As we came out I said (tongue-in-cheek) “And the award for most realistic film goes to…”. Could be argued though that cartoon realism’s built up to this point where Tyrese Gibson questions whether they have invincibility? They even survived a submarine incident, without scars.
After multiple dialogue lines about this ensemble being “family” that’s served many a drinking game, now the protagonist Dominic Toretto (played with conviction if a slight gravellyness by Vin Diesel that makes you wonder if he could voice Batman?) has a long-lost enemy brother (Jakob – played by John Cena) to fight. Additionally, I read that Michelle Rodriguez who plays Letty threatened to walk away unless the female characters were better written by now. So although the series’ OTT melodrama still sadly results in them feeling a little underserved, at least this time they’re more heavily involved in the action (Rodriguez never fails to indulge in an inner badass after all). This extends to a point of Jordana Brewster sweetly returning as the sister – Mia Toretto – partnering with Rodriguez at multiple points. Everyone mostly serves the “family” in their own right then.
Apart from noting the female characters still being somewhat sidelined, despite having an extended participation in the movie, my chief complaint’s that at 2+hours F9 can stretch patience. Indeed, with a bit of retconning going on, you may wonder how much the melodrama could just be an excuse to be a little silly?
In any case, there’s some brilliant set-pieces, the 3rd act being proof. I mean, Roman alongside Tej (Ludacris as the latter) drive a car into space for goodness sake, and yet you smile. Tom Cruise has nothing on this.
Overall I probably can’t complain too much then. F9 can feel a little too indulgent for its own good, but so has many a historical epic to be fair. Make sure you watch this at a cinema, especially on an IMAX screen if you can!