I'll put in another warning. This post will contain SPOILERS, so keep scrolling if you haven't seen the movie yet.
So the movie came out earlier for me because of where I live so now that it's been a few weeks since I saw the movie and I've been able to process it, here are some of my thoughts.
I'll start of by saying, I absolutely loved this movie. I felt that Fate of the Furious dropped the ball a bit and this movie really picked things up. Major credits for that go to Justin Lin and Daniel Casey.
Where was Hobbs?
We knew from the start that Hobbs and Shaw would not be appearing (although as we got closer to release I knew Jason Statham would be appearing in the movie thanks to a bit of internet research). You'd think that they would've made just a small comment about where they are. Even just saying "We can't bring Hobbs into this. He's retired and spending time with his daughter". They did it for Brian and Mia in F8 so why not Hobbs?
Lack of Car Culture
I loved a lot of the cars they used in the movie but I definitely felt the movie lacked a connection to cars that the last movies had. There was no real scenes of them acquiring or modifying any cars and they just happened to have cars available to them whenever they needed them.
A few scenes where I noticed this:
In Montequinto, where did Dom get his 2020 Hellcat and where did Tej get his Jeep Rubicon? They weren't seen with them at the airport.
Where did Dom get his Hellacious Charger, where did Letty get her Chevy Nova, where did Han get his Supra?
Sure, it's implied that the Tokyo Drift crew helped them get cars but at the same time we didn't get to see a lot of them working on their cars. Not even putting in the magnets that were suddenly fitted to the car.
The only real scene we saw of car modification was when Sean was working on the Pontiac Fiero.
Han was overhyped
Believe me, seeing Han in the trailer definitely made me jump for joy. Han was one of my favourites so I've always been hoping they'd bring him back. But the trailer overhyped his return. It went on about getting justice for him, but justice was not served. Without Jason Statham they can't get justice for him. The post-credits scene foreshadows events to come but still, billing Han as a main character was misleading.
Han is really only in four scenes:
A brief appearance in Tokyo
When he returns to tell his story
The final showdown
The barbecue at the Toretto's
And that's it! That's not even half the movie. Hopefully he'll be back in the next movies so we can't get some more action from him.
Elle was talked up too much
Don't get me wrong, Elle was a great character and she had a great fight scene and she's got potential. But the way they were advertising her as this big and great character was just wrong.
Elle, like Han, really only appears in those four scenes and all she got was that one epic fight scene in Tokyo. There was so much more they could've done with her so let's hope they do in future movies (and maybe even the all-female spinoff).
A lot of people complained about her being in the movie, I honestly didn't care. In fact, her two second appearance was actually key to the plot as she helped them track Jakob. Only thing is, they cut one of her scenes. You see her walking down the stairs at Hatfield House and there was supposed to be an introduction of her there but they cut to Otto. Not sure what they were doing there.
Charlize: The Good and the Bad
Charlize Theron was the perfect addition to the franchise in F8 as the main villain. But this movie should've done a lot more with her.
I like that they brought her back, despite the fact she was filming another movie at the time. Although she was in a cage for most of the movie it was great that she was able to reclaim her place as the big bad villain by the end of the movie. I like the fact that they make you think for a moment that she's dead only to reveal she was in a flight simulator. Just goes to show how smart she is and that by manipulating people she was able to escape once again and she'll be back for more (she better be!).
She too was overhyped. The trailer made it look like she was the overarching villain again and working with Jakob but then you realise that she's actually Jakob's victim. And Otto is sort of the overarching villain of this one. In reality, she was a minor character, at best, in this movie and for the three scenes she was in she was in a cage for two of them. Not to mention the fact that she appeared right at the start and didn't appear again until close to the very end. The only good part is that she was able to double cross Otto and escape again so she'll be reclaiming her spot in the next movie as the ultimate big bad of the franchise.
Could they have done more with Otto?
This is one I was pondering. Otto was a prick, as Jakob put it, but he had some quirks as a villain. It would've been interesting to see if his alliance with Cipher had remained and he could've slipped away at the last moment to team up with her in the next two movies. Instead he's dead. Oh well. What do you think? Could they have done more with Otto?
The Progression of the Movie
I feel the movie maybe went a little too quickly. I think they tried squeezing a lot into two and a half hours. Right after the first flashback, we're immediately into the action in Montequinto. No build up like in the previous movies, nothing. We didn't get a lot of in-between. At the same time that can be a positive but it definitely felt like the movie was going at a rapid pace.
The Tokyo Drift Crew
It was great to see them back! It only took five movies (and a minor appearance from Lucas Black in F7) but here they are. Sadly they were only in three scenes (Bow Wow only 2 scenes) but now that they've been reintroduced and are clearly part of the crew I'm expecting we'll see them in future movies. (Who knows maybe they'll do a Tokyo Drift 2? I doubt it) Maybe even Neela will come back.
It was great to see him back too but it felt a little out of place. It didn't really connect to the story but still, always happy to have legacy characters come back.
Ultimately, I think this might've been one of the greatest Fast movies they've done (in the F4-Present era). A new writer and the return of Justin Lin is exactly what we needed. I think Chris Morgan has past his prime with the Fast movies. Sadly, Daniel Casey will not be back to write Fast 10 but hopefully they have a writer who can live up to his legacy!