It’s all about faaaaaaamily, 3.5 readers.
BQB here with a review of the ninth installment of this long-running gearhead fest.
Alright, I’m just going to say it. I was disappointed. I didn’t want to be, but I was. For the past decade, seeing that a Fast and Furious movie was out was like having a three day old piece of pizza in the fridge. I know it’s there. I know I shouldn’t eat it. I know I’m going to be sick later but during the moment of consumption, it’s going to be oh, so enjoyable.
Long standing franchises are, in a way, like old fridge pizza. They’re not the best choice, but you know what you’re getting. Just like that pizza will have nice, cold sauce and perfectly congealed cheese, so too will Star Wars always have awesome lightsaber duels and James Bond will always ask for his martinis to be shaken, not stirred. It’s all mostly sub-par, but dependable, and occasionally, a masterpiece happens once every five years or so – just like Fast and Furious’ Fast Five (see the scene where Dom and Brian drive a bank safe down a Brazillian highway via cords attached to Dodge Chargers for more) or Star Wars’ Empire Strikes Back (see the whole thing for more) or James Bond’s Skyfall (again, see the whole thing for more) or that run of pizza pies in 2017 when Vinny’s Pizza hired a pizza chef from Italy and he made some fantastic pies before he left and started his own restaurant.
But I digress.
Here’s what I have come to expect from “The Fast Saga.” These are the three reasons I have, time and time again, plunked my cash down on the ticket counter:
#1 – Scantily clad women. (Yes, I said it. I don’t know how we all became puritans all of a sudden but yes, men like to watch movies in which hotties with little to nothing on shake their moneymakers. Shocking, I know.)
#2 – Bald, testosterone addled musclebound bodybuilders beating the crap out of each other. (It reminds men of their cavemen days when they would lift rocks all day so as to grow their muscles large and then they would challenge each other to fisticuffs in order to impress the hairy cave women.)
#3 – Insane, borderline comical car stunts. (There was an Onion video years ago where a newsman says he’s going to interview the screenwriter of the Fast and Furious franchise. Cut to a little boy smashing his toy cars together saying stuff like, “And then Dom is gonna drive his car really fast and jump over a train and then Brian is gonna jump his car over a helicopter and…” Yes, that’s pretty much the writing process.
So, why am I disappointed?
In this outing, I only got #3. Getting all three makes these movies great and sometimes two out of three ain’t bad, but three is all you get here. You might argue we get 2 because Vin Diesel is in it and he’s as big and bald as ever but it’s never been more obvious than it was in this installment that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham have been carrying these films on the shoulders just below their big, bald heads.
Seriously, that’s what this movie was lacking. It needed Hobbs. It needed Shaw. Obviously, as the proprietor of a blog that is only read by 3.5 readers, I was not privy to the creative process of this film and/or why The Rock and J-Stath took a powder in this go-around, but I can only assume it’s because Universal blew their bald, muscular action star budget on 2019’s Fast and Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw, which, though a fun flick, might have been penny wise and pound foolish, for they really need to be present in “the saga” itself for it to continue.
And sure, this film tries to pull out all the cameo stops. Various appearances from this person and that person where you squint and say, “Oh yeah, I think they were in that FF movie from like, seven years ago. Wow, that’s some fabulous continuity!” but none of it compares to our favorite chrome domed warriors.
Sure, John Cena is in it. He’s big. He’s muscular. He’s not bald though. For a true action flick, the stars must be bald, because then you realize that this dude is so big and bad that even his hair ran away screaming in terror one night and with a full head of hair, you know Cena isn’t that tough if his hair isn’t afraid of him.
All kidding aside though, I was excited to see that Cena was joining the cast, but I don’t think they gave him enough to do. He has carried films before (See 2006’s The Marine and the grossly unrecognized 12 Rounds (2009) for more.) If he’s to return in future FF’s, I hope they let him off the proverbial chain.
BTW he stars as Dom’s long-lost, totes estranged brother, who became super evil over a brotherly spat. In any other film series, introducing a here-to-fore never discussed brother who has been committing acts of super-villainy for years but has never been discussed would be considered a gaping plot hole, but this series, to its credit, is self-aware and slaps its holes shut with a wink and some silly putty.
Alright, so it fails on #2.
Does it succeed on #3? Of course. There are some truly insane, awesome car chases. Part of me wants to say there isn’t anything as awesome as, say, Cypher’s taking control of all the cars in the city and hurling them at Dom like a kid who just dumped out a tub full of Matchbox cars (ala The Fate of the Furious) or Fast Five’s bank vault down the highway scene, but there are still some pretty intense scenes. I suppose I shouldn’t give it away (SPOILER WARNING) so I’ll just say that electromagnets, a Tarzan-like swing (from a cable…across a ravine…in a damn car…crap I said I wouldn’t say it but I did, oh well just pretend I didn’t) and space are all involved.
But I must say, the movie fails, utterly, fails when it comes to #1. There are no scantily clad females to be seen at any point in this film’s much too long 143 minute run time. I mean, seriously, you can get me to sit down for car chases, but if you want to keep me glued for two and a half hours, there needs to be some hot babes in various states of undress.
Just as we can always count on James Bond to ask for his martini to be shaken and not stirred, so too can we always count on a FF movie to have at least one drag race scene where a voluptuous vixen in skimpy attire drops the flag, a signal to the gearheads that it’s time to step on the gas.
