F9: The Fast Saga

There’s a scene in the show The Office in which the character Kevin Pours a massive jar of M&M’s into his mouth. That’s what it feels like watching this movie. This movie jams so much crap down the audience’s throats that it just becomes painful and boring.

I have a mixed history with the Fast and Furious franchise. The first is a mediocre action movie. The second is completely forgettable. I actually like the third movie. It tells a simple and coherent story with style. The fourth is a moody boring muddle with crappy cgi. The fifth is a lot of fun. It’s a silly car heist movie with great stunt work. The sixth is silly escapism. The seventh is the pinnacle. This movie is the height of the franchise for me. It blends the absurdity and the sincerity of the series beautifully. The eighth movie is crap. I dislike it so much. It has a stupid incoherent plot and is obsessed with its own world building.

I say all this to establish my credentials as someone who likes the series as a whole. I also don’t hate dumb fun. It’s my favorite kind of fun. When I say this movie sucks, it’s because the movie sucks. Let’s get into why.

The film opens with the story of how Dom’s father died I’m race car crash. We then cut to Don and Letty, played by Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez living a quiet life on a remote farm. She is chafing against their quiet retirement. Adventure comes calling when a former ally sends a message that his plane carrying a super weapon has been shot down. The team reassembles to find the super weapon. It turns Dom’s long lost brother from the flashbacks is working for the man who has kidnapped the villain from the last movie to find the weapon. Meanwhile, Dom discovers that his brother killed their dad. Then they discover that Han, who died either movies ago or two movies ago depending on how you look at the series absurd chronology isn’t actually dead, he’s just been hiding from his family for many years because the former ally used his death to hide the super weapon from someone. At which point Han rescues the daughter of the scientists who made the weapon and Dom’s brother discovers that she is the key to using the weapon, so he gets himself captured by the heroes using a super powers magnet car in order to kidnap the girl and set off a satellite that will destroy the world?

Do you feel like a jar of M&M’s is being poured into your mouth? This movie doesn’t tell a story so much as jam ten or twelve disparate plots together and call it a movie. Dom and Letty living a quiet life yet yearning for adventure? That’s a story. Dom reconciling with his brother? That’s a story. Han faking his death to protect a little girl? That’s a story. Instead of choosing one story to tell the film makers violently smash them all together without any apparent regard for narrative cohesion. It’s a pain to sit through because no element is given time to matter.

Okay but the plots aren’t really the point in these movies is it? It’s about the action. These movies are famous for their amazing action. This movie doesn’t have much of it. There’s an early chase through the jungle with an entire military trying to kill our heroes. Bullets fly, explosions go off, none of it matters. The chase takes them through a mine field. That’s a great location for a car chase. What do they do with that location? They just drive faster and make it through unscathed. A few extra explosions go off, but that’s it.

There’s a scene they’re proud of, it’s in all the trailers, in which Dom Tarzans his car across an impossible ravine. This should be really fun and silly action. I wanted to like this, but it doesn’t work. The impossibility of the stunt, the fact there is no build up to the moment, the fact that it works with complete ease robs the moment of tension or interest.

Justin Lin directed this film. He’s usually a very good action director, but he sucks here. Fistfights are shot in darkness and incomprehensible closeups, so everything just looks like dark blurs. The set-pieces are all wasted like the mine field or the Tarzan car. The worst is just the incompetence on display in the final act.

Dom is in an armored van sliding down a mountain. He looks up and sees a drone coming to shoot him. Cut to the drone. Cut to Dom. He looks down at a small dark object in his hand. Cut to the drone preparing to fire. Cut to Dom doing something with the object then throwing it off screen. He jumps back inside the van. Cut to the drone shooting the van. Cut to the front of the van as an explosion goes off underneath it. The explosion causes the van to roll and land on its wheels on the road. At which point Dom takes the wheel and drives off. I smacked myself in the forehead so hard after this sequence that I’m sure the whole theater heard it.

So what the hell happened in the scene? from what I could piece together after the fact, Dom saw the drone coming he threw a grenade under the front of the van. The grenade blew up sending the van into a roll that helped the van land on its wheels. The grenade did not damage the van in anyway. The drone was just there as an added threat I guess? A closeup of the grenade would have helped us understand what it was he was doing. A shot of the grenade landing under the van would have explained what the explosion was and that it was intentional. A shot of the drone shooting at and narrowly missing Dom would have gone a long way to establish its threat. Without these connective shots were no longer telling a story we’re just stringing together a series of shots and explosions. The scene is so incompetently shot and edited that the dumb isn’t fun. It’s just annoying.

Is this one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen? Yes. The movie cost over $200 million dollars, but couldn’t even assemble a cohesive action scene let alone narrative. The actors give bad performances. The action is bad. The story is a mess. And the worst part is that I was bored throughout the movie! Don’t go see this movie. Don’t reward it’s incompetent story telling. If you’re considering making a return to the theater go see any of the other movies out right now. This one isn’t worth it.

Not my cup of tea. F

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