“How the hell are you not dead?”
Story: Guys and gals who have particular sets of skills (like driving cars, doing The Computer, and so on) have had all sorts of adventures together. The laws of physics are never invited. So this time? The world is in danger of being taken over by internet hacker/controller type thingies. To the Batcave, family!
Genre I’d put it in: Wait This Series Is Still Happening/Can’t Help But Watch Action Throwdowns
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Part of the FFCU (the Fast & Furious Cinematic Universe.)
Gotta say: For a film series that has nine episodes and one spin-off in its ouvre, I’ve only ever actually watched the fifth film. And I liked it. But I am definitely not knowledgeable in all things Furious, so I’m absolutely not the target audience for this film. That’s okay though; 9 is one stunning action set piece after another, with brief bits of fan service in-between to serve as “plot”. And that’s fine. You don’t need to know who these characters are, nor what has gone on before, to get a lot of Bay-esque throwdown enjoyment from this flick.
For those of you who don’t really know who’s who, but want a taste so you’re not going in blind? Well, Vin Diesel is The Strong Silent Leader, Michelle Rodriguez is The Badass Love Interest, Tyrese Gibson and Chris (LUDAAAA) Bridges are The Comic Relief Duo, and Nathalie Emmanuel is The Hacker Supreme. Throw in Charlize Theron as a carryover Big Bad, and John Cena as The Brother Nobody Knew About Til Now, and you’ve got the basics. (Oh, and yeah that’s Kurt Russel as the Charlie to the FF crew’s Angels. Good eye, you.)
The plot is basically something-something piece of a thing, something-something another piece plus the key equals taking over all the interwebs, something-something back from the dead and/or just plain ol’ back just because. This film isn’t in it for deep character studies. It’s here to watch cool actors do cool things without losing their cool. Plus, Dame Helen Mirren spins out while wearing diamonds and emeralds…and gets nary a speck of dirt on her beautiful white ensemble.
Think of 9 as a way to revisit characters you’ve come to know and love, if you’re a fan. Casual viewer? Take note of the close ties the characters have – don’t mind that the why of those bonds aren’t explored, this is the ninth film in the series after all – and enjoy how these guys and gals do some of the craziest shit you’ll ever see on film. Including riding a car into space. YES YOU HEARD ME. No, I won’t elaborate. Just trust me, it’s insane, it’s unbelievable, and I hooted with glee through the entire bit.
The problem 9 has is that the characters have impenetrable plot armor. I mean, nobody comes out of the crazy crashes, rolls and/or explosions with as much as a scratch. (Fine, one guy’s jacket does have to be retired. RIP, jacket. We barely knew ye.) That plot armor is fine if you’re simply in it to see crazy stunts and watch your heroes walk away all badass and stuff. But after a while, I stopped caring about the stunt, and simply watched the “drama” unfold. I knew nobody was gonna get hurt, and I knew they’d pull [SCENE] off effortlessly. Yeah, a character or two may take a few punches, but aches and pains? We don’t know her. With my lack of knowledge about what these characters had survived in the past, I just shrugged, hooted at the crazy, and laughed at the moments when a character lampshades the extreme improbability that every single character survives completely intact time after time.
So go ahead and hit the theaters if you’ve got your Fauci Ouchie. Grab yourself the big popcorn, and your favorite beverage. Or better yet, get absolutely blasted on your vice of choice (booze, or candy if you don’t partake), then head to the theater to watch it with a bunch of like-minded pals. 9 screams for an altered brainpan, so you can just sit back and watch the crazy-cool insanity unfold without thinking about it too hard. Like me, you might have no idea what the hell is going on here, but it’s fun to watch those characters tear up the road/sky/space/everything.
#Protip: Stay for an end-credits stinger that will probably make longtime fans very excited.