With a franchise as critic proof as the Fast and Furious movies a new instalment elicits a heavy sigh.
For those of us who write about movies, what is there you can possibly say about those where cars leaping between skyscrapers or sports car jaunts into space are delivered as perfectly reasonable?
As with the Saw movies, the only way to possibly review Fast X is to compare it to the other nitro-laden muscle cars in its own garage.
In a way, new director Louis Leterrier (drafted in after a ‘creative differences’ split with Justin Lin, director of five films in the franchise) makes it easier for us.
With its switch from street racing to heist raids, Fast Five is held up as a high point for the series, and Fast X retcons itself right into that movie’s plot.
What Is Fast X About?
Shortly before Fast Five’s villain, Hernan Reyes, is taken out thanks to the questionable use of a large metal safe as a pendulum weapon, his son Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) is inserted to create a legacy revenge plot.
The effect is somewhat jarring, as Leterrier chooses to lift whole scenes from the earlier movie in order to establish weight; it’s a while before Fast X finds its own footing.
The problem with constantly upping the ridiculousness stakes (resulting in F9 not only ‘jumping the shark’ but ‘jumping the Earth’) is that you paint yourself into a corner.
With no real outstanding set piece of its own, Fast X goes for relentless pulverising of your sense of reason.
A rolling nuclear bomb careening through the streets of Rome threatening to blow up the Vatican is chucked out just as an appetiser, stakes be damned.
In the absence of particularly satisfying action what is left are the characters. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is the same sleepwalking man of cars and family as ever.
Momoa steals the show by living large in every scene he is in, perhaps comforted by a contract that will keep him in the sequel instead of getting the ‘creative differences’ boot that appears to be the fate of anyone who upstages Diesel.
Fast X Official Trailer
Is Fast X Worth Watching?
Momoa pitches Dante within the area of blockbuster baddies that haven’t been seen much since the 90s, i.e. comically evil. He may even have twirled his moustache at some point.
Considering the franchise is still clinging on to ultra serious tech mastermind Cipher (Charlize Theron) and the main cast swing from ‘existing’ to ‘camera mugging comedy’ then some camp villainy at least keeps the whole thing from collapsing in on itself.
Yet even within a franchise where the enjoyment is deliberately centred around letting the increasingly daft spectacle wash over you, there is something too work-a-day about Fast X.
It’s like an over keen host who invited the street for a house party but keeps turning the music up because no one seems to be having quite enough fun.
Fast X lacks a naturalistic spark which most of the series since Fast Five has, to their credit, managed to conjure up from somewhere.
With lumpy physics defying visuals and a cast most going through the motions, Fast X is little more than a placeholder preparing the ground for the big series ending finale that is to follow.
By all rights the tanks of nitro carrying these movies over the finish line should have been long spent.
But you know perfectly well that there is always mysteriously enough left for one more button press: who knows what Fast Elevenses (or whatever they’ll call it) will bring.
Words by Mike Record
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