This was spectacularly crap.
Car chases? Oh yeah. Gun fights? Aplenty. High stakes? The highest. Me as a viewer engaged? Nope.
I can’t tell if I’m fatigued as a viewer, the franchise is fatigued or this really was just bad. For whatever the reason I could just not get into this movie. I’m a big popcorn movie person but this just couldn’t drag me along for the ride.
Before we get any further I really want to make sure that I make a point of this though:
Fuck the marketing for this movie!
Those trailers show everything! They show the last scene of the movie, the climax of the last big set-piece, they show not one but both big character reveals and they show the abridged version of the entire opening sequence. Essentially if you saw all the trailers you’ve nearly seen all the movie.
And I get that the pandemic has drawn out the marketing for the film. And I get that certain actors are big draws for the series. Absolutely I get it. But I think part of the reason I was so out of this movie was because I recognised everything that was happening. My favourite parts of the movie were these flashbacks that I didn’t know were going to be there. I actually loved them and would take an entire movie of them.
And I feel so bad shitting all over this movie. I really, really like director Justin Lin. I was so hopeful that his return would be a return to form for the series. My F9 prep was Better Luck Tomorrow and Tokyo Drift. His previous 4 entries are basically the benchmark of the series (though I also liked 7 a lot). But Lin just couldn’t get the job done.
For me the reason is something out of everyone’s control. Not having Paul Walker breaks the franchise for me. Brian grounds the movies. He makes for a good double act with Dom, he has his own compelling solo adventures and is who draws people to the series. I didn’t realise til he was gone but Paul Walker was the reason I watched these movies in the first place. Sure I love Tokyo Drift but that movie is its own thing. If we’re talking the series proper then Paul Walker was the glue that held it all together.
There’s a lot of other mishaps that keep this movie was being great but two movies now with no Paul Walker and it just isn’t working for me. It didn’t help that in Fate of the Furious they chose a story that would directly need Brian’s intervention. This movie tried to work around that issue and did a good job with that. It just couldn’t avoid the cold-hard fact that the series needs this character or at least a very worthy replacement that they just haven’t found yet.
Not as bad as 8 but that’s hardly a compliment: ★★