• by Wes Singleton

F9: The Fast Saga -B

Rated PG-13, 130 minutes

The entertaining, utterly ridiculous "F9: The Fast Saga" is much like a donut: you know it's not good for you, you don't want it but you want it too. You still know what you're getting though: a load of empty calories that does little for you. Similarly, “F9: The Fast Saga" does little for you, but it's still a lot of fun.

Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he's going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they've ever encountered: and he also happens to be Dom's forsaken brother, Jakob (John Cena).

Diesel and his gang of fast-driving rebels are back for more over-the-top action in "F9" directed and co-written by "Fast and Furious 6" director Justin Lin. Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel and Sung Kang, believed to be dead from other "Fast & Furious" films. They're joined by Oscar-winner Charlize Theron, in another money grab performance, as well as cameos by Oscar-winner Helen Mirren (wasted), and even Kurt Russell (needless). Stuffed with an overload of characters, back story (way too much time is spent on the Dom-Jakob history) and bad dialogue, "F9" won't rank as the best in the "Fast & Furious" but not the worst either.

The action-set pieces and stunts are generally the most memorable thing about these films, and Lin, Diesel and gang, on that note, deliver quite sublimely in such over-the-top fashion that they're becoming ho-hum routine. Whether traipsing across the jungle, the desert, the streets of London, heck even space, "F9" can't be accused of being dull or boring, though the Diesel/Cena standoff feels rather stiff. By now, audiences are expecting this and laugh along with it - at least they know what they're getting: enjoyable, albeit mindless, entertainment.

The action is the main reason this franchise has lasted 9 films and 20 years, and keeps going. "F9" is supposed - the key word supposed - to be the penultimate entry in this franchise, but at this rate who knows when or how it'll end. Many have remarked that Theron's villain needs a spin-off in the same manner as 2019's "Hobbs & Shaw," but in my opinion the next "Fast & Furious" spin-off should go to Rodriguez's bad-ass Letty, who's always been one of my favorites.

"F9: The Fast Saga" delivers more of the same crowd-pleasing visuals, action and stunts, and it will surely ignite some fire in a weak post-pandemic movie box-office. Forgettable, empty calories, but satisfying in its own way. With “F9” if you need a donut, just go ahead and take the full dozen. This will

please “Fast & Furious” fans most.