REVIEW: F9: The Fast Saga
Since 2001, long before Tony Stark got shelled, a kinetic shared universe was quietly taking shape and across the last two decades, the Fast & Furious franchise has become a homegrown phenomenon. This testosterone- and diesel-fueled series has become increasingly popular worldwide but has grown like kudzu, uncontrolled and able to entangle all who come near.
The series has suffered from the lack of a blueprint despite the obvious need to tend to the growing roster of characters and interrelationships. As a result, the series feels as chaotic as its stunts, as characters come and go, relationships merge and evolve, and all are in service to a complicated series of stunts with a thread of plot to tie them together.
Needing to top what came before, each film has grown in challenging stunts that rock your understanding of physics. Whereas the bar is raised by Tom Cruise in each Mission: Impossible film, you never shake your head in disbelief. Instead, it’s wonder.
F9: The Fast Saga opens with a signature stunt but one that tells you right from the start that reality is something to wave at in passing. This is not a film for newcomers as it is entirely dependent on what came before. What the film, written by director Justin Lin and Daniel Casey, does nicely is let the characters age and have lives between films.
But old grudges die hard and once again, the fate of the world is at stake thanks to Ares, a device that can access any computer system in the world, this film’s MacGuffin.
All your familiar faces are back along with cameos from others from throughout the preceding films including one specific surprise appearance. We even get flashbacks allowing us to see key players at earlier stages of their lives.
It’s frantic and frenetic, the stakes ever higher, and the jokes just as lame as before. The stunts make the films worth watching with its core stars—Vin Diesel, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez—having fun despite how tired some of the material has come to feel. It should be noted that the regulars made room for new faces including Michael Rooker, MMA Fighter Francis Ngannou, Ozuna and Cardi B. Even the creators know it’s time to make a final pit stop with the franchise ending after the next two films.
Universal Home Entertainment has released the movie on a variety of formats including the now-standard 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD code combo. The 1080p transfer is very sharp, nicely capturing the colors and shadows. For a movie built on sound, the Dolby Atmos audio tracks are superb. The 4k Ultra HD 2160p is just that much sharper.
For fans of the series, the extras certainly deliver some fine entertainment including both the Theatrical (2:22:52) and Director’s (2:29:55) cuts. The extra six minutes is more mayhem. Additionally, there is the requisite Gag Reel (3:34); F9: All In, a nine-part behind-the-scenes piece, The Family Returns (3:19), New Breed of Bad Guy (6:12), Building the Land Mine Chase (5:42), A Woman’s Touch (5:10), Vin, Helen, and the Queen (6:07), Growing the Family (4:27):, Controlled Chaos (9:10), Tokyo Drift Reunited (2:48), Raising the Bar (3:22), Practically Fast (7:52), Shifting Priorities (3:59), Justice for Han (3:37), A Day on the Set with Justin Lin (10:00), and John Cena: Supercar Superfan (4:36). The disc is rounded out with Audio Commentary from Justin Lin.