TL;DR – A high-octane blast from start to finish, with a bombastic style that only this series can pull off.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film
Warning – There are many flashing lights in this film
Fast X Review –
If you had asked me which new film from 2001 would spawn so many sequels that you could legitimately call it a Saga, it would not have been The Fast and the Furious. I mean, it was not a bad film. Indeed it was an interesting spin on a standard narrative setup. But I struggled to connect with the series until I watched Fast Five. It was then that I got it. I bring this up because we might be at the 10th film, but we are diving back into the past.
So to set the scene, we open ten years in the past as Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) rip a vault out of a police station and onto the streets of Rio de Janeiro. It was a great success, but in the process, they kill Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) and knock his son Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) into the bay. Ten years later, Dom is teaching his son Brian Marcos (Leo Abelo Perry) how to drive, and all is well with the family when a knock on the door reveals a wounded Cipher (Charlize Theron). She warns him that someone is out to get him and his family, which is a problem because Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Han (Sung Kang) are in Rome, and no one can contact them.
We are here for a Fast & Furious film, which means asking the question: How are the action scenes? Thankfully the film wastes no time in delivering as we chase through the streets of Rome chasing a bomb that crashes through nearly every famous monument on its way to destroying The Vatican. We see cars doing things that cars should not be able to do, we get explosions and destruction, and we get a sequence that unbelievably does not kill anyone. Beyond its visual style and technical work, that shows the best combination of practical stunts and digital artistry. I liked that this action scene had a narrative point because it split the team up and sent them their separate stories. Rome is the first action scene, but by far not the last.
For a film that opens with the gang saving The Pope, I was surprised by just how fun this ends up being. Much of this falls on the hands of Jason Momoa, who is delighting in every moment he is on screen. Someone in the process told him to have fun with the role, and he took that as a challenge, and the film is so much better for it. This is good because one of my concerns going into this was that I have seen Momoa in various shades of hero, from gruff to noble. However, I had not seen him go full-villain; he is a charm and an excellent comparison to the stoic Dom. With the other new players, I would have liked to see a little bit more given to Brie Larson’s Tess. It was a good start but needed more. Daniela Melchior was a great addition as a link back to the past, and I think Alan Ritchson was perfectly cast as Aimes. If you have seen Reacher, you will know why.
One of the significant strengths that the film has is that it gives every character a moment to shine during the runtime, and given how much this world has expanded, that is a lot of cast members to give them due. I think it helps structurally that everyone gets split up into groups after Rome so that you can have some smaller character moments in this big ensemble film. Well, I say small, but then Jason Statham pops in, beats some people up and leaves, but you are completely captivated the whole time. I liked John Cena getting to give big best-uncle energy with Brian. The banter between Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Cipher was a delight, and it was nice to see Cipher be a bit more of a rounded character this time around.
Where things don’t stick the landing, unlike a car dropping out of a plane, is in the dialogue. Look, this series has never been a fan of subtlety, and sure, wear that on your sleeve. However, some of the dialogue exchanges ignore subtlety for eye-rolling drabness. Of all the divergent plot threads, unfortunately, the gang ending up in London was the weakest. I am sure Roman becoming a leader worked on paper, but in practice, it dragged to its conclusion. I think some of the pre-production issues played a part here. Also, it is hard to build your narrative crutch on “you can’t save everyone” in a series that has never been that stressed with keeping its dead characters dead.
In the end, do we recommend Fast X? Yes, we would. It is rare to see a film that understands what it is and plays entirely to it. It has strong action beats, exciting characters, and a complete disregard for the notions of physics. It also even had some surprises that had audience* members gasping. They pull off their Empire Strikes Back moment, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here. If you liked Fast X, we would also recommend to you Ambulance.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Fast X
Directed by – Louis Leterrier
Screenplay by – Dan Mazeau & Justin Lin
Story by – Dan Mazeau, Justin Lin & Zach Dean
Based on – The Fast and the Furious by Gary Scott Thompson
Music by – Brian Tyler
Cinematography by – Stephen F. Windon
Edited by – Dylan Highsmith, Kelly Matsumoto, Laura Yanovich & Corbin Mehl
Production/Distribution Companies – Original Film, One Race Films, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, Perfect Storm Entertainment & Universal Pictures
Starring – Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Leo Abelo Perry, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jason Momoa, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, Daniela Melchior, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Rita Moreno, Ludmilla & Luis Da Silva with Pete Davidson, Joaquim de Almeida, Paul Walker, Gal Gadot & Dwayne Johnson
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12a; United States: PG-13
* It was me, I was the Audience members.