Review: “F9: The Fast Saga” takes Fast and Furious to new heights

Screenshot+from+Ludacris%27s+Instagram+commemorating+the+release+of+%22F9%3A+The+Fast+Saga%22+and+honoring+Paul+Walker%27s+memory.+

Screenshot from Ludacris’s Instagram commemorating the release of “F9: The Fast Saga” and honoring Paul Walker’s memory.

by Ryan Hardison, Arts & Culture Editor

If there was ever a movie to watch on an enormous movie screen, it’s “F9: The Fast Saga,” the latest, most over-the-top adventure yet for Dominic Toretto and crew. 

With each new entry in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, the bar for utter ridiculousness is raised through the roof and shot into the sky. They’ve done almost everything with cars, without any consideration for the laws of physics. These stunts include jumping from building to building, parachuting out of a jet, racing against a nuclear submarine, and let’s not forget when they dragged a bank vault with $100 million through the streets of Rio De Janeiro. This time around, their ambitions left the planet. 

SPOILER WARNING: 

The basic skeleton of the “F9” plot plays out like a short story written by an imaginative fifth grader. This time around, Toretto’s never-before-mentioned brother Jakob shows up as a spy who’s pursuing Ares, a high-grade weapon-control device, for a scheming antagonist. Jakob’s employer is a wealthy and powerful man with daddy issues who wants control of the world’s weapons so he can become … even more wealthy and powerful. Classic rich guy stuff. 

To foil his plan, Dom’s team must send people to space to destroy a satellite that’s connected to Ares. This is where Dom’s goofy and fearless sidekicks’ Roman and Tej come in. They shoot off into space using a rocket engine strapped onto an old Pontiac Fiero, and yes, it is just as glorious as it sounds. Never doubt the power of American muscle. 

At this point, it is in no way surprising that F&F would pull off something like this. In a short time frame, Toretto and his crew have gone from LA street racers stealing DVD players (that’s how you know these movies have been going on for a while) to … what are they even now? Criminal masterminds turned government mercenaries? Secret agents? Superheroes? I guess that classification is for the audience to decide. 

The main characters seem untouchable and even when some of them die on screen, they later reappear good as new. This is why I subscribe to the theory that nobody actually dies in the Fast and Furious universe. The series already pulled this maneuver with Letty three movies ago and “F9” brought back Sung Kang as Han Lue, an indispensable character who’s always snacking on chips or doing something effortlessly cool. Despite seeing Han die in “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift,” it’s revealed he faked his death to protect a girl who is the secret key to obtaining access to Ares. It’s not super convincing, but it works. 

The characters will tell you themselves, repeatedly over and over again, that nothing is more important than family. The power of a loving family is incredible plot armor that can shield you from bullets, bombs, falling cars and literal outer space. There’s even a running gag where the characters question why they never get seriously hurt despite all the danger they face. 

One of the things that come with this plot armor is inconceivable invincibility. There’s a scene where Dominic Toretto single-handedly fights off and kills at least 20 henchmen only using chains and his fists, and then drowns yet survives. That still doesn’t even crack the top five most ridiculous things that happened in this film. At this point, I’m fully convinced that you could throw Toretto against anyone and he’ll come out on top: Superman. Omni-Man. Method Man. He could demolish them all. 

Despite the usual theatrics, there’s an even greater focus on family than ever before. “F9” jumps back and forth between the present and 1989, where the film explores the death of Dom’s father and his non-existent relationship with Jakob. They later reconcile and as expected, Dom stays true to his roots. 

But nothing emphasizes the family focus more than the final scene of the film, where Dom leaves a seat open for Brian O’Connor at his family dinner, and a Blue Nissan Skyliner (O’Connor’s signature car) rolls up in the driveway. As many F&F fans are well aware, Walker’s character is still alive in the franchise although the actor died in real life, so it’s a touching moment showing they still have endless adoration for his legacy.

From a skeptical watcher, it’d be easy to say if you’ve seen one Fast and Furious movie, you’ve seen them all. Fast cars, foreign locations, absurd action sequences. But you’d be forgetting the one crucial element that keeps their engines running and the nitrous tanks filled up family. They never forget their family. So, ignore the impossible psychics, the incoherent title orders that make less than zero sense, and the puzzling storylines and just enjoy the ride. 

7/10

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