F9: The Fast Saga Continues (Spoiler-Free)

The series that basically defines “sit back and enjoy the ride” is still going.

Do you remember how you saw the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie? It’s funny how much I feel it dates me because I didn’t see it until I rented it on DVD. Same with the second film and Tokyo Drift and, by that point, I was mostly burned out on the series. I didn’t even consider seeing the fourth movie in the theaters, which admittedly I regret, because that completely changed the franchise on almost every level. I skipped the fourth and fifth films until I decided to watch the sixth film, only to discover that the movies I missed were probably the best in the series. Since seeing those, I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed these movies more and more because I finally started to get into all of the spectacle of it. They show you crazy stuff that you just couldn’t see anywhere else and that’s one of the most beautiful parts of movies as a medium. Since then, every movie has had to one-up the previous level of insanity and, against all odds, has mostly succeeded. This movie is no exception.

Like flipping an armored convoy.

Two years after the events of The Fate of the Furious, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) are living a secluded life raising their son Brian. They’re approached by Roman, Tej, and Ramsey (Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel) about Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) capturing Cipher (Charlize Theron), Dom’s former blackmailer. However, the plane is attacked and taken down by none other than Jakob Toretto (John Cena), Dom’s never-before-mentioned brother. Dom needs to get the whole team together, including a still-alive Han Lue (Sung Kang) (It’s not a spoiler if it’s in the trailer) in order to stop his brother. 

I’m not sure we got Justice for Han, since Shaw WAS trying to kill him. Eh, maybe in Hobbes and Shaw 2.

In a franchise that uses the word “family” approximately 300 times a movie, it’s a bit of a tough sell that Dom Toretto has a brother that he has somehow neglected to mention, despite the fact that his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), is a recurring character. Naturally, the movie shows us a falling out between the two brothers to try and explain it, but it still feels a bit contrived. Then again, it’s Fast and the Furious, so you quickly move past it and enjoy the ride. The stunts in this movie, naturally, obey only the laws of Fast and the Furious Physics, which is to say no real physics whatsoever. You have to suspend levels of disbelief equal to most fairy tales, but the movie absolutely makes that worth it. Some of the fight sequences that cross over with the driving sequences are equal parts ridiculous and awesome. In a surprising twist that adds a level to the film, the movie actually has one of the characters realize how ridiculous the escalation of events have gotten and point out that they all should be dead by now. There’s not much of a conclusion to this revelation, so I’m hoping it continues through the tenth movie. 

Also, we need John Cena in some scenes with the Rock, people.

Overall, solid film if you liked the rest of the franchise.

Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw – The Comedy of Violence (Spoiler-Free)

The Fast and the Furious franchise gives us a spin-off focused on the odd-couple of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Shaw.


DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Actor Formerly Known as The Rock” Johnson) gets called in by his old “friend” Locke (Ryan Reynolds) to catch a virus-infected MI6 agent named Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby). However, Hattie is the sister of Hobbs’s former rival, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who also joins the hunt. The three are soon on the run from the forces of evil organization Eteon and Shaw’s former partner Brixton Lore (Idris Freaking Elba), a literal superhuman. 

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I’m amazed that this picture doesn’t explode from awesome.


Okay, so I’m gonna have to give a little disclosure here: I started off kind of cold towards the Fast and the Furious films. I didn’t really care for the first two and I didn’t watch the others until part 6 came out, only to find out that parts 4-6 are freaking awesome. They’re basically just loose plot threads built around awesome action set pieces of continually increasing ridiculousness and cast sizes. Physics is more of a suggestion in the world of Fast and the Furious now and the main characters are more immortal than John McClane, but it’s just so fun to watch them fight a tank or jump cars between skyscrapers. The name of the game is “just don’t think about it and enjoy the show.” 

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I love how often I can re-use this image.

This movie took it a step further.  While many of the previous films had hints of self-awareness, this one knows exactly what the audience is likely there to see and plays it up perfectly. Hobbs and Shaw is basically just a slapstick comedy film where some of the gags just happen to be giant explosions and car stunts. I notice, looking over Rotten Tomatoes, that many of the people who actually get paid to review films consider this a step down from the over-the-top action entries that the franchise has produced lately. I go in the exact opposite direction and praise the series for not just trying to make this the same as the main films. I admit it’s subjective, but I honestly liked this film as much as any of the other ones. Probably more. 

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Vanessa Kirby definitely helped.

At its core, I think this movie works for the same reason that I think the John Wick films work: The comic potential of violence. Humor is often derived from giving us an outlet for something that’s uncomfortable or repulsive by giving us a distance from the subject and subverting our expectations. A person getting shot in the face is horrifying. A coyote getting blown up by a rocket is hilarious. Some people say comedy = tragedy + time; I say comedy = horror + distance. Whereas John Wick plays out killing sequences with the same sense of timing as a Buster Keaton or a Jackie Chan film (even having Buster Keaton movies playing at the beginning of the second and third films to show respect), this movie is more akin to a Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon. The rivalry between them is hilarious, but when they work together to humiliate a mutual enemy, it’s even better. 

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If you can’t see them doing “Rabbit Season/Duck Season,” you aren’t trying.

The chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham isn’t exactly flawless, but it’s not supposed to be. They’re two very different kinds of action heroes that clash in exactly the way that their characters do: Hobbs is all the power, Shaw is all the technique. The movie plays that up as much as possible by literally presenting them side-by-side in split-screen during the opening. It’s a little cliche, but they really use it to set the tone for this film and I think it works. The odd-couple dialogue and petty pranks between them is amusing and manages to keep the mood light between the giant action set pieces. However, when they have another outlet, typically the villain, it’s even funnier, and usually happens in the middle of an action set-piece.

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Yes, the film 100% tries to play this straight. 

Idris Elba decided to bring his B+ game to this film, which is more than most actors would to a role where he unironically calls himself Black Superman. He’s so perfectly cliche that his first line in the movie is to say he’s the “Bad Guy.” It’s just so fun to watch as he does all of the things that even this franchise recognizes that normal humans can’t do, and looks amazing doing them. You can genuinely imagine that he’s someone who can easily overpower either Hobbs or Shaw, because he’s stronger than the former and his technique is better than the latter.

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He also is a special kind of crazy.

The action in the film is, even by this franchise’s standards, ridiculous. There’s a scene that I believe is exploding for a solid 7 minutes, just explosion after explosion and it’s freaking awesome.

Also, the theme is family and, while it’s a little more literal in this one than in the other Fast and the Furious movies, it still feels like it’s keeping an important part of the series.

Overall, I loved this movie. It’s dumb as hell, but it’s the right kind of dumb as hell. Also, I’m convinced Ryan Reynolds took this role just so he could make a joke about some of the stuff he does when he plays Deadpool again. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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