The Fast and the Furious franchise is something special. It’s as over the top and ridiculous and outrageous as any series out there. That’s part of the charm for those of us who consider ourselves part of the Fast Family. And, admittedly, the frustration for those who aren’t fans. But those on the outside are missing out. This series is so much fun, and Fast X represents not only a return to form, but a high point for the franchise.
As the saying goes, “You can’t outrun your past.” And in Fast X, the past comes calling, with a vengeance. In Fast Five, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew took down Brazilian drug lord Hernan Reyes, culminating in his death and the loss of his massive fortune. Unbeknownst to the audience at the time, Reyes had a son, Dante. Ever since that fateful day, Dante (Jason Momoa) has been crafting a plan for revenge. And now the time has come. He’s going to meticulously destroy Dom’s life, and the lives of everyone he loves. And Dante’s going to make it hurt. As we hear him say in the trailer, “Never accept death when suffering is owed.”
At this point, 10 movies into the mainline series and 11 overall, you’re either in or you’re out. Fast X is not going to convert any new fans, and it’s not trying to. But again, we’re 11 movies into the series, so that’s more than fair. Like the better movies in the franchise, Fast X leans hard into what makes a Fast movie a Fast movie. And it’s better off for it.
The hallmark of any great Fast movie is the action. Yes, that includes some fight scenes, but we’re mainly talking about the car chases, the explosions, the massive-scale set pieces. After only one watch, I don’t know that I can say Fast X has a scene that can top iconic moments like the vault heist from Fast Five or the “Cars don’t fly” scene from Furious 7 (my personal favorite).
But it just may have the best collection of set pieces of any movie in the series. There are several scenes that are simply awesome, there’s no other way to put it. You’ll be laughing along with the absurdity unfolding on screen. And if you’re anything like the audience I saw it with, you’ll be clapping and cheering along the way as well. In other words, yes, everything here is completely ridiculous, but in the best ways possible. With the signature disregard for plausibility and the laws of physics, the action and stunts are as fun as they’ve ever been.
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With the action and stunts firing on all cylinders, everything else is just gravy. Fast X brings back a huge roster of characters, while also introducing a few newbies. The three main new additions, aside from Momoa – Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, and Daniela Melchior – get a little bit lost in the shuffle. While Ritchson’s character was always going to be one-note, it felt like Larson and Melchior’s characters had more to offer. But it’s business as usual with the rest of the Toretto crew.
The script allows everyone at least a moment or two to shine. But with how expansive the cast is, some of the character work can feel a little thin at times. We’re nitpicking here, though. Most of the characters are already well-established enough that not everyone needs a big arc, or has to show significant growth.
And that brings us to the pièce de résistance: Jason Momoa. As great as the action and stunts are, as fun as the cast is, Momoa is what takes Fast X to another level.
I honestly don’t know if anyone has ever had more fun with a role than he clearly had with Dante. He’s dialed up to 11 the entire time and he’s an absolute riot. Dante is savvy, sadistic, flamboyant, psychotic, and sociopathic. He’s a perfect fit in this world. And he’s the main reason why Fast X is the best in the franchise.
#FastX is what Nicole Kidman is talking about when she says “We come to this place for magic.” pic.twitter.com/nIsymwPjKQ
— Matt Hambidge (@MattHambidge) May 16, 2023
The villains in this series don’t often have much of a chance to flash. They don’t always have a ton of personality, at least not when compared to the rest of the characters. It hasn’t necessarily actively hurt the other movies. But it has limited their ceiling. Momoa, for arguably the first time in the franchise, is a villain that elevates the rest of the movie. Dante is hands down the best villain in the Fast series.
Lastly we have the themes behind all the action and mayhem. Namely, you guessed it, family. Your blood family, found family, family you lost, you name it. That’s been the through line of the entire series. And while it’s an important theme, it can get a little old and repetitive. None of the Fast movies really have anything to say about family that at least one or two (or more) of the other movies haven’t said already.
With how hard they hammer the family theme, this could wear on some. But it’s such an agreeable view – who’s going to argue against family being important? – and everything else is so fun and entertaining, it’s relatively easy to look past.
If you’re buying a ticket for Fast X, you already have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting yourself into. And if you like the Fast series at its most outrageous, then you will have a blast with Fast X, with Jason Momoa assured to be the highlight for most. Do yourself a favor and see it on the biggest screen possible with as full a theater as you can find.
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