I wonder if the number in the titles of the “Fast & Furious” movies is a scale of how implausible the movie will be. Do the producers think, “Well, it’s the ninth movie so it has to be nine times wilder than the last one.” I mean, why simply have a Pontiac Fiero when you can have a Pontiac Fiero with a rocket engine strapped to the roof?
Trust me, I’m on to something here.
I was not a fan of the first batch of “F&F” films but as they’ve incrementally amped up the action, shifting into a higher gear each and every time, with no regard for sentient storytelling or the laws of gravity, I’ve developed a soft spot for Dom and the Gang.
The movies stopped making sense some time ago. How is it, exactly, that a group of gearheads became a highly trained squad of international warriors, equally at home with ignition coils and international intrigue? These movies redefine the word excessive, and yet the franchise’s commitment to auto anarchy and Vin Diesel’s raspy way with a catchphrase has caught me in its speed trap.
The latest entry, “F9,” now playing in theatres and Drive-Ins, is less a movie and more a spectacle. A loud-and-proud exercise in far-fetchery, cliches and twisted metal, it uses on the usual “F&F” staples —family, friends, fast cars and flashbacks—as a backdrop to the over-the-top action to tell a story of international espionage, an evil mastermind named Cipher (Charlize Theron) and the broken relationship between brothers Dom (Diesel) and Jakob (John Cena).
There’s more, but fans don’t go to these movies for the storytelling. They go because director Justin Lin has eliminated most of the boring bits—i.e. when the characters speak—to distill the movie down to its sweaty essence. When the characters do talk, they don’t converse exactly, they exchange clichés, and when they aren’t speaking in a low rumble, they yell.
The result is a Kabuki car show, the latest entry in a franchise that knows no speed limit.