What to watch | Vin Diesel is back in action plus a teen romcom sequel and a sexy thriller

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Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michele Rodriguez) are back for more vehicular mayhem in Fast & Furious 9. (PHOTO: Universal Pictures)
Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michele Rodriguez) are back for more vehicular mayhem in Fast & Furious 9. (PHOTO: Universal Pictures)

F9: The Fast Saga *** 1/2

Action. With Vin Diesel, John Cena and Michelle Rodriguez. Director: Justin Lin.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that it was a 1998 Vibe magazine article, titled Racer X, that spawned a multibillion-­dollar franchise which started out as a Point Break knock-off.

Now, 10 movies (including Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) and two decades into the series, the franchise has long parted ways with mundane concepts such as gravity, physics, logic and chronology, but it remains a rollicking good time.

The plot of F9 is pretty much secondary to the requisite innovative and thrilling stunt sequences, but it involves Dom (Diesel) and his crew facing off against his long-­lost, never-before-mentioned little brother Jakob (Cena).

Jakob is on a mission to get his hands on a superweapon  – for some or other nefarious purpose – with a little help from cyber-terrorist Cipher (a woefully underused Charlize Theron), a near-endless supply of henchmen and his flying car. 

It should go without saying that Jakob, like his big brother, is also a super-powered driver and more than capable of delivering his share of fast and furious beat downs (sorry!).

Like in many of the previous instalments, most of the gang is back, including super-­cool fan favourite Han (Sung Kang), who died in part 3.

He went on to star in parts 4, 5 and 6, thanks to screenwriting magic which decided the sequels in fact took place before the events of part 3. That’s what I mean about messing with chronology.

Like Letty (Rodriguez), Han also dodged death thanks to a fan campaign, #JusticeforHan, and some impressive plot contortions.This time around there’s even space travel, because why not?

F9 is a blast, a mostly forgettable one to be sure, but great fun nonetheless. 

– DENNIS CAVERNELIS

2021. 143 min. 13VL. AVAILABLE ON GOOGLE PLAY, APPLE TV+ AND DSTV BOXOFFICE.

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You **

To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You, Lana Condor,
Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. (PHOTO: Netflix)

Romantic comedy. In this sequel to the hit movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018), American high school students Lara Jean ­Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter ­Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) are now a cute couple after confessing their feelings in the previous instalment.

But then Lara Jean runs into John (Jordan Fisher), one of the boys to whom she wrote a love letter in the first film, and while they spend time together volunteering at a retirement home, she begins to develop feelings for him. 

Sadly, P.S. I Still Love You doesn’t live up to the original movie and falls into the same trap as many other romcom sequels by creating unnecessary problems for a couple who ended with a happily ever after in the first film.

The chemistry between Condor and Centineo is palpable and you can easily see why he’s become the latest teen heartthrob. But even though Fisher (Work It) plays the charming John well, there really isn’t a compelling reason why he was brought into the story other than to cause complications that feel forced.

It may be based on the second novel in the series of the same name by Jenny Han, but the sequel feels rushed and is a far cry from the originality found in the first movie. 

P.S. I Still Love You will only satisfy die-hard fans who want to see more of their favourite characters. 

– DEWALD POTGIETER 

2020. 102 MIN. 10-12PG L. AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX. 

Fatale ** 1/2 

Fatale, Michael Ealy, Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy in Fatale. (PHOTO: Lionsgate)

Thriller. Romantic obsession has been the focus of many erotic thrillers, such as Fatal Attraction (1987), Obsessed (2009) and The Boy Next Door (2015), and in Fatale its latest victim is Derrick Tyler (Michael Ealy). 

He’s a millionaire sports agent with a mansion, luxury cars and a beautiful woman by his side. But his marriage to real-estate agent Tracie (Damaris Lewis) isn’t as perfect as it seems and his eye wanders during a night out in Las Vegas. 

Seduction comes in the form of Val (Hilary Swank), who regularly comes to Vegas to blow off steam from her stressful job. Derrick gives her a fake name during their night of passion and thinks that’s the last he’ll see of her. But after a break-in at his house, their paths cross again. Then a game of cat-and-mouse begins.

Not far into the film you’ll start feeling as if there should be a limit on the number of twists allowed in a single story. Of course viewers should be kept guessing, but pull the rug out from under us one too many times and the plot loses credibility, as it does in Fatale. 

Ealy (Think Like a Man) delivers his usual good ­performance, but not even he or two-time Oscar winner Swank can save the film. 

Fatale is generally watchable with good cinematography, but adds nothing new to a genre that’s been done to death.

– LARA ATSON

2020. 102 MIN. 16VSL. AVAILABLE ON DSTV BOXOFFICE. 

A: All ages   D: Drugs   H: Horror   L: Language   N: Nudity   P: Prejudice   PG: Parental guidance S: Sex  V: Violence

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