F9 ★★★½

Went in with almost the worst of expectations. “Fate” and “Hobbs & Shaw” barely function as competent escapism let alone films. But here our lord and savior of the Fast world, Justin Lin, returns with a vengeance and makes by far the most gleefully batshit entry yet. One filled to the brim with Saturday morning cartoon body slamming action scenes, juicy soap opera melodrama, and as always, a disarming amount of earnestness. 

Despite it’s many attempts to seemingly over-complicate everything (like seriously WTF was that Han back story), Lin and co. keep this thing pretty tight even at 140 min. It moves so smoothly from each set piece to the next (every single set piece is a total eye-melting blast). Cena chews up his freaking scenes with a devilish ferocity. Roman and Tej have borderline fourth-wall-breaking cosmic contemplations on their mortality. We get some surprisingly powerfully directed Toretto origin story flashbacks. This also just feels so much more centered now with The Rock out of the fold to be quite honest.

It’s loud nonsense but also exceedingly compelling and warm. There is immense relaxation in the chaos of this film. This goes 140 mph past self-awareness and parody and goes somewhere I’m genuinely not even sure I’ve seen a film do. But it’s a special treat and one that was genuinely stunning to enjoy with a crowded audience. Can’t wait to see where this goes further (especially with Han back in the fold)!

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