A fast and furious heroine’s tale.

This is a review…of sorts and there may be some spoilers ahead, so if you care about that stuff and you want to see F9 in all its non-spoiled glory, best you come back another day. You will want to come back, though, because I’m going to break it down for you…

Because I am the best wife in the entire world, I accompanied the luckiest husband in the world to the cinema to see F9, the latest instalment in the Fast and Furious franchise. I have nicknamed F&F ‘cars, guns and tits’. A well-meaning friend assured me, “Oh, there’s hardly any cars in those movies these days, it’s just Jason Statham brooding on screen.‘ Can I just say, I sat through what seemed like 18 hours of cars, guns, and to be fair, not that many mammaries, and got to see Jason Statham for about 40 seconds.

However, I did notice something I think only writers and those who understand the Heroine’s Journey will pick up on. At about the halfway point, the guy who believes he is the evil villain (who all but strokes a cat while wearing leather gloves), tells the F9 badasses ‘You all think you are the hero of your own story,’ and later, much later, he makes a few Star Wars references. He thinks he’s Luke Skywalker or Han Solo but the real evil villain, Charlize Theron with a truly awful haircut, says, ‘You’re Yoda. A puppet with someone’s hand up your ass.’

I’ve just read Gail Carriger’s The Heroine’s Journey and seriously, if you’re a writer of any kind, you need to read this great book!

Listen to Gail talk to Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn podcast

Okay, so there are a few random references about Star Wars, the stories created after George Lucas read The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. The hero’s journey, right? Nope. The original Star Wars trilogy are more like a heroine’s journey and guess what, so is F9.

Vin Diesel is the heroine of his own tale and I think he knows it. It just seems too obvious having read Carriger’s book.

I think if you were to analyse the structure of F9 it would follow a path set out by that original Star Wars trilogy, even down to the beginning with Diesel’s character, Dom, hiding out with his little family like Luke on Tatooine. He is nursing a broken heart after losing his wife in the course of the previous movie. He is literally separated from the feminine. And then the fight comes to him – he is called to action. Of course, like all good heroine’s he rejects the call and puts his family first, until he realises he has another family member to save! Family is all important to the heroine. He joins his comrades, gathers his allies and if it could get any more masculine it would have a dirty big moustache.

Then they are firmly on the road of trials, and they quickly find the thing, but oh no, it’s not going to be that easy, Dom! They are busted and they must go underground, where all good heroine’s have gone since Demeter had to go find Persephone. Blah, blah, blah, they do a bunch of stuff, tell us a bunch of backstories. We hear all about how Dom ended up as brooding and hard as he did. He has a bunch of family-oriented awakenings and people say things like “the worst thing you can do to a Toretto is take away his family.’

So, then they shoot a lot of ammunition. A shit ton. Cars get wrecked. Then the villain betrays his right-hand guy, Dom’s shit head of a kid brother who turned into John Cena. Cena is the Hero archetype here. He broods even harder than Dom and is better and stronger on his own. Luckily Dom has already had his moment of reckoning with the past and has decided he will forgive his little brother even though he trapped them underground and confessed that he’s tried to anonymously kill Dom’s crew numerous times over the past decade. So, there’s that.

They join forces and in an incredibly believable series of events (!) they reunite momentarily before Dom sends John Cena off on a quest of his own. Which means another movie…

Phew, I need a lie down after that. Oh, and then that little teaser of Jason Statham at the end…


Next week I think I’ll break down Black Widow (a hero archetype) and bore you with my theory about David Harbour’s characters in Stranger Things and Black Widow…

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