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F9 First Reviews: As Over-the-Top As Advertised, and Then Some

Early reviews say the latest chapter of the Fast Saga knows how absurd it is and plays it up for the fans, even if not all of the elements work as well as they should.

by | May 25, 2021 | Comments

Are the Fast & Furious movies critic-proof? Perhaps, but also: many critics love the Fast & Furious movies. And going by the first wave of reviews of the latest installment, F9, there are more critics in favor of the property’s further push into ludicrous speed, especially with franchise favorite Justin Lin returning to direct the sequel. There are a few disappointing elements even for the die-hards, though, including the addition of John Cena to the Fast & Furious family. But if you’re in the mood for more over-the-top action mixed with a silly, soapy scenario, you’ll be happy to take another ride with Vin Diesel and crew.

Here’s what critics are saying about F9:


How does F9 compare to the other Fast & Furious films?

Possibly the fastest and most furious yet.
– Germain Lussier, io9.com

F9 takes The Fast and the Furious to the next level.
– Fred Topel, Showbiz Cheat Sheet

This is, by FAR, the biggest, wildest, gravity-defying-iest Fast & Furious installment yet.
– David Ehrlich, IndieWire

F9 returns to the heights of Lin’s best Fast & Furious franchise films, combining big heart and bigger action while deepening its themes of family.
– Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

Even by the standards of a Fast & Furious movie, F9 crams a dizzying amount of stuff into its 149-minute run time, and it tears through them at such head-spinning velocity that the dizziness becomes part of the pleasure.
– Angie Han, Mashable

A return to form for the series. At least up there with 6 if not close to touching the bombastic grandeur of Five.
– Kyle Anderson, Nerdist

It’s far from a nadir for the brand, but sits comfortably in the bottom five when ranking the films.
Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

This latest installment suffers from the inevitable diminishing returns inherent when a franchise constantly tries to top itself.
– Tim Grierson, Screen International


Poster for F9

(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)

How does it feel to have Justin Lin back in the driver’s seat?

F9 sees Lin return after two movies away, and I have to say, it’s really good to have him back.
Kyle Anderson, Nerdist

After the empty soullessness of Fate of the Furious and the ribald nonsense of Hobbs and ShawF9 feels like Lin is pulling the franchise back on track.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

Once again, Lin gets the job done not by slamming on the brakes, but rather by speeding things up to such a ridiculous extreme that the velocity starts to hold everything in place.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Instantly you know this film is in the hands of people who get this world.
Germain Lussier, io9.com


How is the plot?

F9 further pushes The Fast Saga into the realm of unapologetic soap opera, complete with long-lost siblings and ridiculously convoluted resurrections.
Scott Mendelson, Forbes

It’s simply the vehicle (pun intended) that loosely ties the various action scenes together.
Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

I missed an exchange that explained a key plot point about what the main gizmo, that can destroy the world, even does and I didn’t care. It doesn’t matter.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

A good portion of the plot, scripted by Daniel Casey, feels cribbed from Furious 7 with some slight alterations… It’s rarely a good sign when a franchise needs to go the route of digging up mysterious/long-lost relatives as tired plot devices.
Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

Too much of what happens in F9 feels stuck in the past.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Lumbering along like a vehicle in need of a tune-up… with an A-to-B plot that’s as laughably lazy as it is simplistic.
Jordan Raup, The Film Stage

The jolly inventiveness of the action scenes only underlines how painfully corny the drama is by comparison.
Tim Grierson, Screen International


F9

(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)

What about the action?

The effects and stunt teams all deserve gold stars.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

A lot of the road stunts do look quite real, where I assume a lot of actual stunt work was done, as opposed to Dom fighting a CGI submarine.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

I appreciated a return to more primal car chases this time out after the over-the-top madness of Furious 6 (a tank!) and Furious 8 (a submarine!).
Scott Mendelson, Forbes

It’s pretty damn enjoyable to watch a car swing around on a cable off of a cliff.
Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

There’s a fair share of wit on display as well, in particular during a couple of set pieces which make giddy good use of high-powered magnets.
Tim Grierson, Screen International

One scene toward the end [is] guaranteed to make your jaw drop at the gloriously brain-dead chutzpah of it all.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

While the ideas in F9‘s big third-act action scene are bigger than any other Fast & Furious movie, the sequence itself doesn’t feel quite as epic as past films.
Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

The movie also has a lot of hand-to-hand combat — too much of it, I would say — that happens aboard speeding vehicles.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Comes across as borrowed, not only from past iterations but other action films as well, with two separate Christopher Nolan set pieces coming to mind.
Jordan Raup, The Film Stage


F9

(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)

Do they really go to space?

