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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

    ‘F9: The Fast Saga:’ It’s about family

    Ben Nietzel
    Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

    Muscatine Living

    “F9: The Fast Saga” is the ninth installation of the Fast and the Furious franchise. It’s a franchise that has gone from humble beginnings as a street racing heist movie to the premiere action franchise not wearing tights.

    Pro – Entertaining

    Much like their main character Dominic Toretto, the Fast films live their screen life a quarter mile at a time. What these films lack in story and plot, they make up for with ensemble casts, exotic locations, and over-the-top action. “F9: The Fast Saga” is no exception. From the onset, Dom and his crew of “family” is pulled into an international “incident” to rescue “Mr. Nobody.” Immediately, the NOS fueled action roars to life on the screen. Don’t remember who Mr. Nobody is? Don’t worry. That’s the beauty and curse of these films; almost everyone is interchangeable.

    “Fast 9” keeps it that way, moving from locale to locale and action set-piece to even more outlandish action set-piece before the audience can ask questions like, “where is this?” and “why are they here?” There is clearly pressure to out do each previous film, and that leads to some pretty spectacular visuals. The cast continues to grow and yet retains a cool vibe. It’s a testament to the film series that it can incorporate so many diverse talents and even swap out pieces like John Cena for The Rock.

    Pro – Back to the future

    “F9” introduces Dom’s brother, Jakob (John Cena) into the franchise. Having gone eight movies without mentioning Jakob, the film has some work to do to explain who he is and where he’s been. This is especially true for a character like Dom who can’t put together two sentences in a row without mentioning family. This leads to a enjoyable section of the movie set in the past. It’s nice to get some background on young Dom and of course the bar-b-que loving Papa Toretto. In true F&F style, this section never drags, with stock car races and fist fights aplenty. The young actors playing Dom and Jakob are good, and this return to the basic routes of the franchise are some of the best parts.

    Con – Where’s the party at?

    There are two major downsides to “F9.” The first is nothing new. The franchise has clearly shifted further and further towards a world-saving action franchise as it strives to up the stakes every movie. While that makes for some pretty enjoyable action film fodder, it does sort of lose some of the shine of the first five films. “Fast and Furious” felt like an underground club. It was cool, dangerous, and just a lot of fun. It felt like a look into another world that most people will never know. Now, it just feels like Dom could look up and see Thor fly overhead. It’s still fun and cool, but not nearly as novel.

    Additionally, “F9” feels like a holding pattern for “F10.” There’s never any doubt about what’s going to happen to John Cena’s character, and so the movie feels like a professional wrestling turn that’s way too obvious, but still obligated to go through the motions.

    “F9: The Fast Saga” ushers in the summer blockbuster season. It is exactly what audiences expect it to be, and that’s a great thing. Hop in your souped up Honda Accord and race over to the Fridley Palms Theatres to give this one a watch.

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