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Fast X Review

May 19, 2023 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Fast X Image Credit: Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures
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Fast X Review  

Directed By: Louis Leterrier
Written By: Dan Mazeau, Justin Lin, and Gary Scott Thompson
Runtime: 141 minutes
MPA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material

Vin Diesel – Dominic Toretto
Jason Momoa – Dante Reyes
Michelle Rodriguez – Letty Ortiz
John Cena – Jakob Toretto
Charlize Theron – Cipher
Jordana Brewster – Mia Toretto
Brie Larson – Tess
Alan Ritchson – Aimes
Jason Statham – Deckard Shaw
Tyrese Gibson – Roman
Ludacris – Tej
Nathalie Emmanuel – Ramsey
Sung Kang – Han
Daniela Melchior – Isabel
Rita Moreno – Abuela Toretto
Leo Abelo Perry – Brian Toretto
Scott Eastwood – Little Nobody
Helen Mirren – Queenie Shaw
Joaquim de Almeida – Hernan Reyes

The Fast & Furious franchise reaches its milestone tenth entry in Fast X. Ever since the franchise expanded and started bringing back characters from the original, it became a box-office powerhouse. The action grew increasingly more absurd. The films were interesting because they always walked a balancing act of over-the-top, action-packed outrageousness with weird, machismo charm bordering on camp. Some of that is still present in Fast X, but unfortunately, it’s not as balanced as previous films.

Fast X ties events back into the movie that truly established the franchise as one of Hollywood’s preeminent blockbuster action franchises with Fast Five. As it turns out, the whole time, Reyes had a son Dante (Momoa), who was present during the heist led by Dom Toretto (Diesel) in the fifth film that left his father dead and their criminal empire toppled. So for the last ten years, Dante has been plotting his revenge against Toretto and the “Family,” and he’s ready to execute his plan.

Dante’s first act is acquiring Cipher’s (Theron) bleeding-edge tech and mercenary employees, provoking the cyber-terrorist to seek the aid of Dom and Letty (Rodriguez), who currently enjoy wedded bliss as parents to young Brian Toretto (Perry). Unfortunately, they soon realize the CIA mission in Rome they sent Roman (Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsey (Emmanuel), and Han (Kang) on is a trap. Dante’s plot frames Dom and the rest of the Family as the most wanted fugitives on the planet, forcing them apart. Dante appears to have all his bases covered, and he’s ready to use every resource at his disposal to torture Dom and tear the Family apart in Dante’s quest for vengeance.

The specter of Justin Lin looms heavily over the film. Louis Leterrier doesn’t have the subtle, gentle, and personal touches Lin could have provided certain moments throughout this film. The balancing act of the numerous characters and subplots proves too much. The major plot twists and reveals peppered throughout Fast X are poorly staged and executed. Parts of the movie look hastily cobbled together with a rough CG veneer.

Now, the contradiction of all this is that Fast X does have its entertaining, silly, and fun moments. There is still copious action, and sometimes the charm of Dom and the characters shines through. The action sequences are outrageous, over-the-top, and nonsensical, but they still have a weird sense of fun and kinetic energy. What is contradictory about the Fast and Furious franchise is that the series appears to be in on the joke at times, and there is a level of self-awareness to the absurdity, but in Fast X, the franchise veers closer to unappealing self-parody. The other members of the Family are not offered anything compelling to do as Dom seeks to locate Dante, and Jakob (Cena) plays babysitter for Brian. The scenes with Roman, Tej, Ramsey, and Han are generally pointless and add little more than slapstick comic relief.

Han’s presence symbolizes how badly the studio missed the boat on the “#Justice4Han” campaign. Fans wanting justice for Han was not about bringing Han back from the dead. The fans were upset with the notion that Deckard Shaw (Statham) became a good guy and a new hero for the franchise after deliberately murdering a member of the Family. Fans wanted the films to address Shaw’s crimes and answer for them. Instead, the franchise solved this by making it so Han never died in the first place. With Letty already coming back from the dead, this is a card the franchise has played one too many times.

Additionally, Sung Kang looks bored and miserable throughout this film. His one big moment is a perfunctory scene where he eats some spiked “fun muffins” that he’s specifically warned not to eat, but he eats them anyway. No wonder Kang looks so disinterested in his return from the dead. Even the much-anticipated confrontation with Shaw lacks coherency.

That aside, Jason Momoa as Dante Reyes is easily the highlight of Fast X and the franchise’s best overall addition. Dante is a refreshing change of pace as the devilishly flamboyant, psychotic, charismatic, and sadistic Dante. Momoa is constantly hamming it up, but he’s in a gigantic, lumbering action movie, so it makes sense. Dante’s opulent, gleeful style visually represents the best parts of the Fast and Furious franchise. Momoa is the biggest source of entertainment throughout Fast X‘s disjointed, overstuffed plot.

Fast X does have its fun parts, and Momoa’s turn as a bad guy is easily the highlight. Unfortunately, the goofy charm of the Family fails to overcome a messy, overstuffed plot that is so bloated it had to be split into two, perhaps even three, parts. There isn’t nearly enough nitrous oxide gas left in the tank.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Fast X takes the franchise much closer to unappealing self-parody after many years of expertly walking a tenuous tightrope. Jason Momoa delights in a clunky, messy, overstuffed, and bloated plot. Some of the copious action is still fun in an absurd, ridiculous way, but the franchise can no longer rest on its laurels. There are now too many characters and subplots underserved by disjointed, clunky storytelling. Major reveals and subplots are poorly executed. Longtime fans of the franchise will very likely still find much to enjoy. There is still a level of ridiculous fun aspect to Fast X, but it doesn't pull off the balancing act as well as previous films.