The first reactions and reviews to Fast & Furious 9 have now started to emerge. Directed by Justin Lin, F9 was originally scheduled for worldwide release in April 2020, but was pushed back multiple times amid the ongoing global situation. So, after so many delays and setbacks, was the ninth installment in the hugely popular action franchise worth the wait?
Unlike the driving skills of the main characters, IndieWire's David Ehrlich found the movie to be completely out of control, and all the better for it, with F9 finally taking the series into the right direction after so many leaps in credibility and motivation.
"No, what matters is that F9 continues to make the saga feel bigger while bringing it home. The world of F&F has never felt more outta control than it does here, but for the first time in a long time it feels like it's drifting in the right direction."
Screen Daily's Tim Grierson equally found the over-the-top nature of F9 to be intoxicating, and the movie as a whole delivering as the ludicrous escapism many will be craving.
"Gloriously ludicrous and stridently melodramatic, F9 is fuelled by its own goofy energy, delivering comically grandiose chase sequences and shameless fan service all in the name of giving audiences an uncomplicated good time."
These sentiments were echoed by The Wrap's Alonso Duralde, who also found the movie to be a hugely enjoyable experience, provided you turn your brain off and just allow the stunts and vehicular mayhem to fill your eyeballs and tickle your adrenal gland.
"These films demand that you just roll with the cockamamie plots, and in return, Justin Lin (the best of the F&F directors, back at the helm for the first time since #6) will craft a breathtaking melee of automotive destruction that plays like Wile E. Coyote and M.C. Escher competing in the Cannonball Run. (Lin and Daniel Casey share screenwriting credit.)"
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter sadly was far from enamoured by the continuing adventures of Dom and his beloved family, finding the movie to be lacking in solid thrills and relying too much on absurdity. And not even in a good way.
"At their best, these later, save-the-world Fast flicks allowed viewers to thrill to stunts even as they guffawed at their absurdity. But in F9's would-be showstoppers, the thrills are mostly AWOL or the feats are simply too idiotic to embrace, even guiltily."
Owen Gleiberman of Variety also found some faults with F9, and while he did enjoy the gruff, macho battle between brothers Dom and Jakob, he found the development of these elements to be a little thin on the ground.
"Sometimes, when you least expect it, a successful franchise will essentially morph into a different series. Over time, the Mission: Impossible films became Bond films. The Fast and Furious films have become Mission: Impossible films. But F9 isn't constructed around an exciting mission. It's built around Vin Diesel and John Cena playing out the angst from the Toretto brothers' past. The family plot 'works' (even as you're aware of how thinly written Cena's character is), but it's not enough of an anchor; it's more like an excuse."
Rotten Tomatoes' Joel Meares though loved the movie saying that it had him "smiling like a straight man at a sportball gathering," before adding that "It's all wink wink, nudge nudge, vroom vroom and I loved. The over-the-top set pieces you want + some old-school F1-2 vibes."
Finally, critic Courtney Howard found F9 to be "Bombastic, brazen, bold" that had her "giggling at the sheer audacity of a few of the big set pieces" even hours afterwards.
F9 stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, and Charlize Theron, and picks up with Dominic Toretto and his family who must now face Dom's younger brother Jakob, a deadly assassin, who holds a personal vendetta against him. F9 is set to be released in some regions on 19 May, and in the United States on June 25, 2021.