Fast X: Review
Dominic Toretto and his extended family of racing mavericks face off against a daunting foe from their past in Fast X.
Few could imagine how 2001’s The Fast and The Furious would spawn a generational franchise. The street racing film catapulted from humble origins into becoming a box office phenom, showcasing a refreshing blend of diversity and swagger in its pursuit of high-octane thrills. Eight sequels later, the Fast franchise continues to evolve in compelling ways. Fast Five introduced Dwayne Johnson and a renewed emphasis on gleefully implausible driving setpieces.
Soon after, Furious 7’s electric escapism culminated with a powerful tribute to the passing of longtime series regular Paul Walker. This moment captured the cultural zeitgeist for a good reason; it peeled back the artifice of movie screens and captured the sentiments of a creative team reeling from an unexpected tragedy. The genuine emotion aching onscreen helped shape a remarkably resonant moment that could connect with anyone gutted by a loved one’s passing.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, who cares about Fast and the Furious anymore? To many uninitiated viewers, the franchise only stands as a noisy excuse for vehicular mayhem tied together by goofy references to family. It is true; the films offer an onslaught of explosive carnage, and there is an array of sentimental speeches about family values.
That said, I do think there is a special recipe behind the franchise’s success. I always marvel at the sincerity that runs deep through the Fast and Furious legacy. The affection shared by the cast and crew of these films is an infectious energy that radiates off the screen. There is also a sly self-awareness streak that has only grown with each entry. With the plot and setpieces only getting more implausible, everyone involved embraces the madness with a spirited, tongue-in-cheek delivery.
For viewers buckled into the long-running series, Fast X provides more of the same breathtaking entertainment. A splash of new additions alongside the brand’s long-running appeals helps form another gleeful blockbuster spectacle for the fast brand.
I consider Fast X to be a noticeable improvement over the dull eighth entry, Fate of the Furious, and the fun yet inconsequential Fast 9. A big reason why is the arrival of menacing villain Dante Reyes, who comes to life through the charismatic magnetism of Jason Momoa. The Aquaman star chews the scenery like no other, delivering a colorfully maniacal performance that takes center stage throughout the narrative. He is in perfect lockstep with the franchise’s jokingly self-serious approach. Whether he is spewing out over-written lines like “never accept death when suffering is owed,” or indulging in chaos with a Joker-like anarchical edge, Momoa’s dedicated work provides the franchise with its best antagonist to date. In addition, franchise newcomers Brie Larson and Alan Richardson deliver swagger to their roles as field agents following Dominic’s trail.
Including a new perspective behind the director’s chair also infuses new life into the proceedings. Justin Lin previously served as the franchise’s marquee voice, directing five films across the Fast series, including its best entries, Fast 5 and The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. His impact on the brand is undeniable, yet Louis Leterrier makes for a fitting replacement with the latest entry.
The Transporter director injects his visceral kineticism into the mix, showcasing a skilled hand in imagining outrageous action on an expensive budget. The hand-to-hand combat is elevated through dynamic camera movements and sharp choreography, while the onslaught of car setpieces continues to up the ante in enthralling ways. It’s a blast seeing the latest hot rods race across the screen with reckless abandon. Leterrier and his team dream up some fittingly implausible sequences here, including Dominic pushing a bomb Rocket League-style through the Italian streets and taking down multiple helicopters with one swift driving maneuver. I get it; it’s ludicrous, but that is part of the charm here. I credit Leterrier for seamlessly embedding himself into the franchise and its outlandish aesthetics.
Even with several new flourishes, much of Fast X retains a comforting air of familiarity. Vin Diesel’s soft-spoken presence and distinctive gravitas remain ever-present as family patriarch Dominic Torretto. Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris continue to trade light-hearted barbs as Roman and Tej. Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham and John Cena pack a movie star punch in their respective roles, and franchise favorite Sung Kang retains his suave aura as Han. The returning players share a richly lived-in bond that genuinely personifies the franchise’s focus on familial ties. As the series ages, there is a sense of nostalgic wistfulness lingering under the surface. Everyone involved appreciates the journey they have shared together and is well aware that their collective story is nearing the end of its road.
Is Fast X perfect? Certainly not. The narrative’s growing scale leads to a bloated 142-minute experience that wanders more than it should, with the film often jostling between subplots that vary in effectiveness. This mixed bag of detours eventually concludes with one of the most baffling cliffhanger endings I’ve seen in recent memory. It was so jarring that I thought the film projector had broken down, although an excellent post-credit scene somewhat makes up for the bewilderment.
It won’t be for everyone, but Fast X delivers the rousing jolt of nitrous-fueled speed that fans of the brand have come to adore. Just don’t go in expecting Shakespeare.
Fast X is now playing in theaters.