Monday, July 12, 2021

Tonight's Movie: F9: The Fast Saga (2021)

I'm back from a wonderful trip up north!

Needless to say, we spent lots of time enjoying our new grandsons. We also took time out to visit the fascinating Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon, which will be shared in a future post, and we went to a couple of movies.

Ordinarily going to a movie wouldn't be particularly noteworthy, but needless to say, we haven't been living in normal times. F9: THE FAST SAGA (2021) and BLACK WIDOW (2021) were the first indoor theatrical films I'd seen since March 11, 2020, when I saw THE LONG HAUL (1957) at the Noir City Film Festival.

Seeing this pair of films from two much-loved series in a theater at long, long last felt like rather a triumph. No streaming for these films, but a giant screen, theater popcorn, and reacting with an audience...I appreciated it all more than ever. Needless to say, over the course of a year I watch most movies at home -- but there's just nothing quite like the theatrical experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed F9: THE FAST SAGA, including the silliest parts. I unabashedly love this series, its characters and traditions, and it rather felt as though the "family" was welcoming me back to the movies.

Just as I wrote about FAST & FURIOUS 6 (2013) a few years ago, on one level the film is completely unbelievable, with cars and characters completely defying the laws of physics. The movie actually winks at this with Roman (Tyrese Gibson) speculating whether something strange has happened to them...why haven't they died during some of their crazy adventures? Is it possible they are superheroes?

But on another level, two decades' worth of FAST movies means there's enormous heart and camaraderie to go along with the new back story for Dom (Vin Diesel), as the audience learns along with his friends that he has a long-lost brother, Jakob (John Cena).

By the time Roman and Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) are floating around in space near movie's end, we just laugh and go with it, because we know that soon enough everyone will be gathered for a scene which is literally and figuratively more grounded, saying grace around the beloved backyard table at Dom's old house in L.A.

One of the things I enjoy about the series is that while the movies are ostensibly built around tough guys and their cars, there are also some strong women's roles. I especially enjoy computer whiz Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), whose expertise is as necessary to the group as anyone's driving skills. She unexpectedly finds herself driving this time around and displaying such talent that Dom says "You're a natural!"

Dom's girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) remains an uncompromisingly tough gal, one of the more unique female characters of recent decades.

Dom's sister, the gentler Mia (Jordana Brewster), tends to spend a lot of time looking worried, but the story works well with her arriving to help Dom deal with their errant brother, while her husband Brian (the late Paul Walker) is said to be keeping the next generation safe back at home. It's a nice turn on tradition having the wife off saving the world while the husband baby-sits.

The movies, I would add, have handled Walker's absence perfectly, and I especially appreciate that they have created scenes mentioning Brian which cause the viewer to feel a warm glow rather than sadness. This movie's final shot of a blue car pulling into Dom's driveway caused me to gasp; what a beautiful moment.

The film's many pleasures include a brief but perfect return of Helen Mirren as Queenie, matriarch of the Shaw clan, as well as Kurt Russell as the gang's government contact, Mr. Nobody. (For those who might wonder, Scott Eastwood's Little Nobody is MIA in this one.) Anna Sawai joins the cast as Elle.

It's no surprise to anyone who's seen the trailers or posters that Han (Sung Kang) is, in the best soap opera tradition, back from the dead. He's at least the second character the series has resurrected, following in the footsteps of Letty. Personally I would really love it if next time around they could manage to resurrect Han's girlfriend Gisele, who was played by the pre-WONDER WOMAN (2017) Gal Gadot.

And yes, there will be a next time around; FAST & FURIOUS 10 is in the works. No specific spoilers here, but I might have exclaimed "YES!" reacting to Han's end credits tag scene, which promises loads of fun in the next installment, including a favorite character who was absent in this entry.

F9's 2 hours and 23 minutes fly by (and given the final set piece, I guess that's an unintentional pun). For those of us who enjoy this series, it's a good time at the movies.

Parental advisory: F9 is rated PG-13. It's a typical Fast & Furious movie, with lots of wrecks and violence but no gore. Dedication to family, whether blood or adopted, remains a key theme, along with forgiveness.

Here is a trailer.

F9: THE FAST SAGA was directed by Justin Lin, who cowrote the script with Daniel Casey. The cinematography was by Stephen F. Windon.

Previous reviews in this series: THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001), 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS (2003), FAST & FURIOUS (2009), FAST FIVE (2011), FAST & FURIOUS 6 (2013), FURIOUS 7 (2015), THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017), and FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (2019).

Coming soon: A review of Scarlett Johansson's stand-alone Marvel film, BLACK WIDOW (2021).


Blogger CLM said...

New grandsons! I missed that exciting news. Congratulations! Sorry that they are not a little closer.


9:05 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much, Constance! Identical twins. :) We are also sorry they're not closer!! Made reservations tonight to go back this fall.

Best wishes,

10:38 PM  

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