Movie Reviews

Review: “F9: The Fast Saga” Speeds Into The Tyler Perry Effect

Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he’s going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom’s forsaken brother, Jakob (John Cena, the upcoming The Suicide Squad).

F9: The Fast Saga -Trailer

F9: The Fast Saga – Movie Review:

The Good:

As expected, F9 comes all the way through on its delivery of jaw dropping stunts and action. Clearly, “Car Lives Don’t Matter” had to be the mantra of this movie because every and any car was being hurled around with no regard. (And it was an awesome sight to see!) The new technology that the Fast Team utilizes was nicely incorporated into the stunts as well.

The fight scenes and car chases were also pretty thrilling. My favorite part was the opening sequence of the movie with all of the explosions. That was definitely captivating and the explosive moments will keep you on the edge of your seat.

(from left) Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Dom (Vin Diesel) in F9, co-written and directed by Justin Lin.

As for the story, two positives here are the nice reunions and callbacks to the previous films. As advertised we do get a special return of a fan favorite character that contributes to the plot of the story. I also appreciated the flashback moments in the story that helped to add a bit more depth to both Dom and Jakob’s characters. It was such a treat to get back to the street racing element that started the franchise. We even get some meta-jokes with the film poking fun at itself. Roman Pearce (played by Tyrese) does have some pretty funny moments with his commentary on the ridiculousness of the adventures of the Fast Family.

The Bad:

While the big budget stunts are certainly fun to watch, many of them simply made no real sense at all. I’m not even talking about the stunts that defy the laws of physics. I’m talking about the fact that some stunts were just put into the movie for no reason other than to just have a stunt. It’s one thing to make a stunt outlandish, but it’s another thing to just do things just because. For example, there’s a scene where characters just randomly jump out of a window from a three-story building. They didn’t know what was on the ground level. It wasn’t a planned jump or anything like that either. They just jumped just for the sake of jumping. Just because the characters make meta jokes about the crazy stunts they’re in, doesn’t give a legit excuse to make the stunts even more nonsensical.

Tyrese Gibson as Roman in F9, co-written and directed by Justin Lin.

In addition to that, even while F9 does poke fun at itself for being ridiculous, the story still takes itself seriously. That’s what makes this so weird. Either you commit to just being a full on comedy, or a high stakes action thriller. It’s not impossible to be both, but the execution here missed the mark. When you think about it, there’s absolutely no reason as to why any of the characters in this movie should still be alive.

(from left) Dom (Vin Diesel) and Jakob (John Cena) in F9, co-written and directed by Justin Lin.

Next up is the really bad acting. There are some really cringe-worthy moments where the acting just falls completely apart. Vin Diesel and John Cena simply don’t deliver with their performances here. All the tight-faced drama between the two simply didn’t land. Sometimes  their overacting made them look more constipated than emotionally hurt. Also, for whatever reason, Vin Diesel just has to find a way to flex in almost every scene he’s in. It’s just kind of weird especially when this film unnecessarily turns him into the Incredible Hulk. If you’re familiar with the Biblical story of Samson, then you’ll know what I’m referring to.

(from left) Dom (Vin Diesel), Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) and Jakob (John Cena) with additional cast members in F9, co-written and directed by Justin Lin.

A minor problem with F9 is the spoilery marketing which reveals the return of Han. The issue here is that Han’s return is crafted within the film as a big surprise. However, that surprise element is obviously negated when the trailers, movie posters, and big promotional events announce it ahead of time. While it isn’t the worst flaw in this film, it’s just sad to know that there was a missed opportunity to have a fantastic surprise be ruined.

(from left) Han (Sung Kang) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) in F9, co-written and directed by Justin Lin.

Speaking of Han, he’s just another reminder of how poor the writing was in this film. Obviously with his return being widely advertised, the biggest question is how did he survive his apparent death in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Unfortunately, the answer that is provided just comes off as lazy and not that interesting. It was a bit of a letdown for me because the way he appeared to die seemed really hard to explain his return. For whatever reason, F9 couldn’t explain it very well either, even with their “Harry Potter” like excuse.

The Verdict:

F9 is probably the weakest of all the Fast and Furious films in the franchise.  This 9th installment has taken the franchise down the path of being more of a joke than it intends to be. At this point, F9 is just a live action cartoon that requires you to turn off your brain to enjoy it. With that said, the movie is still entertaining. To be more clear, fans of the franchise will still be pleased with this film regardless of whatever flaws it may have. That is because this franchise is benefiting from what I’d call the “Tyler Perry Effect”.

Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto in F9, co-written and directed by Justin Lin.

The “Tyler Perry Effect” is what happens when a movie’s primary directive is to create content that appeals to only the core of the fanbase. At the same time, any and all flaws that could make the movie technically better, or even attract a wider audience, are completely ignored. For example, some people may criticize Tyler Perry movies for having bad wigs, or over dramatic stereotypical characters. However, Mr. Perry disregards the constructive criticism because his fanbase ignores it too. So as long as the fans are happy, that’s all that matters. F9 falls in this same situation. Despite the plethora of flaws called out in the writing, acting, or just plain lack of logic, the films continue to churn out a level of fan-service that enables the fanbase to be happy regardless. And you know what? That’s okay.

(from left) Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Earl (Jason Tobin, back to camera) in F9, co-written and directed by Justin Lin.

It is totally fine for films to cater to their fanbase, even if it’s at the risk of losing a broader appeal. If Tyler Perry movies aren’t for you, then you just skip them. Same applies here with the Fast franchise. Personally, I thought they should’ve ended around part 6 or maybe 7 (with Paul Walker’s passing). However, this new exaggerated direction that they’re taking is something you will have to decide on your own as to whether it’s worth your time to watch or not.

Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto in F9, co-written and directed by Justin Lin.

Thus, if you like the wild and crazy stunts, and the ever constant theme of family, then F9 is certainly a movie you’ll want to see. Due to the insane stunts, I’d also recommend watching it in theaters. If you happen to be tired of the over the top stuff from the previous movies, then you may want to wait and stream F9 at a later date.

Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Justin Lin, Alfredo Botello, Daniel Casey
Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, with Helen Mirren, with Kurt Russell, and Charlize
F9: The Fast Saga will be in theaters June 25, 2021. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

  • Acting - 6/10
  • Cinematography - 7/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 6/10
  • Watchability - 7/10
  • Rewatchability - 5/10
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