Zach Gilbert’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sure, F9 is utterly unhinged, but as a huge fan of the franchise, I didn’t expect any different, and this delivered everything I expected and more. And honest to God, I don’t understand the complaints about it being too “cartoonish” - I mean, have you seen the other stunts this team has pulled off? 😂
Having Lin in the director’s chair once again is the key to this sequel’s success. After being underwhelmed by The Fate of the Furious and outright hating Hobbs & Shaw, I couldn’t have been happier to see Fast & Furious return to its roots here with Lin brilliantly balancing the heart, the humor, the madness, and the melodrama. Yes it’s overblown, yes it’s operatic, and yes it’s outrageously entertaining from start to finish.
I’m not gonna sit here and argue that F9 is some staggering high point for cinema or anything, but I also don’t think the story was as subpar as some have said. Sure, I can see how some might think the flashbacks are a bit “silly,” but at this point, you either buy into the series’ soap opera qualities or you don’t, and I’ve been in from the start. Maybe it’s a #HotTake, but I didn’t hate the depiction of Dom and Jakob’s family drama, and I actually thought it was quite touching in the end.
But above all else, a Fast film has to showcase strong action set pieces to truly satisfy its audience, and F9 does just that. From a ride across a landmine-ridden field to a manic car chase through London (chaotically involving the use of magnets) and an actual ascension into outer space, there’s no shortage of thrills in F9, and it’s hard to see how it’s fanbase would be at all disappointed with the dizzying spectacle on display.
Maybe it’s because I saw this at a sold-out showing with a constantly cheering crowd, but F9 is the first movie that’s made me feel that elation that accompanies the theatrical experience for the first time in almost two years. Objectively, I’m sure this doesn’t actually deserve four stars, but fuck it - I had a blast.