Rated: PG-13
Release Date: 06/25/2021
Production Company: Universal Pictures

Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Charlize Theron, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Helen Mirren, Michael Rooker and Sung Kang.

Director: Justin Lin. Producers: Vin Diesel, Justin Lin, Jeff Kirschenbaum, F. Valentino Morales, Neal H. Moritz, Joe Roth, Clayton Townsend and Samantha Vincent. Executive Producer: Vin Diesel. Screenwriters: Justin Lin. Alfredo Botello and Gary Scott Thompson. Cinematographer: Stephen F. Windon.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Is it time to put the brakes on the “Fast & Furious” movie franchise? I thought so, until I saw “F9: The Fast Saga,” the latest installment from this high-powered muscle car series. Rest assured. There is still plenty of gas left in the tank.

Plus, with the success “F9” has already garnered overseas, grossing nearly $300 million dollars, it’s no surprise director/producer Justin Lin and mega-star Vin Diesel would want to ride this thing until the wheels fall off.

So, it’s possible we might be up to “F15” before it’s all said and done, although Diesel has said that “F10” is likely the last chapter. However, how “F9” fares at the box office this weekend could change all that.

These movies have always been silly fun and “F9” continues the tradition with emphasis on the silliness. Yet, amid all the death defying, jaw-dropping, car crashing aerobatics, “F9” also manages to have a compelling story to boot.

Family has always been a central theme throughout the “Fast & Furious” movies and this one especially dives deeper into Dominic Toretto’s (Diesel) background. Through some nice use of flashbacks, we learn more about who was really responsible for the death of Dom’s race car driver father Jack (J.D. Pardo, TV’s “Mayans M.C.”). Vinnie Bennett (TV’s “The Gulf”) is quite good as young Dominic.

In addition, Dom’s forsaken brother Jakob, (a particularly good John Cena, “The Suicide Squad”) is a master thief, assassin, and a high-performance driver too. who is partial to souped up Mustangs. That’s my kind of guy. Finn Cole (TV’s “Animal Kingdom”) plays the young Jakob and is good too.

Anyway, Jakob has a score to settle with Dominic and that’s what sets this whole thing in motion. Dominic has been off the grid and living out in the country with his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, “Crisis”) and teaching their adorable young son Brian (Isaac Holtane) how to fix a tractor among other things.

Their tranquility is interrupted when Roman (Tyrese Gibson, TV’s “The Masked Singer”), Tej (Ludacris, TV’s “Will From Home”) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel, TV’s “Die Hart”), the British hacktivist, roll up to their house and tell Dom that Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell, “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”) has captured Cipher (Charlize Theron, TV’s “The Old Guard”), the criminal mastermind and cyberterrorist, but his plane was intercepted by extremists and crashed in Central America. They need Dom’s help to find out what really happened.

Initially, Dom doesn’t want any part of the mission until he realizes that Jakob is involved. Now, he’s forced to help especially since Jakob may have access to a device that can hack into every computer weapons system.

Now, they are globe-trotting all over the world to take down Jakob and his potential weapon of mass destruction. For Tej and Roman that means a trip to outer space courtesy of a rocket propelled Pontiac Fiero custom designed by Twinkie (Shad Moss/Lil Bow Wow, TV’s “The Mass Singer”), Sean (Lucas Black, TV’s “NCIS: New Orleans”) and Earl (Jason Tobin, TV’s “Warrior”).

“F9” packs a lot in during its nearly 2 ½ hour run time. Familiar and surprising faces pop up like Han Lue (Sung Kang, TV’s “Power Book II: Ghost”) who was believed dead, but Mr. Nobody had the last laugh about that.

Cardi B. who has a bit of history with Dominic gets her moment to shine as well. Queenie, the jewel thief (a funny Helen Mirren, “The One and Only Ivan”) also gives her “favorite American” (Dominic) a huge assist.

While there are plenty of explosions, car crashes and insane stunts in “F9,” I enjoyed the sibling rivalry storyline maybe the most.

Vin Diesel has certainly cemented his legacy with this exceptional series that has been going strong now for 20 years. It’s hard to believe “The Fast & Furious” debuted in 2001.

“F9: The Fast Saga” proves this franchise hasn’t worn out its welcome and is still a fun and wild ride.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Watch This Trailer For "F9: THE FAST SAGA"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Book Of Numbers Title: Book Of Numbers
Year Released: 1973
Running Time: 81
Production Company: AVCO Embassy Pictures
Director: Raymond St. Jacques
Director of Photography: Gayne Rescher
Screenwriter: Raymond St. Jacques
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: As a kid growing up in San Bernardino, California, I remember this cute, curly-headed, green eyed young guy coming over my family’s house with his handyman/electrician father to do some repair work. Little did I know the shy teen would become an iconic TV star.

Yeah, Philip Michael Thomas who played Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs alongside Don Johnson in the...
Prior to starring in the 1980s hit TV show “Miami Vice,” Philip Michael Thomas made his Broadway debut in which of the following theatrical productions?
“Hair” and “Aquarius”
“Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Fiddler On The Roof”
“Pippin” and “The Wiz”
“No Place To Be Somebody” and “The Selling of the President."