As many movie fans will know, the Fast and Furious franchise has blossomed from a low budget film about cops and robbers, into a blockbusting series of films.
With each iteration, the laws of physics and plausibility are stretched further from reality and latterly have largely been jettisoned altogether. Clearly, a thought provoking careful examination of a serious subject is not the intention here.
With “Fast and Furious 9” due out shortly, the movie bean counters have managed to squeeze in a spin off movie featuring two of the most popular recent characters.
The film pitches the differing work style of secret agents “Hobbs” (Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock”) and “Shaw” (Jason Statham) who dispense justice as they see fit, subscribing to the “ends justifies the means” method of interrogation techniques.
With differing character traits neatly set out in the opening sequence, we are thrown headlong into an MI6 mission to recover a deadly cargo, led by “Hattie” (Vanessa Kirby). When the team encounter cyber enhanced “Brixton” (Idris Elba), the plan falls apart leaving Hattie holding the very item Brixton is searching for.
Clearly the world needs saving again, fortunately two super agents are available at short notice with one tiny flaw, they do not play well with others. Adding various family complications into the mix makes for a heady brew, which could be solved through extensive therapy sessions or in this case, vehicular mayhem and fistfights.
This interpersonal rivalry gives both actors a chance to bicker and insult each other, whilst dealing with disposable henchman and wise cracking their way through PG level violence.
The Fast and Furious series is really a flimsy excuse to create set piece action sequences and this film is no exception. If lassoing a helicopter by weighting it down with three trucks offends your sense of disbelief, you may have wandered into the wrong film.
Statham and Johnson are as detailed on the tin, no attempt here to extend their range but they display the usual physical dexterity and are clearly having fun. With the testosterone levels off the scale, Kirby manages to sneak in an engaging performance whilst the boys are off bickering and manages to establish a real character in her own right.
Director David Leitch keeps the tone relatively light, the violence is at a cartoon level and whilst some jokes fall flat, overall the tone hits the spot for this type of movie. We also get to enjoy cameos from A list stars, with a post credit sequence adding more offbeat humour.
Interestingly the writers have contrived to set the final sequence in Samoa (albeit really Hawaii), with the screenplay managing to create a final stand off not normally seen in a major Hollywood movie.
The very definition of a guilty pleasure, a car based action film finely tuned to fill two hours of your time, just perfect for when your brain needs a rest from the daily routine.
Recommended for the right target audience
I wasn’t too crazy about this film. I watched because tradition dictates that to call yourself a Fast & Furious fan you have to have watched them all. Also, people promised me it was good. They lied.