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F9 review round-up: “often dull, always bloated”

Early reactions suggest delayed sequel wasn’t worth the wait.
F9 review round-up: “often dull, always bloated”
While the new Fast & Furious movie – called F9 in some territories, and Fast & Furious 9 in others – doesn’t hit American screens until June and UK cinemas until July, the film is being released in some markets tomorrow. Meaning a handful of outlets have gone early with their reviews. And the reactions aren’t great, with three websites suggesting that the oft-delayed sequel wasn’t worth the wait.

IndieWire delivers the most positive review, the headline proclaiming that co-writer and director Justin Lin “gets Fast & Furious back on track with the saga’s biggest and most ridiculous movie yet.”

But then the reviewer gives the film a grade of just C+, and bemoans the over-reliance on computer-generated effects, stating: “It isn’t always pretty. The first one of these things without [writer Chris] Morgan’s name on it since 2002, F9 is a scattered mess full of weightless CGI that whiffs on some of the most crucial moments in franchise history and doesn’t even get out of neutral until the final hour; for all of the cartoonish flair demanded by Lin’s “shoot the moon” strategy, this $200 million tentpole is bound to disappoint anyone hoping for an action movie that can match the skill of Fast Five or the unleaded personality of Tokyo Drift, even if watching Michelle Rodriguez drive over landmines faster than they can explode beneath her motorcycle feels like snorting NOS straight from the tank after a year of being forced to pretend that movies are even remotely the same at home.”

Fast and Furious 9
(Picture: Universal Pictures)

Variety also thinks that the over-the-top action means the audience will be laughing at rather than with the movie, using one of the big set-pieces as an example: “Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), who’ve been quibbling all through the movie, are behind the wheel of a red Pontiac Fiero that’s been outfitted with a rocket launcher. The car is hitched to the back of a space shuttle, which is preparing to send them into orbit. As they fumble around with makeshift yellow space helmets that look like they belong on a pair of 1960s aquanauts (all that’s missing is the rear-projection fakery), the sequence turns into pure cheeseball comedy. Roman, with his you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me skepticism, and Tej, with his numbers-based quizzicality, are a funny duo, and that’s fine, but as the two head into space, with weightless candy wrapper flying around the car, all to accomplish a mission that doesn’t strike us as either plausible or necessary, the scene inspires the wrong kind of funny.”

Finally, The Hollywood Reporter thinks there’s too much going on, writing: “This probably sounds like more fun that it is. As in Lin’s last feature, the disappointing Star Trek Beyond, the director/co-writer takes a quantity-over-quality approach, throwing more action, sub-plots and characters into the mix than any movie needs while still leaving one with the sense that something’s missing. The maximalist strategy makes even less sense considering the simple idea at this episode’s heart: Dom has a brother his pals don’t know about; a tragedy in their youth separated them; and now he’s a bad guy.”

The outlet adds: “Is it too far-fetched to hope that the Fast & Furious movies could go back to being about hot cars, burning rubber and the bonding that occurs somewhere around the intersection of cops and robbers? This is a series that began with a crew of not-so-bad crooks stealing shipments of DVD players; now, in Justin Lin’s F9, they’re literally shooting cars into space. Unless FastTen involves time travel, it’s hard to see how this franchise could top itself, and based on the often dull, always bloated results here, it seems foolish to try.”

F9/Fast & Furious 9 is released in Russia and Hong Kong on 19th May.