Moving Pictures
May 22, 2023, 06:27AM

Dom Fast, Dom Long

Fast X is a mediocre effort for the series.

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As the years go on, the Fast and Furious movies become bigger, louder, and in most cases dumber. They’re more crowded, and even more unmoored from the laws of physics, as well as any qualms that may have once existed about bringing characters back from the dead.

Now there’s Fast X, the first in what’s promised as the final trilogy of Fast films. Once again starring Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto and his usual gang of drag racers-turned-international super-spies, Fast X extends almost all of those recent trends, bringing its cast well into the dozens, including cameos from both familiar characters and new faces played by recognizable actors.

Fast X has a lot going for it: a plot that builds on Fast Five, which is the best film in the series, and the best villain these movies ever had. The car chases are first-rate, still finding creative if not plausible ways to hurl cars at people, off mountains, and sometimes at each other.

The film’s consistently hilarious, although only some of the humor is intentional. One character gets a fantastic speech about the series' tendency to take its antagonists from previous movies, especially when they're law enforcement, and add them to the team of good guys in time for the next mission. That’s the case here with John Cena, the previous film's supervillain, who’s back on Team Famil. Diesel gets to deliver his usual intense dramatic monologue about the importance of family, and… it's hard not to laugh.

On the other hand? The hand-to-hand fight scenes are entirely  shaky-cam style, and it's awful. The extreme car chases are filmed clearly, with a strong sense of space, so why not do the same thing when it's just two people having a fistfight? And the film’s messy and over-plotted. Longtime fans likely remember 2012’s Fast Five, in which gangster Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) kept his money in a giant safe, a la Scrooge McDuck's money bin, and Dom and Co. dragged it through the streets of Rio and killed Reyes for good measure. Dante Reyes is his son, out for revenge, and played by Jason Momoa in a flamboyant fashion that recalls Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow.

Fast X begins with the team drawn to Rome for a mission, and falling into a trap laid out by the villain. It later jumps all over the globe, from Los Angeles to Rome to Rio to Portugal, as well as the obligatory "Undisclosed Location," although by the end the location is disclosed. It's established that Dante has a penchant for kidnapping the children of his adversaries, indicating that Dom's 10-year-old son Brian (Black-ish veteran Leo Abelo Perry) is going to find himself in serious peril. That kid suffers enough trauma over the course of just this movie  including the part where he's essentially used as a child soldier—that it would likely keep him in therapy for decades.

Alan Ritchson, the enormous actor from the Jack Reacher TV show, shows up as a secondary antagonist and breaks the previously unattainable record of having the biggest muscles of anyone in a Fast and the Furious movie. Fast X was directed by Louis Leterrier, the French director of the Transporter films, as well as Now You See Me and Clash of the Titans; he stepped in for the franchise's signature director Justin Lin, who was originally slated to direct but stepped away.

In all, it’s a middling-to-strong effort for the series, although likely to give Fast fans everything they want from one of these.


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