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F9: THE FAST SAGA LEAVES LOGIC IN THE DUST

Does a so-called summer movie have to be brain-dead? I don’t believe it. But then, I don’t believe the preposterous goings-on in F9, part of what’s now being called The Fast Saga. The series, which began in 2001 with an action yarn called The Fast and the Furious, becomes more absurd with each new entry, leaving its original premise (about illegal street racing) behind and morphing into a mishmash of car chases, cloak-and-dagger operations, spectacular explosions, and violent fight scenes. People die but show up again intact, like Wile E. Coyote after falling off a cliff. Incoherence reigns supreme.

In recent installments of the series Vin Diesel has preached the gospel of family above all. In this entry we flash back in time to learn the events that shaped the fate of Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his brother, who to the best of my recollection has never been mentioned before.

I couldn’t provide a synopsis of this two-hour and twenty-five minute movie if I wanted to (and I don’t). The spoilers I carefully avoid in writing a review couldn’t betray a scenario so devoid of logic. A few casting cameos made me smile but even they aren’t sufficient reward for sitting through such a ridiculous film. Director Justin Lin, who made the leap from indie auteur to Big Time Filmmaker with this series, is credited with the script along with Daniel Casey from a story they devised with Alfredo Botello. Let’s just say I won’t be waiting for the published version.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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