Linda Cook review: ‘F9’ provides popcorn-fun action

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Has it really been 20 years since audiences embraced the first actioner in this series?

It sure has. “The Fast and the Furious” came out in 2001. Ever since, audiences have turned out in droves to watch fast cars, gunfire, street racing and romance.

Now, “F9: The Fast Saga,” is drawing crowds and setting post-pandemic box-office records. The movie made a record $70 million in its opening weekend, making it the biggest movie during the pandemic.

These movies, which often are ridiculous, defying gravity and science, are fast-paced popcorn fun. What I always have, and continue to, love about them is their diverse cast and glorious vehicles.

In this one, the central figure continues to be Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel). The story begins with Dom and his beloved Letty (Michelle Rodriguez,) along with Dom’s little boy, in a peaceful setting.

Serenity is not what this film is all about: Soon, they’re part of a mission that involves two characters heading to outer space in a specially constructed Fiero and a gizmo that can snarl traffic in a novel way. (This could be considered a science-fiction movie, what the disruptive device and the high-flying Fiero.)

Dom’s younger brother Jakob (John Cena), now a spy, turns up to continue his contentious relationship with Dom.

Helen Mirren is on hand as a fast-driving criminal, and Charlize Theron as a villainess who is involved in a delicious bit of dialogue involving conjecture about what would happen if the characters were in a movie … which, of course, they are.

One character makes a “surprise” return from previous films (I don’t do spoilers – still, it won’t shock anyone who has read much about this film.)

Alliances are formed. Bullets fly. Truth is revealed.

And, judging from the extra scene part-way through the credits, part 10 is on its way.

3 stars

Rated: PG-13 for foul language and violence.

Running time: Two hours and 25 minutes.

At Cinemark, Davenport; Regal, Moline; and Palms 10, Muscatine.

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