inkylewetrust1’s review published on Letterboxd:
F9 is my first movie in theaters since The Invisible Man came out way, way back in late February of 2020. I decided to see the film in a DBOX theater as I'd never watched a film in that format and wanted to do it up. It was a uniformly nice experience. DBOX was fun, even if it took me the first 30mins to fully get used to the experience.... But I also was a little underwhelmed because, idk, I figured ANY film I saw as my return to "da moo-vesh" would instantly be kind of magical. And it was fine to be back at the movies, but.... I also felt a little naked not knowing my wife & son weren't in the same place as me (I saw it after I put my toddler down for the night). I've gotten used to seeing most my movies from the comfort of my own home & I probably won't be in a rush to see another one in theaters unless it's an event film (No Time to Die could get me back).
Now, F9: The Fast Saga is a fucking fascinating movie. It's kind of like 2021's version of Robert Zemeckis' What Lies Beneath. In that every twist & every big moment is spoiled in the marketing. I only watched the first trailer for F9 & still the film was largely robbed of it's moments (I honestly think if this film's marketing could've put the post-credit sequence in the trailers it would have). Also, this might be the film where "Producer Vin Diesel" is felt the most. You really feel the absence of The Rock & there's so many weird, idiosyncratic ways F9 is like "...Hey... That Dom Toretto is pretty much the coolest, best, most awesome person, whose never wrong or out of control in any situation." No one can outshine Vin Diesel & that's just not very compelling. This is also like "Fan-Service: The Movie". So. Many. Things. Are. Retconned. It's neither good, nor bad, just kind of baffling. Han is back & how he's back is, uh.... Han is back! Also, now that Han is back he has the opportunity to... well, not do much. He's definitely not allowed to be as charming as he was in the other films. John Cena is Dom's long-lost, never-before-mentioned, brother Jakob and Cena really is aware of what movie he's in. I honestly think John Cena is a pretty great addition to the cast. Charlize Theron is also back... sorta. She's making so big choices here with her limited screen time & it's kind of awesome. Honestly, this is just A LOT of movie, but what's important is the car action! Only the weird thing was that I didn't feel super taken by the set pieces. Which was what I was most excited about with Justin Lin returning. All the action had kind of a weightlessness to it. There's nothing as tactile as the London chase in 6, the mountain chase in 7 or even the submarine chase in 8. The film seems kind of uninterested in the action, so it can get to the next long, protracted dialogue scene. Which, I love this franchise for it's insane melodrama, but it should be counter-balanced by action set pieces that have room to breathe.
So why the no rating (which I know will cost me likes)? Well, I wasn't the biggest fan of 8 when I saw it either & I find that film very fun now. And there's a lot in this film that made me smile. I enjoyed Tyrese a lot in this & I liked how Nathalie Emmanuel's Ramsey got in on the fun in a good sequence. I was happy that Mia was back & got to kick some ass with Michelle Rodriguez. Also, Helen Mirren seems to be having an absolute blast in her one scene. I'm excited to see what they do with John Cena in the future. F9 is definitely the most full-on spy movie the films have ever got so it's got a different vibe to it. I'd like to rewatch it once it comes out on digital and give it another go from the comfort of my own home. I love this franchise & "the family". If this is where they're going for Furious 10 & Fast 11 (or whatever crazy titles those films have) I want to go in with, if not appreciation, then understanding of what I'm in for. I think sometimes sites like Letterboxd (& many, many others) make it so we have to have knee-jerk, "yah" or "nah", reactions to films & I think F9 is genuinely going for something here. It's structurally kind of daring for a NINTH film & weirdly confident in it's lunacy (this movie has dream sequences and shit). It's feels like a calculated recalibration by Diesel & Justin Lin of the franchise. A sort of primer for whatever madness they have in store to close out the series. One that I want to sit with it. Give a think on before reducing it to a 👍 or 👎. For all the joy these films have given me I think it deserves an extra moment for consideration. It's the least I can do for family.
Watched in an honest to God movie theater.