for the next one, but in most all the cases of it actually happening I think it’s excusable. I usually think it’s fine for movies that film back-to-back and the next one is coming out the next very next year, like Matrix 2 and 3, Pirates 2 and 3, and Infinity War and Endgame. And I can’t see a reason to get upset about in cases like F10 and MI:7, because like others have said, they are the 10th and 7th entries of a film series, they are going to make another one no matter what, and if you’re going to see entry 10 and 7 you were almost certainly going to see 11 and 8 regardless of the endings, cliffhanger or not, so there’s no injured party here. The Harry Potter and Hunger Games instances are the only egregious ones, to me, because that is clearly just taking one movie and splitting it into two for cash-grab purposes. Don’t think that applies to any of the other examples.

    On the topic of F&F, though, I’m probably not going to see 10 for a while. I thought 8 was disappointing and 9 was *really* disappointing and I no longer feel the need to see these in theatres.

  106. I don’t have anything, like, theologically against cliffhangers, but I’d like it a lot better here if F To The Tenth Power didn’t feel like the midsection of a streaming show. Just 2+ hours of the characters running around completing sidequests before they go to the final boss. Did we need to see Team Roman buying guns from Celebrity Cameo Zeta? Or Dom’s brother and son on the world’s longest roadtrip? It feels like the plot is (sorry for the pun) spinning its wheels after Rome with no real advancement. I know, I know, who cares about the story? But I feel like if they really tried, they could’ve pared everything here down to the first act of a real movie.

    Also, I know Fast Five did kinda the same thing with every cop in Brazil being corrupt and deserving of vault-murder, but anyone else find it weird that “the Agency” went from complete good guys to Gestapo thugs that the heroes happily ventilate by the dozen? Is Lil Nobody gonna wake up at the hospital and have to be told that all his friends are dead? (“That’s what you get for trying to enforce the law! Don’t ever let me catch you fighting terrorism again!”)

  107. Also, how can *this series* set a whole car chase in Rome and not bring the Popemobile into things? Justin Lin would’ve done it…

  108. Kaplan, pretty much agree with you.

    X’s rocket like pacing, sledgehammering you with one action set piece after another does a good job of camouflaging it’s flaws which include some pretty lazy re-treading of plot points off of previous installments ( and it doesn’t help the movie relentlessly references what I consider to be a high watermark of the franchise, FAT FIVE) and a cast of regulars who all, dare I say it, seem tired. Diesel’s lost his swagger, Tyrese seems exhausted playing the Class Clown for so long, Ludacris seems checked out and even Nathalie Emmanuel’s Super Hacker has lost much of her spunk and by now Michelle Rodriguez’s sole reason for being in these movies is to provide the mandatory beatdown with another Alpha Female. That leaves a scenery chewing Momoa, an icy Theron (nice of the film-makers to wake up to the fact they have a Bona Fide Kick Ass Female Action Lead in their cast and give her some cool fight scenes) and a still glowering, menacing Statham to pick up the slack.

    And lastly…..





    I realize 10 movies in that no one ever fucking dies in this universe, but the end reveal has a real “Are you shitting me? ” vibe about it, especially after Han’s resurrection.

    I can see my current mild amusement quickly changing to irritation if Elena and Vince show up for the beer and barbecue 2 movies down the road.

    And…can we agree after the mid-credits reveal that the infamous DIESEL-ROCK fight has all the authenticity of one of those Vince McMahon written WWE locker room feuds? Well done guys, you sure fooled me.

  109. I prefer to think of that final reveal as evidence of what we have always suspected: that Mr. The Rock Johnson has all the integrity of a junkie in need of a fix. He tried to throw his weight around in yet another franchise and got shown the door when, once again, he talked a big game but didn’t produce, so he immediately came crawling back to the series that put him back on top the last time his career was on the downswing. He can spin it however he wants (and he will) but we all know what it really means: This big dog is finally accepting his second banana status. It’s either that or THE TOOTH FAIRY 2, which is what he was looking at the last time Vin saved his ungrateful ass.

    I do love to see a big man grovel.

    I do love to see a man-mountain grovel.

  110. (Disregard last line. The “big dog” variant was the final edit.)

  111. Ugh. The “big man” variant. Fuck it. I haven’t had coffee yet. Forget I said anything.

  112. SPOILER. I like that he was gone for the same amount of time Dom was gone at the beginning of the series (1.99 installments).

  113. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have him back. My beef with The Rock is that I WANT to like him but his body of work just doesn’t merit it. Other than the JUMANJIs, the F&Fs (not counting his spin-off, which remains the low point of the franchise) are the only movies that make him work for a living. They play to his strengths but don’t coast on them. He has to earn his place in the ensemble by legit being awesome instead of just taking his awesomeness for granted. And now that his spirit has been broken and he knows who the boss is, maybe we’ll get to see more of the hardass early Hobbs and less of the walking TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON skit that he has become. Fingers crossed. I’ve given up on the idea that he’ll ever make an actual honest-to-god good movie so simply not fucking up Hobbs anymore is about the best I can hope for from this guy.

  114. “Mr. The Rock Johnson has all the integrity of a junkie in need of a fix. ”

    Or..a real savvy businessman who took a look at his career (a DC takeover mercilessly Gunn-ed down, not enough genuine charm for suave, debonair romantic leads like JUNGLE CRUISE & RED NOTICE, too built to project the vulnerability demanded by roles in DIE HARD-influenced actioners like SKYSCRAPER, a lifetime of type casting in kiddie flicks or buddy comedies with Kevin Hart looming) and decided working with “Candy Asses” ain’t so bad after all:-)

  115. “maybe we’ll get to see more of the hardass early Hobbs”

    Anyone remember FASTER? That was the most grim and Hard Ass I’d ever seen Mr. Johnson. Pity he didn’t go down that route, but I suppose PG-13, kid friendly movies offered the widest exposure.

  116. It might have helped if that movie didn’t suck. But he learned the wrong lesson from its failure. What he should have learned was “Work with better directors to make better movies” but his takeaway was “Only make PG-13 four-quadrant pablum.”

  117. Say what you want about early acting Dwayne Johnson, but he was quite willing to experiment to a degree. The results weren’t all good, but at least he didn’t seem to see himself as a brand yet and tried different things out. His acting debut was playing his father in an episode of THAT 70s SHOW. He followed up the more obvious action vehicles THE RUNDOWN and WALKING TALL with BE COOL, where he played a gay man whose homosexuality wasn’t the punchline. Then he appeared in SOUTHLAND TALES and I can imagine he knew that it wouldn’t be the box office smash hit of the year. GRIDIRON GANG was a good overlap between a tough guy role and something that required him to act some more. Then came his kids movie phase. All that, while the world still expected him to be this generation’s Arnie.

    He obviously always had one eye on the box office (Even SOUTHLAND TALES could’ve been picked with “This is gonna be a modern cult classic” in his head), but it seems like he only became really lazy around 10 years ago. Since then his biggest creative risk was pretty much doing a voice acting role with some singing in a Disney movie. (Which admittedly he was really good in.)

  118. I vote kayfabe.

  119. If the feud was staged, they’d have done a better job of selling it. It wouldn’t have been one guy talking shit and the other guy ignoring him for like seven years.

  120. Hopefully Justin Lin is kayfabe too then.

  121. Great, now I can’t get the image of Justin Lin sneaking up behind Louis Leterrier and hitting him with a director’s chair out of my head. (Note: I don’t know what they look like, so they wear Luchador masks.)

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