‘F9’ adds John Cena, but ‘The Fast Saga’ feels like it’s stuck

The film has already made about $300 million outside of the United States, with much of that coming from China (despite Cena's public-relations issues with Taiwan during its promotion), confirming the franchise's prominence as a global money-making engine.

‘F9’ adds John Cena: The Fast Saga” is the ninth film in the franchise’s 20-year run, and its bloated mayhem serves as an invitation to return to — mindless enjoyment! Come share your knowledge with others! Even with the franchise’s wacky nature in mind, the current instalment pushes a little too hard to lift the ante, but it won’t stop Universal from releasing “F:X” (or some other equally brilliant title) as soon as feasible.

The inevitability of these films is that they must give the adrenaline rush that moviegoers crave while also adding a few new accessories to set them apart from past instalments. Plus, with two decades of skid marks and explosions behind them, there’s plenty of potential for throwbacks to previous escapades, even if it simply means Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron popping in for a check.

Interesting points of F9 movie

The great twist in ‘F9’ adds John Cena is that it delves into Dom Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) background, exposing an estranged brother, Jakob, who has clearly spent as much time in the gym as he has in the gym. John Cena plays him, and to say they have a sibling rivalry is an understatement, as they seek technology with world-threatening ramifications on opposing tracks. Those passages have an operatic aspect to them, as they stutter from “epic” to “self-parody.” Sure, these are strong guys who laugh at death (most of the time), but when the musical cues become melancholy and Dom begins waxing poetic about family, the “Fast Saga” can compete with the Hallmark Channel.

Of course, the rising chases and action sequences painstakingly created by director/co-writer Justin Lin, taking the wheel of his fourth “Fast & Furious” film, are the main attraction.

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To its credit, the film makes light of its own past, with Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) joking about their previous encounter with a submarine. The action then flies well above the waves instead of below them, giving that scene a run for its money in terms of sheer lunacy.

Movie revenue

The true fate of the “Furious” films appears to be one of diminishing returns at this point, with “F9’s” first major sequence — a breakneck chase and battle through jungle terrain — providing thrills with its sheer gravity-defying absurdity, an effect that fades with each subsequent series of stunts as Dom and company crisscross the globe.

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The film has already made about $300 million outside of the United States, with much of that coming from China (despite Cena’s public-relations issues with Taiwan during its promotion), confirming the franchise’s prominence as a global money-making engine. Nonetheless, as US audiences cautiously return to theaters, this type of made-for-Imax attraction is certainly hoped to create a huge spark.

As a result, “F9” goes above and above in its attempt to be worth the money and provide a social experience. This is one of those movies where missed lines don’t matter, because the only direction this vehicle moves is forward, even when it’s just spinning its wheels, after a year where people could pause and replay to catch missed dialogue.