‘F9’ a messy and bumpy ride

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A franchise that began 20 years ago seems to continue to outdo its predecessor in how outrageous and over the top it can get. It’s that time once again to rev your engines and put the pedal to the metal in the ninth installment of the “Fast and Furious” series in “F9.”

The film begins with a flashback scene when Dominic Toretto (Vinnie Bennett) is just a young teenager working the pit crew for his father’s racing team. In a surprise to many, Dominic’s little brother, Jacob (Finn Cole), is working alongside Dominic — the brother we had no idea even existed.

When tragedy strikes on the race track, Dominic and Jacob have a falling out and go their separate ways. Dominic, being the golden child and the favorite in his father’s eyes, left much anger and resentment in the younger Toretto brother.

The present day Dominic (Vin Diesel), eager to leave his death-defying lifestyle behind him, is living in isolation on a farm with his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his young son. He realizes he’s a father now and needs to be there for his son, no matter how much he misses the old days.

Of course, with this crew, trouble is always on the horizon. Old friends Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) deliver news that Mr. Nobody’s (Kurt Russell) plane was shot down, and it appears their old nemesis Cipher (Charlize Theron) is back in the fold.

Things get even more complicated when Dominic learns the people they are trying to stop are led by none other than Jacob Toretto (John Cena), his kid brother he hasn’t seen in decades. Jacob is now an international agent working with an agency to control all of the world’s computer systems and defense systems.

As guilty as Dominic feels leaving his son at home, he realizes there may not be a world for his son to grow up in if he doesn’t work with the team to take down his younger brother. With old wounds, high-speed chases, building-hopping, and explosions galore, Dominic and company are going to have to pull out all the stops to prevent global terror from Cipher and a fellow Toretto.

The biggest compliment to give “F9” is there’s never a dull moment, which is easier said than done with a 145-minute runtime. The impossible stunts, dives and car flips have almost become a badge of honor for the series.

To the film’s credit, they’ve come to embrace it. There’s a scene in the film when one character thinks they are all immortal saying, “Think of all the crazy stuff we’ve done through the years, and there’s not a scratch on us.” 

Newcomer John Cena is a welcome addition to the series, as he’s a believable foe to Vin Diesel who can match his character’s brother muscle-for-muscle. Of course, there’s not a wide range of anything new for any of the actors to accomplish. In a film like this, they earn their contract by driving off cliffs and buildings, not delivering award-winning soliloquies.

Without question, “F9” is as fast and furious as any film in the entire series. For some, that will mean two and a half hours of an adrenaline rush. For others, that will mean the impossibility exceeded the entertainment value five minutes into the film, with a plot that is all speed and no direction.

Grade: C+



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