I have to start this review by being straightforward with you all. I am not a Fast & Furious aficionado. In fact, I am embarrassed to admit I have never watched one. With Fast X, the tenth film in the storied franchise, hitting theaters this week, I decided to break my streak. Heck, maybe I’ll start from the beginning! However, before I do that, let’s begin with the task at hand. Fast X. Is it a high-octane joy? Or is this franchise running out of gas? Read on!
Fast X rejoins Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his “family.” All is going well and according to plan until the son of a former adversary (Jason Momoa) comes on the scene with a thirst for vengeance. Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Brie Larson and Alan Ritchson co-star in the movie, among others. Louis Leterrier directs Fast X from a script by Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin.
I would be neglecting my duty if I didn’t start with what everyone is thinking. Jason Momoa? Jason flipping Momoa! The franchise newcomer hits the screen fast and furiously, stealing the picture out from under the established performers around him. It’s quite the heist.
As Dante, Momoa brings a manic and villainous performance, tapping into iconic characters like “The Joker” at their most bizarre. He brings a winking sense of fun to a man with no boundaries or impulse control. He is terrifying and unhinged at points, but simultaneously, he’s a charismatic joy to watch.
Momoa jumps into Dante’s fluidity with complete ease. He’s perfectly comfortable with the film’s humor, most of which rests on his shoulders. However, he’s equally capable of tapping into a terrifying evil that hangs over the narrative. Nothing seems too far for this man.
Fast X’s blend of performances is interesting in that no one seems to be in the same movie. Momoa and a number of the supporting players are having an absolute blast. There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek comedy, and this is when the film is at its best. There’s a sense of fun in the awareness that this is supposed to be a big, shiny popcorn film. In these moments, Fast X knows precisely what it is and leans into the delightful chaos.
However, as the film switches gears from these larger-than-life figures to Dominic, the movie slows down. Vin Diesel is the stoic protagonist holding the film together. He is the lead, after all. He’s one of the few remaining figures tying Fast X back to 2001’s initial entry, The Fast and the Furious. Toretto and his message about “Family” is undoubtedly the heart of this big, brash movie, but at some level, it is also the stuff of parody. At this point, the tonal inconsistencies only slow down the story and shine a light on problem areas that aren’t as visible when Fast X leans into its over-the-top nature.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. The action. This is what we’re here for, is it not?
Of course, Fast X knows the assignment. Gravity means nothing. Death, it seems, doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot, either. The action scenes are big and bold, walking a fine line between the practical 1980s effects we know and love and the CGI needed to drop a car from a plane and everything in between. The stunts will never be a weak element here; it’s just essential you’re not looking for realism.
Ultimately, the biggest struggle with this movie is the script. Yes. It’s Fast X, so it’s hard to argue that it’s a huge distraction. Moments between action sequences are loaded with big speeches and occasionally clunky exposition dumps. The overarching goal seems to be filling in 22 years of history for those who (like me) are new to the universe. Now, this strategy works, and I never felt lost. However, certain speeches are glaringly clunky, especially those delivered by less-than-seasoned performers.
With Fast X, the Fast & Furious franchise enters rarefied territory. Few series make it to 10 entries, and Fast X does it with panache. Grab some snacks, sit down and enjoy the ride with this one. It’s easy, it’s a heck of a lot of fun and there’s a lot to be said for a movie like that. Embrace the chaos.
Fast X opens today in theaters around the country.
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