Fast X Review | Vroom, Vroom, Boom, Boom

by Andrew Parker

Fast X is the tenth movie in a franchise that has inexplicably gone on longer and more ridiculously than one might’ve expected when its initial instalment debuted (rather modestly, in hindsight) over two decades ago. The ongoing saga of electronics boosting street racers straight out of a Point Break clone who would go on to become some of the most tech savvy, enigmatic super-spies in the world has had it’s share of ups and downs along the way, but chances are viewers have already made up their minds as to whether or not they want to keep up with the ongoing exploits of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his all star cast of extended “family,” so Fast X is almost as immune to review at this point as slasher film franchises were back in the 1980s or the Marvel Cinematic Universe is today. You’re either with it or you aren’t, and for those who are on board, Fast X is an absolute blast.

Fast X runs things back to its most successful and rejuvenating entry, Fast Five, as the son of the ruthless Brazilian billionaire they ripped off is coming for revenge. The ruthless, sadistic, and well connected Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) doesn’t merely want revenge upon Dom and all his various comrades. He wants to bring unparalleled suffering and hardship to Dom. And in typical franchise fashion, it’s all done in the most jaw dropping, physics defying, ludicrously action packed ways possible.

There might’ve been some early doubt about the overall entertainment level of Fast X, following the unnecessarily meta ninth entry and the thoroughly underwhelming Fate of the Furious before that. After the franchise’s delightfully entertaining run across the fifth, sixth, and seventh films, the Diesel led franchise seemed to be out of creative gas. Part way through production of Fast X, co-writer and frequent director Justin Lin bowed out, leaving this entry to be finished up by Now You See Me and The Transporter 2 director Louis Leterrier. That, combined with a budget that’s up there with some of the most expensive films of all time, suggested that Diesel’s vision for the franchise had finally gotten out of control. That might be true to some extent, but Fast X suggests that if the series is coming to an end, it will go out on the highest note possible.

Leterrier knows his way around ridiculous action sequences, and he’s relishing in the chance to mount some unparalleled chaos this time out with a seemingly unlimited budget. The action is fairly relentless this time out, leaving little time for the now wildly over-plotted mythos of the franchise to get too much crazier than it already is. Fast X knows where its strengths lie: in letting everyone involved go as big and bold as they possibly can, either behind the camera or in front of it. The results are thoroughly exhausting, but in the same way that a raucous barbecue can leave one feeling satiated by the time it wraps up. Fast X is the cinematic equivalent of meat sweats.

Plenty of familiar faces are back again to do their thing, including some well placed cameos cropping up along the way to keep things lively. Everyone gets their chance to shine along the way, with John Cena giving a noticeably looser and more likeable performance here as Dom’s now loveable goof brother, erasing any notion that he was the villain in the previous instalment. Fast franchise newcomer Brie Larson comes ready to play in this overcrowded sandbox, and even though she’s under-utilized amid all the chaos, she at least got the memo about what type of movie she signed up for.

But what raises the bar exponentially for Fast X – even more so than its always impressive action beats – is Momoa, who gives all he has to the cause here. His performance amounts to the best villain this series ever had by a insurmountable margin. Momoa’s Dante has all the energy of a psychotic, entitled, gender fluid twelve year old with daddy issues and an unlimited supply of Red Bull. He has the tenacity of the paperboy from Better Off Dead, the resources and theatricality of a Bond villain, and the vibe of someone who has all of The Dark Knight memorized. It is a dazzling, maximalist performance for a maximalist movie; precisely the kind of turn this sort of material deserves.

I can absolutely and without regret say I that had fun with Fast X – definitely more than I did with the last two movies – but your mileage may vary. The increasing ridiculous of this series might’ve moved past its apex and is on the downhill side for some of its faithful devotees, but it’s a series that’s determined to careen out of control all the way to the bottom, blowing the hell out of everything in its way. Like I said, you’re either with it or you aren’t.

Fast X is in theatres everywhere starting Friday, May 19, 2023.

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