I know I’m supposed to suspend disbelief when I go to the movies, allowing that things which might not happen in real life occur on the silver screen.
It’s part of an unwritten compact between the viewer and filmmaker.
With each entry, the makers of the Fast and Furious films have brazenly stretched this agreement to the breaking point with their willingness to ignore the basic principles of psychics and gravity, the result being record-setting box office numbers.
However, with “F9,” Justin Lin and his crew take things to new extremes with insulting plot twists and stunts.
One of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen, this latest chapter throws all logic out the window as it tries to top the franchise’s already ridiculous extremes.
The threadbare plot is the sort of thing a 12-year-old boy would concoct. Amateurish and simplistic, that such a script was filmed tells you just how important the story is.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around the pursuit of a high-tech whatsis that’s been separated into two parts, one recovered by Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew in South America, the other under extreme lock and key in England.
When put together, they become a device that, once launched into orbit, can control the entire internet.
Needless to say, there are many parties interested in this MacGuffin, including Jakob (John Cena), a rogue agent who happens to be, wait for it, Dom’s estranged brother!
As Dom; his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez); his sisterl Mia (Jordana Brewster); and their friendsl Roman (Tyreese Gibson), Taj (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), trot about the globe to stop this technological Armageddon, the franchise’s trademark set pieces of destruction and mayhem take center stage.
I’ll give Universal Pictures credit for one thing — every single cent of their $200 million-plus budget is on the screen.
Whether cars, trucks and buildings are actually being destroyed or via CGI — a method these films are relying more and more on — no expense is spared.
Unfortunately, the movie’s lack of intelligence is proportionate to its budget.
The things the film’s vehicles do defy all physical reason, the stunts pushed far past the point of wonder into incredulity.
Equally insulting are the plot twists and motivations of the characters. A sequence in which Dom has a near-death experience allows him to recall memories he could never have had, so he can draw conclusions about his brother he never could have reached.
Such an example of screenwriting expediency I’ve never seen. And if someone can tell me just what Cipher (a slumming Charlize Theron) has to do with any of this, I’d appreciate it.
(Full disclosure: I did not go back and watch the previous three entries to prepare for “F9.” Obviously, my film critic credentials should be revoked.)
The film flirts with a bit of post-modernism when Roman wonders aloud why none of them ever get hurt despite their many brushes with death, but this idea is never developed.
No, instead, it ponies out a third-act surprise that, if I told you what it was, you wouldn’t believe it.
The movie’s biggest problem is that it takes itself so seriously.
Unlike the much more entertaining spin-off “Hobbs and Shaw,” which had its tongue firmly planted in cheek, “F9” follows its stars’ lead and is rendered with a seriousness befitting a Shakespearean drama.
The ironic distance between tone and material is striking and unintentionally hilarious.
Only for the brain dead, this film will surely make a billion dollars, making another trip into this vacuous movie universe a regrettable inevitability.