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F9 (2021)
Not all blood is family.
Filmmaker(s): Justin Lin

Dominic Toretto and his crew battle the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they've ever encountered: his forsaken brother.

F9 (2021)

Blended Family, Family Secrets

I can say that I witnessed an appreciative audience as my ten and eleven year old whooped and hollered at the stunts, oblivious to the surrounding machinery. For them, and I suppose many viewers, the movie other than the action sequences is there only to support those segments. So the less stuff to get in the way, the better.

But though this is put together as a lowbrow movie, I cannot escape its existence as a film, and my reflex to try to actually understand what is going on.

The bad guy part is a bit convoluted. The head of the good guy secret unit has transported half of the most dangerous item on the planet on an ordinary plane. Somehow he has vanished, his captive — herself boss of a secret organisation — is now lost, the plane has crashed, the item remains aboard, and he has been able to get a message to his loyal crew.

The completely unrelated Central American authorities shoot on sight from military vehicles at the crash site. Soon we discover that a private enterprise is after this weapon and have one half. Instead of being destroyed, it was divided to ‘keep it from ever being used’. It has the magical ability to control every device (‘of every kind’) on the planet.

In plot time, things move fast, and the bad guys get the other half and the ‘key’ — a girl who only has to hold it. Soon, the woman captive takes over the gang at the same time as other double crosses and the plot is required to be defeated simultaneously in space and on the streets.

Even with my research on the nexternet to understand the many institutions in this cosmology, it eludes me. Perhaps my background in real world organisations gets in the way.

A comically overwrought magnetic device is used to make the chase scenes not seem as ordinary as they are.

But it is the family cosmology that mattered to me. Many of these mass movie worlds revolve around dysfunctional family issues. Perhaps it is the only universal set of triggers, more fundamental than film romance. This franchise has more than embraced the tropes, it is the leading innovator. The only thing missing is incest, but otherwise there seems to be any crazy fold you can imagine.

Unknown relatives appear. The dead reappear. Brothers, fathers. Reconciliation under fire after decades of hate acknowledged by a nod. Never a tear. Always, things end with a tub of beer in a picnic of extended family where all tensions are resolved.

The chases, the warring fabulated groups, and the cartoonish emotions all poke in eye, different eyes. You know, Vin Diesel isn’t as dumb as his name and this franchise would indicate. He’s the guy behind the relatively intelligent ‘Riddick’ franchise.

Posted in 2023

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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