Synopsis – Dom Toretto and his family are targeted by the vengeful son of drug kingpin Hernan Reyes.
My Take – Despite starting off as a street racing based knock-off of Point Break (1991), back in 2001, with Fast Five (2011), the fifth entry in the series, the Fast and the Furious franchise outgrew its past dealings with car thieves, drug lords and drag races, and evolved into a fully-fledged action fueled international spy franchise rivaling Tom Cruise‘s very successful Mission: Impossible series.
And since then, with Vin Diesel leading the charge, along with a growing roster of supporting characters, every entry has only mounted higher stakes and more absurd stunts, all the while serving its theme of family. Even if makes zero sense that a group of car fanatics with shady pasts have become the only ones standing against global terrorists.
Yet, the series has continuously earned its keep, by becoming more sincere in finding new ways to bring everyone out for their moment in the spotlight, no matter how dumb the reasons got, including a trip to outer space in F9 (2021).
For its 1oth installment, the first in the supposed three part finale (until the inevitable reboot), franchise newcomer director Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk) continues to deliver more of the expected in the form of mindless popcorn entertainment with some of the biggest and most ridiculous action sequences ever filmed. Further confirming franchise lead Dominic Toretto’s superhuman invulnerability.
But while, the film is marred by a rather chaotic and overcrowded plot, its biggest catch comes in the form of Jason Mamoa‘s primary antagonist. Bringing in a new energy and excitement to the series that juices the engine to deliver the goods that fans want.
As this one is clearly the start of a bigger story to come, the film ends fairly abruptly with no resolution at all. Almost like Avengers: Infinity War (2018), however, still leaving one really curious about what comes next.
Beginning with a retcon into the final act of Fast Five, which took place ten years ago, the story once again follows Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), who along with his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and ragtag group of thieves/spies, are enjoying a movement of peace as they continue their social gatherings in barbecues whilst chugging down Coronas and discussing side missions they plan to undertake. With Dom especially enjoying time with his young son, Brian (Leo Abelo Perry), teaching him how to drift muscle cars.
However, their quite time is disrupted when Cypher (Charlize Theron) falls injured on the front door of the Toretto home, warning Dom and Letty of Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), the son of the fallen drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), who has made an elaborate plan to punish Dom and his family for taking away his father and his wealth.
With his first act of revenge being sending Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Han (Sung Kang) on a fake mission in Rome, which ends up framing Dom and his team for a massive bomb explosion, turning everyone including the agency against them. With the agency’s unsympathetic new boss Aimes (Alan Ritchson) determined to bring them down.
Pulling Dom’s numerous old and new allies like his siblings Jakob (John Cena) and Mia (Jordana Brewster), Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), Tess (Brie Larson), Isabel Neves (Daniela Melchior), Magdalene “Queenie” Ellmanson-Shaw (Helen Mirren) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) into the mix.
The film somehow manages to perfectly juggle 4, even 5 sub plots at a time with all the characters getting their own arcs within the 141 min runtime. As expected, the film doesn’t hold back in throwing the impossible at you.
The popular pieces in all the prior films are still here from the fast cars, the hit-and-miss comic relief from Tyrese and crew, laughably meat-headed pathos that is meant to be emotionally stirring, illogical stunts that would make Isaac Newton spin in his grave.
Here, director Louis Leterrier offers an orgy of explosions and car chases demanding minimal emotional investment. If you don’t mind a cycle of preposterous action sequences loaded with VFX not allowing a moment of calm, the film delivers exactly what it promised.
Thankfully, in comparison, he at least takes the proceedings back down to Earth and dispenses with those things and relies on an anarchic tone, swift pacing, and escalating momentum to bring the action goods. The set piece in Rome involving a flaming boulder of a bomb crashing through the city is the film’s peak while the climax involving helicopters and rocket vehicles are fun in their ridiculousness.
From Dom flipping over a car with one arm to driving down a dam Hot Wheels-style, it’s absolutely bonkers. And of course, the signature drag race scene in Rio delivers that thrill that we’re seeking. While the action delivers throughout, the film’s third act suffers from an excess of set-ups, cameos, and minor deaths played up as major losses. Plus nobody seems to stay dead in this franchise either.
There are some big surprises throughout the film, but I’m still not sure how I feel about one of them in particular. It borders on ruining story lines from the past, so there better be a nice explanation in the subsequent film. What’s borderline miraculous is that, despite a cast list that’s on track to soon reach the population size of a small city, director Louis Leterrier keeps everything relatively in check.
He’s taking over here from series regular Justin Lin, who departed several weeks into production, reportedly over creative differences with Diesel. It feels like the only real guidance Leterrier gave his actors was to have fun and be themselves.
Vin Diesel at this point, he is merely the vehicle to keep this franchise moving forward, staring stoically at his new family members that seemingly pop up out of nowhere, and dutifully drift with him. John Cena is on babysitting duty for most of the film, and even though his corner of the story feels as inessential as the other supporters, his comedic chops and chemistry with young actor Leo Abelo Perry make for a welcome change.
Michelle Rodriguez gets sidelined mostly, however, she does share an excellent hand to hand scene with the always great Charlize Theron.
The newcomers, Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, Rita Moreno and Daniela Melchior are essentially cameo appearances, while Nathalie Emmanuel, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Sung Kang are left to their usual. Scott Eastwood, Jordana Brewster, Helen Mirren and Jason Statham too have lesser screen time than one would have anticipated.
Nevertheless, it was Jason Momoa who just stood out over everyone else here. Given free rein to overact as much as he pleases, Momoa lends the film a sense of danger and gallows humor that is refreshing and entertaining. His performance even makes Diesel’s stoic work better as it gives him much-needed weight in terms of stakes. The flamboyance he exuded had me laughing and fearing for the crew all at the same time. On the whole, ‘Fast X’ is yet another mindless and absurd popcorn entertainer anchored by an over-the-top Jason Momoa performance.
Directed – Louis Leterrier
Starring – Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Jason Momoa
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 141 minutes