F9

Nine movies in, it’s folly to call out Fast and Furious 9 — or F9 — for its silliness. Anyone arguing otherwise, by pulling out high-and-mighty, all-analytical, razor-edged film-critic rationales (well, acerbic words mostly) is being as infantile as the filmmakers. The series had set its tone since 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003). In the words of a popular snow goddess from Disney: let it go!

Even the characters know what this film series is about. During an R&R time-out, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) realises that they’re invincible. As if hit on the head by divine wisdom, he reasons that they shouldn’t be alive. Just a few short minutes back, he was in a circular cave and an army of foot soldiers was firing from above. With metres of distance between them, they shouldn’t have missed — yet the soldiers did, and he didn’t.

Shortly afterwards, his heavy-duty truck gets blown-up from below and lodges right in the middle of a mountain crevice. As the truck slides face down on to an explosive mine below, Roman breaks out of the windshield, and falls inches away from the bomb, moments before the truck plummets on him and the explosive. A big dusty blast later, Roman walks over from behind the smoke and debris without a scratch.

No matter how ridiculous the chase, or how big the weapon, there’s no two ways about it: they’re not meant to die… unless the producers want to create a sombre moment, but that might probably get reversed. For instance, a formerly dead group member comes back in F9 [actor Sung Kang, who died in part three, Tokyo Drift (2006) is visible in the poster].

No matter how ridiculous the chase, or how big the weapon, the characters are simply not meant to die in F9, while Sardar ka Grandson is nothing but a bore

As far as the story goes, one can’t top the description from website BoxOfficeMojo: “Cipher (Charlize Theron) enlists the help of Jakob (Dominic Sena), Dom’s younger brother, to take revenge on Dom and his team.”

Yeah, so, you know, the usual stuff. Still silly but mighty fun. Good action set-pieces too. Save for the ticket when it comes to the cinemas…if it comes to the cinemas.

Directed by Justin Lin, Written by Lin and Daniel Casey (this is the first film that’s not concocted by series regular Chris Morgan; he joined from Tokyo Drift), F9 is rated PG-13, for, you know, the usual stuff.


Sardar ka Grandson

Sardar ka Grandson begins with noble intentions and a plot pilfered from Pixar’s Up. In a desperate effort to fulfill his dying grandmother’s incessant wish to see her house in Lahore, the klutzy grandson travels to Pakistan with plans to uproot and transport the old house to Amritsar.

The grandmother, in bad prosthetic make-up, is Neena Gupta, who goes by the name of Sardar (guess she’s the sardar of the house); the klutzy grandson, Arjun Kapoor, is Amreek (you see, he hails from America, ergo Amreek from Amreeka). The film is a bore.

John Abraham and Aditi Rao Hyderi, the young, pre-Partition versions of the grandparents, are wasted in spur-of-the-moment flashbacks that were, I suppose, shoehorned in to give the film some credence and emotional weight.

Even the villain — the Mayor of Lahore (Kumud Mishra) — who holds a grudge against the ailing Sardar because she nearly pulled off his beard during a heated Pakistan-India match — is a paperweight who does very little villainy. The most he does is threaten Amreek, who plods through his plans to shift the house across borders without the assistance of trained house-movers (our gallant hero saw some videos on YouTube and came to Pakistan…wah!).

Amreek has some help though. His ex-girlfriend, played by Rukul Preet Singh, who runs a moving company — the type that cartons one’s belongings and shifts them from one location to another — comes over from LA to help him.

The thing screenwriters Anuja Chauhan and Kaashvie Nair (also the director) may not realise — or maybe they do — is that the moving business (ie. transporting belongings) and the house-moving business (ie. uprooting and transportation of houses) are two completely different lines of work. The latter necessitates years of technical experience.

Badly cast (Nina Gupta, in particular), imprudently written, insincerely acted, made with the bare basics of filmmaking wherewithal (the lighting, often overblown, is basic and bad) there’s a wealth of nothing to look forward to here. Still, the film reigns number one on Netflix, Pakistan? Go figure.

Sardar Ka Grandson is rated suitable for ages 13+. For once, it’s a film the family can sit together and watch… but the question is: do you want to? On second thought: don’t answer that.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2021

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