A mere 4 years ago, 2017’s Fate of the Furious gave us a scene in Cuba where a hot babe with a dress so short and revealing that I honestly wondered if maybe there was a wardrobe malfunction where maybe she left the skirt in the dryer too long and it shrunk and no one from the wardrobe department noticed. You caught glimpse of partial cheeks and everything and I’m just saying that as a movie buff and not as a lonely man who ran that scene back a hundred times.
Flash forward to today and naturally, there was a drag race scene, but the flag dropper just wore a pair of jeans. Like, not even revealing jeans. Like, Costco dungarees two sizes too big. She didn’t give a rousing speech or anything. It was just like, “Eh, this is my job. I’m the flag dropper. Here, flag dropped. Done.”
“But BQB” you might say. FF has a number of recurring, hot female characters. Surely…”
No. Charlize Theron reprises her role as the villain Cypher, but she’s barely in it. She’s in a glass cage in most of her parts, kind of suggestive of Charlize maybe saying, “Yeah, I’ll be in this stinker if I can show up for a day, two days tops and do all my lines in a glass cage and then I’m out.”
But just in case you were worried you might be aroused, they gave her a Moe Howard style bowl cut. I don’t have time in this post to rant about the growing trend where Hollywood seems to feel like the only way that female characters can be empowered with strength is to dude them up (see Teela in the He-Man sequel cartoon for more.)
Look, I’m not saying that’s what they were going for here because again, I wasn’t privy to the decision making process. All I’m saying is they took one of the most beautiful female movie stars today and made her look like a grumpy 1930s male comedian. That’s all I’m saying.
Oh, I almost forgot, there is a Cardi B cameo.
“Oh thank God, BQB, the movie is saved!” you might say. “Cardi is known for her popular music videos where she shows off her impressive, bouncy derriere. Surely, she…”
Yeah, she and a group of super hot chicks save Dom whilst clad head to toe in SWAT team body armor. Oh, sorry, I should have announced a spoiler. SPOILER ALERT – Dom gets saved from the baddies by being arrested by a SWAT team, only for the big reveal later to be that the SWAT team removes their helmets to show they are a team of hot chicks led by Cardi B. (Being 5 feet tall didn’t give it away.)
So, anyway, if a lady rapper known for showing off her hiney having said hiney covered by kevlar is your thing, then by all means, turn this movie on and knock yourself out.
Look, I get it. We are in the #MeToo era. It was a long time coming. Some very bad men in the entertainment industry got the comeuppance they so richly deserved. All I’m saying is, it seems unjust that average chumps like me who, let’s face it, the closest we’ll ever come to a hot babe is seeing them in the movies, have to suffer because of the terrible acts of evil men.
I mean…seriously. Harvey Weinstein is an uber sleezy pervert for thirty years, and literally all of Hollywood covers for him for thirty years…and rather than just punish him and his ilk…I have to be denied my one every 4 year chance to oggle hot bikini babes in an FF movie.
STRIKE #1 – They can’t afford big time action stars like The Rock and Statham anymore, and frankly, I don’t really see a lot of action star talent coming out of the millenial generation. Unless the next film involves an avocado toast heist, this franchise might, itself, become toast.
STRIKE #2 – No more hotties in skimpy outfits because Harvey Weinstein was a pervert. I mean, look, I’m no Hollywood expert, but there probably are women who would very much like to show off their hot bods on film, so like, Hollywood, if you could get all the necessary lawyers together in a room and hash out all the various and sundry consent forms to make sure these women really do want to appear on film in various states of undress, maybe even hire a bona fide fortune teller who can predict whether the women won’t regret it later and then like, once the consent decrees are signed in triplicate and the fortune teller or the Minority Report style pre-cog guarantees that the woman won’t regret it in the future and alright….I can see how getting a woman naked for the big screen has now officially become more complicated than launching a nuclear missile so…yeah, fine…just put the drag race flag wavers in jeans from now on…maybe a nice turtle neck…goose down parka. You know what? All women in this franchise should just appear under piles of 50 blankets or more. Thanks Harvey. Thanks a lot. A-hole.
WHAT SAVES IT – The insane car stunts, though I fear it’s only a matter of time before those are taken away too. Someone will complain that all this driving at high octane speeds is bad for the environment, so the next film will probably be Dom drag racing a Prius. The flag dropper will be Sister Mary Elizabeth from Our Lady of the Perpetual Iron Underwear. She’ll come out in full habit, drop the flag, and then Dom will floor his environmentally conscious ride all the way to the Quinoa stand.
STATUS – Moderately shelf-worthy, but on life support. You’ll be entertained and it’s worth a watch, but it’s not what it used to be. You know, it’s funny, when I saw the ads where it showed Cena vs. Vin, I thought “Wow, they’re kicking it up a notch” but then after a half hour in I was like, “Wait…no Rock? No Statham.” I don’t know why I thought they’d be in this one. I guess you just come to expect it but I realized “Oh yeah, they weren’t in the ads. Crap.”
So, you know, times, they are a changing and I suppose movies are made for the young, though I admit I have never seen a generation in so much of a hurry to be old. Maybe they can reboot the franchise with a new cast, perhaps one where Dom has a fedora and glasses and urges his Uber driver to drive at a brisker pace so he can be the first in line at the soy latte stand. The Uber drag race can be kicked off by a hot babe wearing a cardboard box.