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With F9 speeding into theaters this weekend, the summer movie feeding frenzy has finally begun. After being pushed back from its original premiere date by over a year, fans of the Fast and Furious franchise will finally be able to witness the latest entry in the Toretto family's tale. And family is still very much a running theme in the series, even after the team's transition from street racing to launching a Pontiac Fiero into space, which, yes, actually happens.
As Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays tech genius Ramsey, told SYFY ahead of the film's premiere, the family is "growing... We go on this crazy, crazy journey, but we also have this whole history of the family that the fans don't know about."
**This story contains mild spoilers for F9.**
That Dominic (Vin Diesel) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) have a long-lost brother named Jakob (played by John Cena) isn't a surprise to anyone who tuned into the film's many trailers or teasers over the past year and a half. However, that doesn't mean Dom's too happy to see his baby brother after all these years. We won't get into the how and why of Jakob's disappearance (and sudden, seemingly inexplicable reappearance) to avoid too many spoilers, but the family dynamic is still very much there, especially for Brewster's Mia.
"The message of the film is that family is not just about blood ties and it's not just about what you're born into," Brewster explained. "It's about what you make of your family and it is about loyalty and proving that you deserve to be a part of the family."
On a personal level, Brewster has redefined for herself what "family" means over the years: "It means something larger. It means who puts the time in, who's gonna be there, and so it's become, 'Oh, I get the message of the Fast and Furious franchise more than ever,' 20 years later at 41 years old."
Mia's relationship with Jakob is complicated, but very much that of a kid sister looking up to her big brother, just like she's always been with Dom — even when they decide to be stubborn and nurse decades-long grudges.
Jakob isn't the only addition to the Fast family this time around either. With the highly anticipated return of Sung Kang's Han, who audiences had thought dead since 2013's Fast & Furious 6, comes another new honorary family member: Anna Sawai's Elle. Again, spoilers abound when talking about Elle, so we won't get too deep into how she fits into the picture, but when we sat down with Kang to get his take on F9's family dynamics, he explained that "when you're younger, you don't really know what the value of family is. It's easy to talk about it but I think until you start losing family in your personal life, you don't really appreciate it.
"I've been really lucky that I got to grow older with Han, away from the camera, to be able to put my life experience into older Han in Fast 9," he added.
You can learn everything you want to about Jakob, Elle, and the ever-growing Toretto "family" by catching F9, now in theaters.