F9: THE FAST SAGA – Review by Susan Granger

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Originally released 20 years ago as a supercharged B-movie about street racing, starring Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, the gritty Fast and Furious franchise has continued to flourish – “a quarter mile at a time,” as Dominic Toretto would say.

Now, humorless, world-weary Dominic (Vin Diesel) must face his embittered, long-estranged – but never-before-mentioned – younger brother Jakob (John Cena), who is determined to get his hands on a small geodesic dome known as “the device” which would allow whomever owns it to control the world’s most advanced weapons systems.

In his first appearance in the franchise, sullen, resentful Jakob apparently took off on his own after watching their sports-car-driving father blown to bits on a California speedway. Now he’s an international techno-villain, working for megalomaniacal Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen), whose father is the dictator of an unnamed Eastern European country.

Amid the adrenaline-pumping, globe-trotting chases, the ‘usual suspects’ show up. There’s Dom’s wife Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who was previously sidelined by amnesia; Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster); computer-hacker Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges); and Roman Pearce (Tyree Gibson), serving as comic relief.

Plus, resurrected Korean street racer Han Lue (Sung Kang), the top-secret government agent known as Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), jewel-thief Queenie (Helen Mirren, who only agreed to appear if they’d let her drive a car) and villainous, sardonic Cipher (Charlize Theron).

Thinly scripted by Daniel Casey, Alfredo Botello and director Justin Lin, this ninth installment revolves around generic Toretto sibling angst, punctuated by preposterous, over-the-top, physics-defying stunts and the sound of purring engines, squealing tires and skidding stops.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, F9: The Fast Saga barely revs up to a flimsy 5, yet audiences still seem to enjoy the silly spectacle.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.