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Franchises are taking over Hollywood. If only they could all be ‘F9: The Fast Saga.’

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It’s still too early to predict the post-pandemic form of the entertainment industry. But if movie theaters are going to be completely dominated by franchises, those series should take a lesson from the Fast Saga. “F9,” which arrived in theaters this weekend, is proof that American movies can both be internationally appealing and culturally specific, loud and sentimental, populist and hip.

The Fast Saga didn’t start out with world-conquering ambitions. “The Fast and the Furious,” released in 2001, was a cops-and-robbers drama set in Los Angeles’s underground drag racing scene starring Paul Walker as Officer Brian O’Conner and Vin Diesel as charismatic racer Dominic Toretto.

Twenty years, nine movies and one spin off later, the franchise bears little resemblance to that modest first installment. The cars are still very fast, and the characters still drink Coronas and hold family as their highest value. But Walker died in an unrelated 2013 car crash. The setting has expanded beyond Los Angeles all the way to Earth’s orbit. And the roster of vehicles the characters drive and explode now includes armored vehicles, submarines and drone-controlled planes equipped with giant magnets.

On paper, that expanded mayhem quotient and global itinerary makes the Fast Saga sound like every........

© Washington Post

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