The hype machine for F9 — the ninth installment in the enduringly beloved Fast & the Furious Saga — has been chugging along for more nearly two years. We’re still more than a month away from the day when we can collectively crack open Coronas and witness Vin Diesel grumbling about family while driving a (*checks notes) magnet car, but today saw the arrival of early reviews for the film, and things are looking appropriately ridiculous.
Whether said ridiculousness is a cause for celebration or groans is a matter of personal taste. But the series —in transitioning from B-tier Point Break ripoff to globetrotting spy thriller — has undeniably united the masses in the universal love of watching cars get mangled in increasingly physics-defying ways. It’s the movie series beloved by drunk uncles and Dame Helen Mirren alike, and few things have this much power to bring us together.
The ninth film — which sees Diesel’s Dom confronted by long-lost brother John Cena and Charlize Theron’s bowl-cutted super hacker (or something) — comes with impossible hype as theaters reopen. Will returning character Han — long ago presumed dead — finally receive the justice fans crave? How to magnet cars even work? And will the Fam finally go to space?
Early reviews — some of which contain minor spoilers (which have themselves already been spoiled by the trailers) — point to an expectedly mixed bag full of the kind of thrills you expect from a series that previously saw Paul Walker drive off the Burj Khalifa and The Rock throw a missile at a nuclear sub.
LA-based critic Courtney Howard said the Family’s most recent outing provides a solid dose of “car crunching mayhem,” with star Tyrese Gibson emerging as the MVP.
Mike Reyes of CinemaBlend called it “pure bonkers adrenaline,” but also noted that the film answers some of the many, many, many outstanding questions from previous entries. Even more surprisingly, he praised the film’s depth… something the franchise isn’t exactly known for.
Nerdist’s Lee Travis echoes the praise while offering up an answer to a question we’ve all prayed will be answered in the affirmative: Dame Helen Mirren finally drives.
Joel Meares of Rotten Tomatoes enjoyed the mix of old-school vibes with over-the-top madness, but suggested that the film’s treatment of Han's return could result in a mixed reaction.
The film found a detractor in John Defore, whose feature-length review for The Hollywood Reporter longed for a return to the days when the films were about fast cars instead of saving the world, saying “… in F9’s would-be showstoppers, the thrills are mostly AWOL or the feats are simply too idiotic to embrace, even guiltily.”
Variety’s Owen Gliberman, meanwhile, says that the film’s ridiculousness finally nears the dreaded “jumping the shark” territory in his full review.
As for whether the film finally makes good on fan demands that the franchise finally leaves the Earth for space, Rotten Tomatoes’ Erik Davis has some news sure to irk the spoiler averse.
Will F9 manage to blow audiences minds? We'll know when the film is released June 25.