Fast 9, a pure carbon Dodge Charger

Fast 9, a pure carbon Dodge Charger

Fast 9

Fans of the Fast & Furious series know very well that muscle cars are a hallmark of its iconic man, Dominic Toretto (aka Vin Diesel). And in the twenty years since the saga began, nearly every chapter has seen several updates to the flagship model, the 1970 Dodge Charger prepared for drag racing. After all, we know that in the USA head-to-head competition on the straight is the maximum expression of “custom” speed.

Returning to Fast 9, car supervisor Dennis McCarthy has again requested the collaboration of the Speedkore team for another dream Charger. This time, it's a reinterpretation of the 2019 model entirely redone in carbon: and when we say "entirely" it means that every single piece has been redesigned for maximum stiffness and strength. All this, as always, regardless of expense: this car in fact cost the beauty of a million dollars.

If the aesthetics remain in line with the previous versions, there are some questions about the engine and its specifications. In the mythology of the film, this Charger is powered by a huge central motor positioned just behind the driver's seat (which takes up practically half of the car's usable space). But we know how Hollywood, and the Fast & Furious series, love to exaggerate so it could be a simple mock-up.

More likely the use of an evolution of the HEMI Hellcat front engine already used in previous versions always signed Speedkore. The latter is close to a thousand horsepower with an extravagant torque of over 1300 nm (data from the tuner). Perfect for accelerating on the forehand and wheelie from a standstill, Toretto's favorite activities.

In short: Fast & Furious is easy to criticize for becoming something of a Marvel Movie with cars, yet the series hasn't forgotten some key points. Our hope is that cars will be less of a side dish in the next chapters and really become protagonists again. But it is already fun to discover, with each new chapter, how far the stars and stripes motoring madness can go.

‘Fast and Furious 9′ review: Just enough to pull ’em back into theaters?

“F9: The Fast Saga” is just OK. But amid a pandemic recovery, and factoring in the soothing relief provided by a large, loud summer movie, “OK” has officially morphed into a synonym for “good enough.”

This thing has everything. It has rocket cars in space. It has giant magnets pulling trucks through buildings and out the other side. It has a cameo by Cardi B. And it has quiet interlude between franchise anchor Vin Diesel (back as Dominic Toretto) and Michael Rooker (as some guy named Buddy), showcasing two of the growliest actors alive. Maybe Nick Nolte can hop on for “Fast & Furious 10.”

As a bonus, director and co-writer Justin Lin’s outlandish bash includes handy lessons in critical race theory — the other kind. Early on, Dom and the FF crew are barreling through a Central American valley pockmarked with landmines. The theory: faster and furiouser wins the race against death, which turns out to be true in practice.

In Edinburgh, another critical race commences, starring John Cena as Jakob, the villain’s henchman and Dom’s dad-liked-you-better brother. Jakob, ziplines across the city after stealing a key part of the Tesseract — sorry, the spherical glowing plot device known as “Project Aries” — while Dom pursues from street level.

So much for Earth. At one point in “F9,” Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges”) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) find themselves orbiting Earth in a rocket-powered Pontiac, because that’s how this movie rolls. Clock’s ticking, and they have mere moments to destroy a satellite that holds the key to worldwide digital communication destruction (which sounds pretty good to me, most days) favored by Charlize Theron’s Cipher.

“Two dudes from the ghetto … in outer space,” Bridges says. If that laugh line sounds moldy and/or lame, it’s worth remembering that the first “F&F” 20 years ago was, in part, about stealing VCRs. A little bit “Moonraker,” a little bit “Mission: Ridiculous,” the later “F&F”s are essentially mashups of the last 20 movies played in those VCRs.

Co-written by Lin and Daniel Casey, with a firm grasp of how loose this enterprise can get and still get by, “F9” hauls Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) out of their solemnly perfect off-the-grid existence with son Brian (Isaac Holtane and Immanuel Holtane) to block that apocalypse alongside their comrades. The best of the bunch? From where I sit, it’s Nathalie Emmanuel’s returning computer hacker Ramsey. She lightens the load simply by getting on with it and enjoying herself. Sung Kang’s Han returns as well, even though he died in “Fast & Furious 6.” Death is nothing in this franchise. Nothing.

John Cena plays the Vin Diesel character's estranged, vengeful, killer-assassin brother in 'F9: The Fast Saga.' (Photo Credit: Universal Pictures/AP)

Much of “F9″ flashes back to the late ’80s and early ’90s, dwelling on family ties, blood feuds and footage of young Dom (Vinnie Bennett) and young Jakob (Finn Cole) and the big reveal of how their racer father met his maker. Family is everything here, as we keep hearing, and as if we didn’t know. And it doesn’t matter how many passers-by die terrible, presumptive deaths en route to keeping this clan together for one more round of proudly product-placed Coronas.

It has been true for many years now: The “F&F” franchise is the most democratic, multiethnic franchise in modern movies, and it’s plainly better for it. The women here manage a fair percentage of the action — not half or anything, but give it another a couple of sequels. “F&F” has its roots in a street-racing hit, while its present and future, for better or worse, lies in a world beyond Bond or Ethan Hunt. Lin isn’t afraid to give these old-shoe, new-gym-time, gravity-, physics- and death-defying characters superhuman abilities; bodies fall hundreds of feet at high speeds onto hot car hoods, and it’s like whatever. While I wish the story and the banter had some snap (Groot had better dialogue, speaking of Vin Diesel movies), and while I wish the electromagnet-derived mayhem in “F9” led to a truly magnetic movie, sometimes good enough is enough.

‘F9: The Fast Saga’ — 2.5 stars

MPAA rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action, and language)

How to watch: Opens June 24 in theaters only.

Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.

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