Fast and Furious 9: A family-filled meme that's worth watching
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As the only member of the DRIVEN team who's a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise, I didn't face much competition when we were offered tickets to the New Zealand premiere.
I understand why the franchise has its critics, but these movies have come a long way from the car enthusiast-friendly flicks that they once were, and can't be taken too seriously.
Right off the bat, the movie starts with race scene, which scores points in my books because high octane action is what you want to see in a car movie.
Rising Kiwi star Vinnie Bennett takes a starring role as playing the young Dominic Toretto, and fits the role perfectly, nailing Dom's straight-to-the-point sentences that don't always make sense.
Soon after the racing is over, it's back to the regularly scheduled programme of hunting down an international criminal over some world-ending tech (who saw that coming?). You'll probably already know that John Cena takes the role of Dom's long-lost brother, and as you can imagine, they spend most of the movie smacking each other with their overly muscular forearms.
As a whole, the movie isn't big on context, so you have to fill in the blanks yourself, like asking why Dom thought a Dodge Charger Hellcat would be a good jungle-bashing machine. But that's all part of the fun.
Like the rest of the post-Tokyo Drift movies, the focus is on the action more than it is the cars, but they still manage to throw some interesting rides into the mix. In my opinion, Dom's mid-engined, wide-body, Hellcat-powered classic Dodge Charger tops the list of cool cars, but Han's Supra that's painted like the Tokyo Drift RX-7, and Helen Mirren's purple Noble both deserve a mention.
It's saving grace are the references back to the original movies with actual street races happening, and NOS buttons that shoot blue flames from the car's exhaust while it is sent into light speed.
For the most part, the action is so over-the-top that it's laughable, and it can feel like a spoof movie at times with characters like Cardi B making strange appearances. But that's the point, this Fast and Furious franchise is somewhat self-aware of how ridiculous it has all become, and plays into this perfectly.