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Will 'F9' rev up the box office?

Or is the "Fast and Furious" franchise running out of gas?
Credit: AP
Picture courtesy of Universal Pictures features Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel in "F9: The Fast Saga". (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)

Here we are at the ninth installment of "Fast and Furious." Like so many action adventure films, the studio wanted the full effect of the big screen, but COVID had other plans. 

Originally slated to open on the 2020 Memorial Day weekend, it was pushed and pushed until this final week of June 2021. Now, it's in theaters only, and it could be the best chance yet for a huge post-pandemic box office.

Believe it or not, Vin Diesel has played "Dom" for 20 years now. Family has always meant everything to Dom. He and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have moved off the grid, but their fast friends pull them back in. 

Dom reconnects with his estranged brother played by John Cena. But, no hugs here. We find out why their relationship went south, with Cena arriving as a villain, trying to help super villainess Charlize Theron pull off her latest conquest. There are plenty of racetrack flashbacks involving their dad. Yup, that's where Dom got his love of fast cars.

Speaking of fast cars, there are also some incredible races, the trademark of the franchise. Where do they come up with these ideas, and how do they pull them off? Cheers to the stunt team. 

Several races involve a new fascination with electromagnetism thanks to the bad guys, and those get a little silly. Bordering on ridiculous is a scene toward the end of the movie involving Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and a homemade rocket on a space mission. If "F9" literally jumped a canyon earlier, it comes close to jumping the shark here.

Longtime fans are rewarded with the return of a supporting character, and be sure to stay for the credits and a scene with one character who was not in the film. 

There are two more "Fast and Furious" installments planned, with the end of the road after number eleven. Let's hope they top off the tank and cross the finish line with less espionage and lots of fury.

(Universal Pictures. Rated PG-13. Running time 2 hrs. 25 min)