Fast 9 is profoundly absurd. There is no way around it. Having missed Fast 5-8, I assumed there would be a disconnect between the storyline and the overall understanding of the franchise, but fortunately the utter disregard for narrative in this series rendered this moot.
The movie opens on a race car roaring through the opening credits. Set in 1989, the tone is forced pretty squarely into what producers surely think matches that of the first film, but instead comes across as if someone read through the franchise wiki instead of actually watching it. We’re quickly treated to what would be the first of many flashbacks, meeting a young Dom (Vin Diesel) who is not yet a super spy, but a lowly #family mechanic. A little juxtaposition, and a minor cameo by Micheal Rooker later, we’re privy to a major life milestone that would change the Toretto family dynamic forever.
With origin story out of the way, the movie pivots to something of a Marvel feel. Retired on a farm, Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are comfy ranchers with an arsenal of guns at their fingertips, the only moment of solace before an action-packed adventure ride full of action and adventure. #Family characters roll up to the farm and inform the retired East LA super spies that things are once again getting weird, and it’s time to take care of business.
What follows is a mélange of action sequences, including a Jurassic Park-esque jungle ride, landmines, and an unstoppable armored car, all of which are punctuated by Tyrese dropping one-liners like he’s auditioning for a spot on Def Comedy Jam. This includes a running joke where he genuinely believes that the #family is actually indestructible, a notion the now (sort of?) astrophysicist, Ludacris, refuses to entertain. At one point John Cena drops in, and Charlize Theron is locked in a clear box where she can’t harm anyone because she has no wifi. Somehow it all makes sense
Aside from the obvious suspension of disbelief that’s required to enjoy the franchise, Fast 9 truly does not give a single thought to the science, or reality of what they have built. Our once hardened drag racer Dom is now such a great super spy he quite literally collapses the roof of a safehouse bunker by pulling at chains. One tug from this mighty man and *poof* no more bad guys.
Now with all this said, it’s fine. We’re treated to an absurdist reality somehow rooted in a twenty year old movie about drag racers who like to steal mid-priced electronics. But there has to be a line drawn somewhere, and I think it’s a little before the franchise propels characters into space. Yes, space. Not only does this make no logical sense in the grand scheme of the car-based thrill ride, but it does so in a way that is a true affront to science in general. The gang takes a two door Ford, “heat proofs” it, and propels it into space using a borrowed jet engine. But wait, it gets better. Said cosmonauts gear up for their expedition utilizing old scuba suits sealed up with duct tape, and a signature can of NOS for good measure. You know that old saying, when the going gets tough, the tough throw a jetpack on a car and use laughing gas to propel it through space.
If you have the time and a fistful of drugs to ingest, Fast 9 is a hilarious, if not incredibly long, thrill ride into the mind of a mad person. Take it for what it is, resistance is futile. Afterall, “the truth is really just an excuse for a lack of imagination,” and there is no lack of imaginary circumstances in sight.