If seeing two wise-cracking dudes in bright yellow scuba suits rocketing into outer space in a Pontiac Fiero doesn’t sound the least bit appealing, then you’re probably not a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

It lives up to the hype and then some.
Germain Lussier, io9.com

Would you believe me if I said that aspect is one of the lesser ridiculous things to take place in this film?
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

Really, the less said about that, the better. Suffice it to say that the car jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper to skyscraper in Furious 7 was a lot more fun.
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

You might smile at the lunkheadedness of the whole enterprise — that is, if you’re feeling generous.
Joshua Rothkopf, Empire Magazine


Does F9 ever go too far over the top?

This is a movie that sling-shots so far past self-parody that it loops all the way back to something real.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

F9 reaches heights of absurdity that break through into the transcendent.
Angie Han, Mashable

The most ludicrous and unwieldy of the films so far. It transcends parody… I might go so far as to say F9 is a comedy.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

Perhaps what’s most fascinating is the deeper intelligence mixed into the ridiculousness.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

As long as these movies keep their earnest, fun, ’90s action movie tone, there is no ridiculous plot point these movies could come up with I wouldn’t believe.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

For a series with a main character who routinely urges his buddies to trust in math and physics because Numbers Don’t Lie, Fast really insults any viewer who feels the same way.
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter


Michelle Rodriguez in F9

(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)

Do the women get enough of the action?

The women do get some of the better moments in the movie. Rodriguez is still quite a badass after 20 years, and even Dom’s sister, played by Jordana Brewster, gets more into the action than we’ve ever seen before.
Edward Douglas, Below the Line

Watching Michelle Rodriguez drive over landmines faster than they can explode beneath her motorcycle feels like snorting nitrous straight from the tank after a year of being forced to pretend that movies are even remotely the same at home.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

There’s a positively delightful sequence that finally gets Helen Mirren’s Queenie Shaw in the driver’s seat of a chase scene.
Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

This is a movie about men and brothers and men and fathers and men and cars, and sisters can just jump to the back of the line, apparently.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap


How is the addition of John Cena to the franchise?

If there’s a piece that doesn’t fit, it’s Cena… As the brooding, bitter baby brother, he’s a glowering wet blanket, and no fun whatsoever.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

A disappointing use of John Cena, who has to put a lid on all of his charisma so that he can seem like a relative of Vin Diesel’s.
Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

The charm Cena showed in Blockers and Trainwreck does not blip on the radar here, lest it interfere with Diesel’s signature, leaden acting style.
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

The chemistry between Cena and Diesel is so non-existent that it’s almost impossible to buy into the central emotional (if that’s what you can call it) thrust of the movie.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm


Sung Kang in F9

(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)

What about the reappearance of Sung Kang’s Han?

Even in his brief scenes (Lin lovingly reintroduces the character in the coolest way possible), Kang reminds us of why Han was an instant fan-favorite — radiating charisma and likability.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

The script hardly does him justice (Sung Kang is still the coolest, and manages to survive the human plot device he’s forced to bring with him).
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

While Sung Kang makes the most of his limited time onscreen (my audience cheered practically every time he appeared), it’s hard not to expect more after all this time.
Angie Han, Mashable

Bringing Han back to life works as pure fan service, but it also undercuts the emotional impact of his passing.
Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

Sad to say but if all of Han’s story was cut, F9 would probably have been a more compact, tighter, faster-paced movie.
Germain Lussier, io9.com


Is there a lot of fan service?

It has moments fans have always wanted to see, moments we never thought we’d see, action to spare, and dives deeper emotionally than any other installment.
Germain Lussier, io9.com

A lot of the movie feels crowdsourced, and that’s fine in a way. Give the fans what they want, and they’re the ones who demanded Letty be alive.
Fred Topel, Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Some of this fan service ends up feeling forced, as does one action sequence that satisfies a desire many Fast And Furious aficionados have long harbored about where the sequels might go.
Tim Grierson, Screen International


F9

(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)

Does the franchise seem to be on the right path?

There’s still plenty of gas in the tank of this franchise.
Germain Lussier, io9.com

There’s assuredly plenty of gas left in the tank.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

For the first time in a long time it feels like it’s drifting in the right direction.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Fast & Furious 9 feels like a rejuvenation.
Joshua Rothkopf, Empire Magazine

As fast and furious as F9 races along, it can’t quite outrun the impression that these films are losing some of their freshness.
Tim Grierson, Screen International

The series no longer has any dramatic stakes and no longer even pretends to adhere to the consequences of its onscreen stories.
Scott Mendelson, Forbes

This humdrum antepenultimate adventure leaves one convinced those steering the series don’t have a firm grasp on where it’s heading.
Jordan Raup, The Film Stage

I’m not 100% sure that even the most diehard fans will want much more of the Fast Saga with everything thrown at them in this one.
Edward Douglas, Below the Line

Fast and Furious is clearly running on fumes and in desperate need of a pit stop, if not a full overhaul.
James Marsh, South China Morning Post


F9 releases in theaters on June 25, 2021.

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