Universal Pictures’ “F9” marks the multiple returns. First, it was among the first of the blockbusters to be released in theaters. It also saw director Justin Lin come back to helm the franchise after going on hiatus to pursue other projects. While we are still in a pandemic, those that chose to wait patiently for the latest chapter in the “Fast and Furious” franchise to hit home entertainment. So for a film that has shown such longevity and had moments that only deserved to be seen on the big screen deserves to have something as awesome as a director’s cut.
In the ninth chapter of the “Fast and Furious” saga, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are living quiet lives and away from a life of crime. But they find themselves drawn back in when Dom and Mia’s (Jordana Brewster) long-lost sibling Jakob (John Cena) comes out of hiding. The events that led up to the family splitting are complicated but it was enough to drive Jakob to seek vengeance on his own flesh and blood. But as the franchise continues on, the emotional investment in these characters and their development are starting to wain. So much so that it feels like the creatives are recycling stories or at least retooling some plots that couldn’t be used in the previous films.
Sure the street racers turned bank robbers turn international spies was a nice way to keep the franchise fresh and prevent it from going stale. And it is exceptional when the stunt work is practical. Of course, when it comes to these blockbusters, there is bound to be some CGI at play. But Lin finds creative ways to make the editing work seamlessly in a way where the CGI and practical stunts work in conjunction with each other.
And you get to see what Lin did to make sure that the stunts were as practical as possible in the “Practically Fast” bonus feature. Watching Lin and his second unit directing team figure out the logistics for the magnet car chase and then executing it is informative and also very fun.
And bringing back familiar characters like Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Roman (Tyrese Gibson), as well as Sean (Lucas Black), Twinkie (Bow Wow), and Morimoto (Leonardo Nam) was a fun way to tie everything together. But it was reviving the fan-favorite Han (Sung Kang) that spoke to the “Fast and Furious” community.
While there are some obligatory features like the commentary from Lin, as well as the director’s cut, gag reels, and “John Cena: Supercar Superfan” explores how the actor came on board. But then there’s “Justice For Han” which covers the #JusticeForHan campaign to bring back Han into the present-day Fast and Furious timeline.
Sure, “F9” may not be the strongest installment of the “Fast and Furious” film franchise, but its 4K Director’s Cut release is packed with all sorts of terrific bonus features. And it shows how much potential is left to end the story on its own terms. Of course, a lot has changed since the franchise first launched in 2001, with Gal Gadot leaving to become Wonder Woman, and Paul Walker’s tragic death. But it has found ways to move forward that honors the franchise and everyone involved in the projects for the past 20 years. So it will be interesting to see where things go from here.
Here is a list of F9: The Fast Saga Special Features
• Feature Commentary with Producer/Co-writer/Director Justin Lin (Theatrical (2:22:52) and Director’s Cut (2:29:55))
• John Cena: Supercar Superfan (4:37)
• Gag Reel (3:36)
• Practically Fast (7:53)
• Shifting Priorities (4:00)
• Justice For Han (3:39)
• A Day on Set with Justin Lin (10:01)
- F9: All In (46:34)
- The Family Returns (3:21)
- New Breed of Bad Guy (6:14)
- Building the Land Mine Chase (5:44)
- A Woman’s Touch (5:12)
- Vin, Helen, and the Queen (6:09)
- Growing the Family (4:29)
- Controlled Chaos (9:12)
- Tokyo Drift Reunited (2:50)
- Raising the Bar (3:24)