Please, while you chew on this adrenal gland—freshly plucked from wherever in your body one might have previously found your adrenal gland—let me spin for you a story about the audio-visual extravaganza that is F9.
Picture yourself driving through a minefield—not figuratively; literally—in a souped-up, freshly waxed Dodge Charger. A whole platoon of Central American soldiers is chasing you and your gang of loveable yeggs, guns-ablazin’, all because you dared encroach on their forbidden and made-up country to retrieve half of the most dangerous object in the world, which has crashed in a super secret spy plane no one bothered to notice until you arrived at the obvious wreckage by the side of the road a day later.
And that’s when shit gets real. Your long-lost villainous brother shows up in his own muscle car to swipe the diabolical object right out of your hands so he can then drive full-speed off an ocean-front cliff just so a plane with a giant magnet on it can swoop in, with impeccable timing, and grab his fucking car right out of the clear blue sky.
Do you see? Can you understand what I’m saying? Because if you’re Jakob, Dominic Toretto‘s long-lost brother, all of that—each event in that sequence, happening in order—is Plan A.
Jakob (John Cena, making Vin Diesel look talented) showed up to an insane minefield firefight with his nemesis brother—a day after the plane crashed—planning to DRIVE OFF A CLIFF so a MAGNET PLANE (?) could SWOOP HIM UP as if it were a seagull and he were a wind-tossed french fry.
That is one hell of a Plan A. Hats off to that Plan A. Pants off to that Plan A.
It’s the kind of Plan A that doesn’t just preclude a Plan B, it’s one that tells Plan B to go fuck itself because only people without magnet planes need a Plan B. It’s the kind of Plan A that would take so long to arrange you’d have no choice but to implement it, because all the remotely sensible plans would now be less practical than inventing and fielding a magnet plane.
This is how F9 begins. From there, it gets a tad silly. It stretches the imagination a bit. But man does that (your) adrenal gland taste good.
F9 (in German, ‘pf, nein’) is a heartwarming tale of family, auto-sports, and really powerful magnets. If you’ve seen the other Fast & Furious films, you know what to expect, except this time the F&F family has been pushed through a fine-mesh sieve and mixed with some sort of industrial lubricant so they can all be injected directly into your buttocks. Watching it at the drive-in, I was reminded of a classic Onion article, in which the CEO of the Gillette Company comments, “Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades“.
But F9 is no f’n joke. This is serious business. The fate of the world hangs in the balance (again), and our only possible salvation lies with Dom (Vin Diesel) and his troupe of every single other character from every single other F&F film except for those played by people who can act. And you think I’m kidding? I’m not kidding. Fuck everything, we’re doing five blades.
Don Omar shows up as Santos from Fast Four and Gal Gadot appears in a flashback as the deceased Gisele. Jordana Brewster‘s Mia re-joins the active-duty crew after being sidelined when Paul Walker really died and they needed to write his Brian O’Conner character out of the series. Lucas Black, Bow Wow, and Jason Tobin jump out of your malarial dreams as their god-awful characters from the god-awful third film, Tres Fast, Tres Furious. Han (Sung “actually an actor” Kang) comes back from the dead and how dare you want anything resembling a real explanation of what happened there. I think he survived using magnets and nitrous oxide?
And—wait, there’s more—other people that maybe I should have recognized? Hard to say at the drive-in. Cardi B shows up. Has she been in other F&F films? I’m not sure if I was supposed to know or be able to make sense of who her character was in this one. Throughout the movie, my most reliable reaction was, “Wait, what?”
In past F&F reviews, I’ve described how these movies aren’t really movies, which is very true. F9 pushes that experiment even farther, proving that more isn’t always better. Which isn’t to say it’s bad. It’s to say it’s a Fast & Furious thing and you either want to chew on your own adrenal gland or you’re a communist.
I’m no communist. I just think we should tax the living hell out of billionaires and (maybe) not invite them back from space if they think going there is a better idea than paying for public schools. Speaking of space, this is the F&F film where they finally go to space. Why, you ask, do they go to space?
Honestly: who can tell? Would you like me to attempt to explain as part of a summary of F9? Very well; I’ll try.
It starts with the above described hullabaloo. There’s something about finding both halves of the massively dangerous glowing testicle thing, which will hack every computer in the world instantly and allow you to control everyone and everything if you launch a satellite and then realize you should have upload the software to it, first. It was too powerful to exist so they destroyed it. Sorry, no: they cut it in half and hid the activation code, which is almost the same thing? And then they flew one half of it on a plane—with the villain from the last film, Cypher (Charlize Theron)—over a made-up Central American country because there was a sale on llamas and you needed a world-destroying device and a psychopathic uber-hacker to get the really good deals.
Well? You tell me.
It turns out that Dom’s twisted brother, who was involved in his dad’s racetrack death, is working with some dictator’s son to collect the pieces of the glowing testicle and it will take many many many many car chases and explosions and a disturbing amount of needless killing to stop them. It makes not a single lick of sense but you’d be surprised how long an adrenal gland will keep its flavor if you just keep grinding your teeth on it.
Then Roman and Tej shoot themselves into space in Ford Fiesta, kick the ever-living crap out of Jeff Bezos, and get back in time for dinner. Only one of those things isn’t true, but no one cares which.
If Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw made the mistake of partitioning off the series’ two most engaging characters and making things less than utterly preposterous, this one makes the mistake of not including Hobbs or Shaw (except in cameo). That means we get extra Vins Diesel, including a scene in which he insists on pulling an entire building down around him using two chains and his biceps. My engineer friend who used to work for NASA was with me, and he said this was totally plausible. He is also currently strapping a rocket engine to his Ford Fiesta and shaving with a five-bladed razor.
Only one of those things is true, but no one cares which.
There are going to be two more of these films. I’m fairly sure I can survive that long without an adrenal gland? They will have a hard time topping going to space, unless they start traveling interdimensionally? Do a crossover event with the Avengers? Learn how to act?
And look: there’s so much I haven’t mentioned. Massive action set pieces that destroy all of Tbilisi. The ghost of Brian O’Conner spending the whole film as a babysitter. Han’s ninja-vixen-schoolgirl protege (Anna Sawai). The mystery of what happened to Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell)? The miracle of Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster somehow getting progressively younger. The even bigger mystery of how Dom manages to find a mint, vintage, matte black, bullet-proof Dodge Charger in whatever city he happens to be in.
Stay tuned, adrenaline junkies, to see how many characters, physical paradoxes, and blades they can shove into the next one. Rumor has it, it’s going to be about family. I’m sure Eva Mendez and Devon Aoki will be in it.
If I were their agents, that would be my Plan A.