Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez in F9: The Fast Saga.

When The Fast and the Furious money train got started back in 2001, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were starring in a Point Break sort of film with street racing added in. It was a down-to-earth, efficiently slick action thriller.

Twenty years and eight films later, we have F9: The Fast Saga, and things are literally going into space. Yes, really: A couple of guys blast into space with a rocket strapped to their car, as they wear deep-sea diving suits.

Translation: Things have gone bonkers beyond repair with this franchise.

I’ve certainly enjoyed a few of the Fast movies, like the first one, and the one in which Diesel and Walker jumped a car through skyscrapers. There was something about that skyscraper one that made it work. That director, James Wan, had a knack for pure insanity and humor. However, F9 (like the third through sixth films in the franchise) is directed by Justin Lin—and his approach is all flat.

Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his friends are some kind of secret agents, more or less, and this one has them running around in England, so The Fast Saga is, in some ways, stealing from James Bond. In a lot of ways, F9 is the Moonraker of the Fast franchise. That’s the Bond film in which he went to space—and everything went completely nuts.

Because Diesel and Dwayne Johnson apparently can’t stand each other, John Cena steps in as Dominic’s long-lost brother, who’s also a secret agent but slightly meaner. Cena doesn’t have half the charisma of Johnson, although he does have slightly more charisma than Diesel, who always appears to be half-asleep.

I am sorry to say it, but this Fast entry is garbage. I expect they’ll find ways to have fun with the format again—but perhaps a switch in directors is in order.

F9: The Fast Saga is playing at theaters across the valley.

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