“F9,” with all it’s brain-dead joy, might just be the perfect blockbuster to usher movie-goers back to movie going. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen a movie in the theater. “F9” makes me feel like I never left.
Just so no one’s confused — this isn’t a “good” movie in the sense that it’ll make you think about life or drive you to some sort of epiphany. Nah, this is a movie that embraces the insanity that has been building in this franchise for two decades. It exists entirely to be laughed at in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way.
There’s a moment in “F9” where Roman (Tyrese Gibson) is questioning his existential existence, wondering how they could’ve completed so many insane missions without even a scratch. It’s a good question. Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) entire team of street-racers-turned-super-spies are more like superheroes now. During his reality crisis, Roman reminds us that “Fast and Furious” is all one big expensive joke involving lots of mangled cars.
The plot is so insanely convoluted it’s almost impossible to comprehend. They hop from one location in the world to another, faster than James Bond, and most of the time it’s difficult to understand why they’re there. The only real explanation being that these places make for cool looking exotic locales to crash cars in.
The story is a disjointed mess that never flows naturally. Instead it’s dragged along by set piece after set piece as Dom and his crew careen through cities, destroying untold amounts of public property, and putting large numbers of people at risk.
But “F9” is so gleefully stupid, so self-aware of its own insanity that it’s hard not to just sit back and enjoy it.
Dom has morphed into Captain America without the smile. He literally picks guys up and throws them across rooms. He can pull entire ceilings down with just his biceps and a growl. He’s come a long way from being that dude who lives his life a quarter mile at a time. Now he’s living his life as a super spy, traversing the world, finding new cities to wreak havoc in, all for the greater good.
Yes, there’s a weapon that some bad guys are going to get their hands on. There’s always some world-ending issue that pops up that only this team of reckless miscreants can solve. The bad guys are driven by money and power, surprise, surprise. Unfortunately, most of the time Charlize Theron is on screen she’s confined to a literal box. That’s no way to treat the best actor in this film.
“F9” falters when it gets too self-serious for its own good. The constant flashbacks of Dom as a young man helping his father at the racetrack don’t have the emotional punch they wish they possessed, because they’re sandwiched between a bonkers movie where cars jump over huge gorges like giant metal tetherballs.
It’s overlong and doesn’t make a lick of sense, but they also strap rockets to a car and shoot themselves into orbit while cracking jokes. So, you know, it’s still a hilarious time at the movies.