F9 ★★★

When John Cena climbed onto his third zipline to continue whizzing across the streets of Edinburgh, I lost by goddamned mind in the movie theatre. I can still hear that high pitched whirring noise in my head.

This entry wasn't too bad. I did not expect a Dominic Toretto vision-quest sequence, to say the least. This is the most narratively bizarre of the series, even moreso than 8 with its submarine shenanigans. A smash cut to Kurt Russell screaming on an iPad screen is the film's inciting incident, and from there the story launches into a global fetch quest seeking to join two Bionicle containers together before John Cena does. This entry also contains the most abrasive retconning we've yet seen, with the return of characters long dead, and the reveal of new characters that maybe should have received a mention. I'm totally cool with the introduction of John Cena's character as an opportunity for some nicely presented 35mm flashbacks; it's the revelation that Han has emerged from his fateful T-boning that's a little harder to swallow. It just goes to show the impact that Sung Kang has on this franchise, and I do this his calmer attitude is pretty important to bring back to the franchise after Paul Walker's departure.

I do think a two-part finale is good timing for the franchise at this point. There were moments where F9 felt lacking compared to its predecessors, which indicates that they're riding that line right before complete tedium (this is already the case for many viewers). Still, I had fun with this. I'd like for the finale to have a more stripped back approach to its action and characters, but part of me thinks that's an unlikely proposition.

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