“F9: The Fast Saga,” the ninth installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise released in 2021, boldly ventures into the realm of space. However, it does so with a notably loose grasp on scientific accuracy. The movie sees two characters, portrayed by Tyrese Gibson and Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges, cobbling together a makeshift spacecraft from a 1984 Pontiac Fiero, launching it from an airborne plane – an audacious and scientifically implausible feat.
The Canadian veteran astronaut Chris Hadfield, renowned for his space experience, watched this scene and couldn’t help but notice significant disparities between the film’s depiction of space travel and the reality of his own space journeys.
“Like a billion other people on Earth, I really like the ‘Fast & Furious’ series,” Hadfield said in the video. “It’s almost just purely a cartoon, but unavoidably fun to follow and watch it.”
While he found the movie entertaining, Hadfield emphasized the glaring lack of realism. In the film, the characters transition to orbit in just 30 seconds, while Hadfield’s real-life experiences took over eight minutes, subjecting astronauts to substantial physical stress.
“Their engines fire and now they’re rocketing into space, and like 30 seconds later they’re in orbit,” he said. “It took me eight and a half minutes, so they really went fast. They were getting crushed.”
Hadfield also humorously pointed out the absurdity of using a manual transmission (stick shift) in a spacecraft, a stark departure from actual space technology.
“I haven’t driven a Fiero in a while, but I’ve flown some rocket ships and they don’t have a transmission that you shift,” Hadfield mused.
The initial idea of the “Fast & Furious” franchise delving into space was a humorous notion, but director Justin Lin embraced it seriously, even consulting NASA scientists for advice on enhancing the plausibility of the space scenes.
Ultimately, “F9” thrives as a blockbuster movie primarily intended for entertainment. It challenges the audience to suspend their scientific skepticism and immerse themselves in the extraordinary action sequences, even when set on Earth. Despite its scientific liberties, the film does succeed in capturing the emotional awe of witnessing Earth from space, a sentiment that Hadfield commended.
“Suddenly, all the blue is below you, you’re out in the eternal blackness and all of life is laid out there in this beautiful curving arc of the world under them,” Hadfield said in the video. “And I’m really pleased that they put that into the movie, and then portrayed it so well.”