FAST AND FURIOUS 9 is the story of Dominic Toretto and his gang facing threat from none other than Dom’s estranged brother. The film begins in 1989. Dominic Toretto’s (Vinnie Bennett) father Jack Toretto (J D Pardo) is a racer who is killed in an accident while racing. Dominic is soon arrested after he assaults the rival racer who was involved in the accident leading to Jack’s death. In jail, Dominic realizes that it was his brother Jakob (Finn Cole) who did some mischief in Jack’s car and that he is responsible for his demise. After releasing from jail, Dominic challenges Jakob in a race. The deal is that Jakob will have to leave town if he loses. Dominic defeats Jakob and the latter runs away. In the present day, Dominic (Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) their son Brian are living a peaceful life in a remote region. However, Dominic and Letty miss the thrill of their earlier life everyday. One day, their gang members – Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) – come to meet them. They inform Dominic and Letty that the plane carrying Cipher (Charlize Theron) was attacked by some rogue elements due to which it crashed in Montequinto, Central America. Dominic and Letty join them in finding the crash site. In the crashed aeroplane, they find a part of a devise named Ares but they don’t know what it is. At this point, they are attacked by a private army, headed by none other than Jakob (John Cena). Jakob steals the devise from them and escapes. Dominic and his gang then learn that what Jakob stole was one half of Ares. Once they get both the parts of Ares and they are able to unlock it, they’ll be able to hack into any computer-controlled weapons system. The other half of Ares is in Edinburgh where Jakob is headed too. Dominic and his gang follow suit. Meanwhile, they also find out that their deceased gang member Han Lue (Sung Kang) is also somehow connected with Ares. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Justin Lin, Alfredo Botello and Daniel Casey's story is ideal for this franchise. Daniel Casey and Justin Lin's screenplay is entertaining but has several loose ends. The first half has lot of drama but very little action and even the drama is not that exciting. Also, its predictable; one can easily guess from a mile that Jakob will get double crossed at some point and that he’ll join Dominic. Dialogues are simple and witty at some places
Justin Lin's direction is great but one wishes he was equipped with a tighter script. Talking about the plus points, he handles the scale, the action and grandeur very well. A few dramatic scenes are deftly handled. On the flip side, the film has a lengthy run time (2.23 hours). The first half hardly has any action and after a point, it tests your patience. Thankfully, there’s plenty of action scenes in the second half and it compensates for the shortcomings to some extent.
Vin Diesel, as expected, is at his best. He’s the face of the franchise and he contributes to the mass quotient of the film. John Cena has an important part and is fair. Michelle Rodriguez is restrained in dramatic scenes but quite fun while performing stunts. Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges contribute to the humour in the film. Nathalie Emmanuel springs a surprise in the second half in the Edinburgh chase sequence. Charlize Theron and Jordana Brewster (Mia Toretto) get limited scope. Sung Kang is hardly there. Also the reason why he didn’t die and was underground all these years is not very convincing. Helen Mirren (Magdalene “Queenie” Shaw) is wasted. Anna Sawai (Elle) doesn’t have much to do after her whistle worthy action scene. But she can make for a great addition in the future installments of the series. Lucas Black (Sean Boswell) is strictly okay. Vinnie Bennett is great as the young Dominic. He even sounds like Vin Diesel to an extent. Fin Cole is fine. Jason Statham (Derek Shaw) appears in the mid-credit scene.
Brian Tyler's music is theatrical and enhances impact. Stephen F Windon's cinematography is spectacular. The lensman tries his best to get creative while taking shots and it gives a nice touch. Action and VFX are exhilarating. It is seen to be believed in the land mine sequence and the scenes where the electromagnetic waves create madness. Dylan Highsmith, Kelly Matsumoto and Greg D'Auria's editing should have been crisper in the first half.
On the whole, FAST AND FURIOUS 9 is a decent, time pass entertainer which will be loved by the masses and the fans of the series. However, the long length, a comparatively unexciting first half and the prolonged lockdown for cinemas in Maharashtra would affect the box office collections in the long run.
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