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Review: ‘Fast X’ Goes Bigger and Faster

Review: ‘Fast X’ Goes Bigger and Faster

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably seen a film from the Fast saga. Maybe it was the scrappy debut about street racers and a cop who learn to see eye-to-eye, or it’s the one where they drive the car on a disintegrating rope bridge. The Fast & Furious franchise has always held a ubiquitous presence in pop culture. While often mocked for being completely unrealistic and overly dramatic, the fact that the series drifts into these accusations is a big part of why it’s so successful. The highly anticipated next chapter, Fast X, shows absolutely no sign of slowing down, and the franchise is made better for it. 

For those intimately familiar with the Fast saga, you know that while cars are the point, they’re also besides the point. The true star is “Family” with a capital F. This family consists of the Torettos and the allies and loved ones that make up our Fast crew. By surrounding these characters with beloved stars, both domestic and international, Fast saga has created a feast for our senses, and Fast X carries the torch beautifully. 

We have our normal band of bros, Dom (Vin Diesel), Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez who is fantastic in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves), an older Little B (Leo Abelo Perry) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) as well as the welcome return of Sung Kang as Han. We also see our lovable scamp Hobbs Shaw (Jason Statham). And what group would be complete without Roman (Tyrese), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuelle) and Tej (Ludacris)? 

In Fast 9 we met Dom and Mia’s estranged brother Jakob (John Cena), and he’s returned, tasked with carting Little B to safety. There are even more cameos by legend Rita Moreno, Brie Larson, Scott Eastwood, Dame Helen Mirren, and the incomparable Charlize Theron to help (or hinder) Dom on his latest mission, this time with the addition of Jason Momoa as the bad guy Dante. 

So what’s Dante’s damage? Turns out that back in Rio, when the Fast gang liberated a safe and sent it flying down the freeway, one of the unintentional casualties was Dante’s father, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Dante and his father were close, and Hernan passed down a very important message: “Do not allow death when suffering is owed.” Dante has taken this message to heart and has vowed to hunt down the one he holds responsible: one Dominic Toretto. 

This film may be the best one of the Fast saga (though I’ll save my judgment until the final two films come out). It still manages to top itself stunt-wise, even when calling back to previous stunts. Reality no longer exists; physics is but a concept, gravity an option, and anything is possible — especially if you have a car like Dom’s. 

The franchise entry shows three significant changes from Fast 9 that help elevate it and the series. 

First off, Dom and Lettie are separated and allowed to do their own thing. I’m not the biggest fan of the romance between these two, but they are excellent partners. Being able to escape the one-sided hero worship for a while was healthy and a relief. 

The second thing they did was allow John Cena to be funny. When we met Jakob in Fast 9, he was mean and angry, but you could see the heart underneath. There was some speculation that Cena’s humor was toned down to not upstage Diesel, but whatever the reason, the film suffered for it. We know John Cena to be extremely funny and his humor was sorely lacking. Now that he’s firmly inserted back into the family, he’s able to loosen his tie a little bit. The scenes between him and Little B are some of the best of the film. 

Finally, they hired Jason Momoa! Jason Momoa really said, “Category is Villainous Glam” and showed up and showed out. How do you convey utter terror with man-bun pigtails? Ask Momoa; he could teach a masterclass. At first I thought maybe he was doing a bit much, but there’s so much to be said for commitment. Momoa creates one of the most evil, dynamic and engaging villains in the Fast universe. Cypher (Charlize Theron) is awesomely bad in her own way, but she’s more about self-preservation. Dante has absolutely no effs to give, and it’s glorious. He paints his nails cotton candy pink and has pedicure parties with corpses. The man is over the top, and it’s thrilling to watch the Family reason with someone so gleefully unreasonable. 

The runtime is significant, but the time is filled well with very little lag. Another thing I realized is that while I hadn’t actually seen Fast saga films 5–8, the exposition of this film — though heavy handed — is easy to digest and extremely helpful. As with any Fast movie, there are a ton of characters, a lot going on, and each storyline fits into the next well. And the way they set up the next movie isn’t cheap, but it is extremely exciting. 

Of course, you do have to manage your expectations. Fast X is an action film through and through. Vin Diesel aims and misses for emotional depth consistently and there are some overly schmaltzy sentiments, but these small flaws can easily be swept under the run the second Lettie basically plays Double Dutch with her motorcycle. It’s a feast for the eyes and a perfect option when you want to shut your brain off and watch two beefy men go at it. 

I was able to attend a 4DX screening, which introduces immersive elements into the movie watching experience. We were flung around in our seats, and it even snowed and rained. But even without these accouterments the film was a thrillride and must be seen on a large screen. 

Fast X comes out May 19, 2023.

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