The ninth movie in the Fast & Furious franchise is imaginatively titled… Fast & Furious 9. It’s also known as F9, and like the command key on the computer, its only purpose is to refresh old material.

It isn’t only the plot that’s stale. The humans who apparently perished before our eyes in previous films are not permitted to stay dead. Featuring several familiar faces (including Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster and Nathalie Emmanuel), at least one important new actor and another resurrected character, Justin Lin’s F9 is to the franchise what Moonraker was for the Bond series: a more outlandish than usual action adventure that strains to be convincing even within the parameters of this kind of movie.

It begins with Dom (Vin Diesel), as it usually does, and a brother we never knew of. Estranged for years, Dom and Jakob (John Cena) meet again when the villains Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen) and Cipher (Charlize Theron) threaten to deploy a cyber-weapon capable of causing mass havoc.

An early stunt involving a car that magically attaches itself to the bottom of a plane is a warning of ludicrous times ahead. By the time Roman (Tyrere Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) have found themselves in a most unlikely place, the movie has given up any semblance of coherence.

Unlike the irreverent spin-off Hobbes & Shaw, F9 takes itself too seriously. Far too much time in the 142-minute movie is spent on sitting around and pontificating on the importance of family and friendship.

The climactic action sequence provides the thrills that franchise loyalists have signed up for (among other things, it involves cars being flung like rocks at an armoured truck). Another sequence involving Roman and Tej is a science fiction-meets-comedy moment, which is far more entertaining than anything else in the movie. What this never-ending saga needs is a Roman & Tej spinoff.

Fast & Furious 9 (2021).