Well folks, it has finally happened! Theaters are open again up here in Ontario, Canada, and I decided to make my return to the big screen with some mindless action. Despite the fact that this movie is the ninth chapter in an overall ridiculous franchise, this is going to get a little deeper than it probably should, on a personal level. But first, one must understand what going to the movies means to me. I'm typically there about once a week, but due to Covid, theaters have been closed, and I have been grounded. Before this, the last time I got to go was for 'New Mutants', almost a year ago.
Returning to the big screen with a movie like 'F9' was a friendly reminder of what the big screen experience was all about for yours truly. This kind of "throw-you-brain-away" action ride is exactly the type of thing the big screen was meant for. This series could be considered something of a present-day 'Die Hard' saga, complete with heavy, fast action, likable heroes and a whole lot of physics bending. I learned to throw reality out the window with these a long time ago, and this has to be, quite possibly, their best example of needing to do that yet. With these scenes, there was a lot of me laughing because for as stupid as they are, you can't help but think of them as part of the ride you're taking.
This chapter, however, does have an interesting balance to it as it opens in the past, portraying a younger Dominic Toretto (Vinnie Bennett) back in '89, where he and his brother, Jakob (Finn Cole) assist in the pit crew of their father, Jack's (JD Pardo) race. This is reflective to a story Dom tells in the first chapter, where he nearly beats a man to death for evidently crashing his dad's car, killing him. Fast-forward to the present, and Dom (Vin Diesel) has since retired from action, living with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and raising their son, little Brian (Isaac/Immanuel Holtane). Being typical of this kind of movie though, things cut right to the chase to pull Dom out of retirement.
Roman, Tej and Ramsey (Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Nathalie Emmanuel, respectively) pull up to Dom and Letty's peaceful existence to deliver the news that Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) has captured Cipher (Charlize Theron), but his plane was attacked by rogue agents only to crash-land in the fictional Montequinto. The deciding factor that puts Dom back in action is the realization that his brother, Jakob (John Cena) is involved. Without unfolding the whole story, however, things take off from there and we have the standard 'Fast' movie, starring pretty much literally everyone from the past. And the biting question everyone has is finally answered - yes, they do go to space in this movie.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that this is either the best or worst of the series, but I might suggest that it's probably the most interesting. It probably happened way before this, but with this chapter I definitely found that the series has totally come to terms with itself. This is less of a solid movie and more of a Saturday morning 'Fast & Furious' cartoon. I think that if you can go into these treating them as such, and never taking them seriously, you can have a really good time with them. This was no exception, and in fact is probably the cartooniest of all so far. They hit up space, the stunts are insane (you can't catch someone flying through the air on the hood of your car and have things be okay), and if you can't throw reality out the window with this, you're just plain doomed.
One thing that really stood out to me here, however, is that this was definitely one for the more solid fans of the franchise. They bring in so many characters from the past here that I had forgotten about some of them. So it might very well be worth doing a bit of homework on the series before going, whether that means going through all of the previous movies or just Googling a lot of the basics, it might be worth going through. Then again, if you're like me and just wanna buckle in and go for a ride without it really meaning much of anything other than fun, I say go for it. It's not what I'd call a good movie, but not a lot of these ever really are. But that does not mean you can't go back to the big screen after all this time and just have some fun with it.