This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Phil The Pill’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The function of Fast 9 is to bridge the gap from the super-spy genre that VI, VII, and VIII had established into straight-up superheroics. And it does this fairly convincingly. To boot, it throws in an artistic prequel movie about young Dom Toretto and his first major run-in with the justice system.
There's still a lot of shagginess on the movie. As much as I really like Sung Kang's performance and think they had every reason to bring him back, the retcon is pretty egregiously hand wavey and there's no thematic heft to his return, since Jason Statham was benched for this one. If they were going to make Cypher the ultimate baddie anyway, I'm not sure why we detoured with the snobby rich weasel, unless it was to make some sort of unusually subtle point about the global ruling class. The Edinburgh and Tbilisi sequences started to feel like echoes of each other with the reliance on the magnets, so it felt like some trimming could have happened in each stretch.
Some time in my life, hopefully in the near future, I'll have a glorious rewatch of this phase of the F&F universe and see things more clearly. As of now, the delightful recklessness of this installment doesn't raise it to the level of its best entry: Fast Five. The fifth movie had that perfect blend of grit and absurdity, with a foot in each aesthetic. Ever since then, the franchise has been careening. Entertaining results and a great commitment to that ongoing soap opera flair, but alas, I don't feel like I ascended to the level of that Pontiac Guy Fieri.