A Flawed But Fun Fast & Furious Outing Perfect For The Summer

May 17, 2023

Over the last two decades the Fast & Furious franchise has evolved from a simple movie about street racers into one of the highest grossing franchises in history. Newcomer to the Fast series, Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Now You See Me), takes on directing duties for Fast X, working from a script by Dan Mazeau (Wrath of the Titans) and longtime franchise director Justin Lin. Continuing the story of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family of racers and car enthusiasts, Fast X flips the script by making Dom the target of an old vendetta. Fast X is a breathless thrill ride that occasionally gets bogged down in melodramatic dialogue, but Jason Momoa’s villain makes it a blast to watch.

Fast X’s plot is more of an excuse to jump from one action set piece to the next, with brief interludes about the importance of family that flirt with, but never truly convey, a compelling emotional heart. The story centers around revenge, with new villain Dante Reyes (Momoa) being retconned into the Fast & Furious franchise as the son of Fast Five villain Hernan Reyes. Years later, he emerges to cause Dom as much suffering as possible by creating an international incident and pinning it on Dom’s family, who are then hunted by the Agency for which they previously worked. Though Dom’s family is scattered across the globe and Dom himself does little more than play cat and mouse with Dante, it’s one of the Fast franchise’s more simple and easier to follow plots.

Jason Momoa in Fast X

For Fast X, the more simple storyline works since the movie is clearly more interested in violating the laws of gravity and pushing the boundaries on what can be accomplished in a car. This creates an interesting visual spectacle, with death-defying stunts and exciting, gripping action set pieces broken up by what’s become trademark quipping from its characters. Fast & Furious is a franchise that has become known for its action and stunts and, in this regard, Fast X exceeds all expectations. However, the script by Lin and Mazeau leaves something to be desired, largely because it’s at odds with itself. Fast X wants to be a movie that smirks cheekily at its audience, letting the viewer know they’re in on the joke, but it also wants to have a grounded and emotional throughline. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pull off a compelling balance, waffling between nudge-nudge wink-wink jokes and soapy dialogue about family. It’s almost, but not quite, a parody of itself.

Still, the film is by no means a slog to get through and a big part of that is the delightful deviousness of Momoa’s Dante. While Diesel plays Dom at the character’s most stoic and, as a result, most boring, Momoa has enough personality to carry the main antagonistic relationship of the movie. The actor is very clearly having a blast in the role, playing the flamboyant villain to Diesel’s unflappable hero, and he makes Fast X a much more entertaining watch than it would have been without his performance. However, with so much screen time dedicated to Dante, it’s less spent with the other members of Dom’s family. While most get moments to shine, John Cena’s Jakob is perhaps the next most entertaining of the bunch, getting a fun storyline as he protects Dom’s son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry). The rest of the cast is perfectly fine, but Fast X clearly starts to show the cracks of the Fast franchise’s tendency toward too-large casts.

Vin Diesel and Daniela Melchior in Fast X

For all the issues with the script, Fast X is still a solid entry in the Fast & Furious franchise, offering what viewers have come to expect — over-the-top action sequences and brief moments of familial sentimentality. It’s very much the Avengers: Infinity War of this franchise, putting a great deal of focus on the villain, splitting up the heroes and ending on a cliffhanger. Because of the cliffhanger ending, Fast X does feel a bit unfinished, but with Fast & Furious 11 already confirmed, we at least know we’ll get some answers in the sequel. It’s a risk to end a movie this way, but in a franchise that flouts the rules of gravity and storytelling all the time, it makes sense for Fast X.

Fast X is certainly a must-watch for any die-hard fan of the franchise. Though it may not live up to the heights of some of the franchise’s past films, it’s an entertaining action thrill ride from start to finish, one that will surely keep you hooked. Even casual viewers will find entertainment in the action set pieces, and thanks to flashbacks, it’s fairly easy to jump into Fast X even for those who might have missed a previous movie or two. Though it’s a little bit more over-the-top even in a franchise known for this very thing, Fast X is another fun and exciting ride tailor-made for the summer movie season.

Fast X releases in theaters May 19. It is 141 minutes long and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material.

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