Strict guidelines stipulate that I warn you: There are SPOILERS ahead and opinions that will have zero effect on anyone’s view of “F9,” the latest “Fast and Furious” movie.
“F9” soars to greater levels of ridiculousness than ever for the wildly over-the-top “Fast and Furious” franchise. But that near-death scene screams the series has jumped the shark – or the blown-out bridge on a cliff.
I’m not referring to beloved Han (Sung Kang) waltzing into “F9” after his clearly misinterpreted fiery death in “Fast and Furious 6.” That was three “Furious,” one “Hobbs & Shaw” and a #JusticeForHan campaign ago.
That’s how the humorous non-reality rolls in “F9,” with soaring cars pulled onto planes by gigantic magnets; Ludacris’ Tej saying, “As long as we obey the laws of physics, we’ll be fine” as cars rocket into space; and Dame Helen Mirren careening around London without even thinking about her seat belt.
All of that is entertaining …
I’m talking about the other faux death in “F9.”
This is your last chance to bail before the “real” spoiler. Which is really not that much of a spoiler, since it’s a fake death.
It’s the scene of Dom Toretto’s near-demise, quasi-ascension and rebirth that’s making me stick my fork in this four-wheeled franchise. The excruciating scene will cause ocular exhaustion from eye-rolling and is a bleak harbinger of the “Furious” future.
It all goes down in an industrial hideout as Dom (Vin Diesel) urges his comrades to shelter from a pursuing battalion of baddies. Close the hatch, he’ll take the blows. Distraught love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) has an especially tough time leaving Dom to certain death. Worse, she has to watch from behind the protective glass.
And Dom luxuriates in the dramatic spotlight, like Captain Kirk’s hammy 1967 “Star Trek” battle against the lizard alien Gorn.
But it’s multiplied in “F9,” as ever-appearing baddies throw themselves at Dom with zombie-inspired fighting zeal. He has only two hands for tossing them over catwalks. They overpower with sheer numbers.
The Dom pummeling turns to group kicking, long enough to make clear that this is moving from peril to perish.
Letty screams in anguish watching Dom’s desperate, biblically inspired power move. He pulls chains, Samson-like, to bring the lair crashing down over him. Pursuing baddies and Dom head to certain death in the water below.
Drowning Dom even has an out-of-body experience with white light-filled childhood moments, heavenly talk of “coming home,” previously unseen secret life events and, naturally, a past pivotal drag race.
Then Letty swoops down and pulls Dom from the murky depths.
Moments later, Dom pushes up from a table with a look that suggests mere intestinal discomfort. A kiss from Letty later, he’s back in the fight.
Even with the “Are we invincible?” theme that runs through “F9,” it’s all too much. You don’t drop scenes like that and just push on.
And about those extras impaling their faces onto Dom’s fists: They’re lame. It doesn’t have to be Thanos, but how about some worthier foes now that there’s clearly more villainous work to be done?
Trailer Tuesdays: ‘F9’ and the craziest moments from past ‘Fast and Furious’ films
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Which brings up the foreboding that stays long after “F9” resumes action at acceptable levels of absurdity. There are reportedly two more “Furious” chapters.
If we’re having budget-blowing, curtain-closing moments now, how much more overwrought drama is coming down the tunnel when something of consequence actually does happen in the final 300 or so minutes?
We’ve already had a scene that strives to match Iron Man’s franchise-closing death in “Avengers: Endgame.” And we’re not even close to the final turn. Even with the teased prospect of Jason Statham returning with his uncompromising swagger and sly humor, “Fast and Furious” is gonna get gooey, real gooey.
This might be the time to jump in the muscle car and just ride off into the “Fast and Furious” sunset.