Cipher enlists the help of Jakob, Dom’s younger brother to take revenge on Dom and his team.
The Fast series reaches its twenty year milestone with the ninth film in the franchise Fast Nine from Justin Lin. While he didn’t start the franchise back in 2001, Lin has delivered five films in this series starting with Tokyo Drift, and he’s also likely to be at the helm of the tenth instalment which is on the way.
The franchise has certainly come a long way from its street racer beginnings, they’ve gone from dealing with rival gangs and organized street thugs to CIA agents and James Bond tier villains with maniacal plans on a global level. Lin’s ambition has grown with each of his films and Fast Nine is no exception. For such a long running franchise it was only a matter of time before it circled back to the beginning, with this film exploring some of the foundations of the entire franchise with backstory introduced by Rob Cohen’s film in 2001.
Lin obviously knows these films well and treads delicately as he seeks to merge old and new ideas, the introduction of a brother to Dom while being consistent with what we already know. Not only does Lin return the series to its roots, but he draws on multiple films since then giving a big focus to the extended world building that has emerged over time within these films.
Fast Nine brings all the elements we’ve come to expect from this saga, over the top action sequences, extravagant cars, an amazing looking cast, clunky dialogue, a broad universe of characters and mostly importantly a deeply entrenched theme of family underpinning the entire film. The sense of family has never been stronger in this series, the only real surprise in Fast Nine is that it’s taken this many films before we’ve seen this idea for a Fast villain.
Fast Nine is probably a little more clunky than usual for an instalment in the saga, particularly with its dialogue and some performances. It takes its level of insane ridiculousness just one step further with Lin also becoming a little more self-indulgent and self-referential here, particularly through his comedic sensibilities which are delivered brilliantly as usual by Tyrese Gibson. John Cena makes his presence felt, which always a tall order given the returning ensemble cast here, Vin Diesel is fine but his performance felt a little routine and retconning aside he’s not bringing anything overly new or exciting this time around.
Nathalie Emmanuel remains a welcome addition to the fast cast continuing her entertaining comedic rapport with Gibson and Ludacris while Sung Kang’s inclusion along with Lucas Black just rounds out Fast Nine’s grasp for almost all corners of the franchise. Sung Kang’s return to the series has long been teased, and while his presence is welcome it’s a shame he didn’t have a little more to do and that his reunion with Lucas Black couldn’t have been explored a little further, dwelled on more.
The action here is every part as high energy and ridiculous as what you’d expect going in, and Lin manages to push things just a bit further each time he returns. Fast Nine is no exception and whether you enjoy the style or not it’s a visual assault and engaging beginning to end.
By this stage it’s unlikely any new film in the series is going to be winning over new fans, but as a series it’s also maintained its consistency for a long time and will likely keep existing fans coming back. The series is certainly an anomaly as far as ongoing franchises go but it’s managed to simply tap into a theme with characters that audiences love and want to keep spending time with.
Overall Fast Nine is a sound entry into the franchise, not its high point and Paul Walker’s presence continues to be missed, however this remains an entertaining film with a lot going on for long term fans of the series to have some fun with and it easily gives Lin a strong foundation for taking the next step with the series.
I’m giving it 7 out of 10, Fast Nine is now showing in cinemas.