Updated: Jun 22
The latest in the Fast saga plays it safe, but introduces and electric villain
No movie captured the current state of American society better than Vice (), which in its final scene had Democrats and Trump supporters at each other’s throats, while bystanders obliviously commented on their excitement for the new Fast and Furious film. The Fast franchise has become an excursion to turn one’s brain off, from complicated plots, challenging dialogue, or the simple laws of physics. This escape has proved appealing for those seeking to hide away from the real world’s intricacies. With such demand, the Fast saga is speeding into its eleventh entry (tenth if you discount spin-offs) with Fast X (2023).
Fast X, much like previous recent entries in the Fast franchise, retcons a new villain that is somehow connected to the events of previous films. This time it’s Dante (Jason Momoa), the vengeful son of the drug kingpin who was killed in Fast Five (). As with Furious 7 (), when it was Jason Statham’s Shaw who was seeking to avenge a family member, Dante goes after Dom Torreto’s (Vin Diesel) “family,” including the fan favorites Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), and Letty (Michele Rodriguez). The cast is further bloated not only with returning faces (Charlize Theron’s Cypher, Helen Mirren’s Queenie, Scott Eastwood’s Little Nobody), but with a slew of new characters, Rita Moreno has a near-cameo role as Dom's grandmother, Brie Larson and Alan Ritchson play your obligatory government agents, while Daniela Melchior plays the latest female object.
Fast X is directed by Louis Leterrier, who’s helmed previous films such as Transporter (), The Incredible Hulk (), and Clash of the Titans (). While all those films were self-serious action pictures, Leterrier brings a necessary self-awareness to the Fast saga, taking a step back from the laughable dramatic bent that the previous entries were attempting. As such, the playfulness of past Fast films returns in spurts in Fast X. Curiously, this is largely thanks to the new cast additions rather than the original faces. Ritchson brings some overdue self-deprecation towards the franchise and its “family” theme, but it’s really Momoa who stands out in this regard. Momoa, seems to have been one of the few to grasp what the tone of the Fast films has become, playing up his villain with such glee and manic energy that it’s hard not to laugh and root for him. His character can be seen prancing around as the Vatican is nearly blown up or painting the toenails of a corpse. Momoa brings an unhinged quality to Dante that makes him the real draw and selling point for Fast X, helping it differentiate from last four films, which frankly have all blurred together for me.
Fast X is not looking to win over any new converts to the franchise, with most of the cast and the laughable plot working on autopilot. The action and stunts continue to be ridiculous and fun, and I’ve finally stopped torturing myself in complaining about physically impossible sequences. The action, however, was sadly choppy and littered with shaky-cam shots; and even with a turned-off brain, the horrendous dialogue and plotting seeps its way to face-palming results.
The Fast & Furious franchise knows perfectly well what it is and is not trying to reinvent the wheel (pun absolutely intended). By playing it safe and leaning on franchise tropes (impossible stunts, resurrections, female objectification), it is sure to please those who are already fans of the franchise and continue to haunt those that aren’t. Sadly, this means a continued lack of evolution or invention, but then again, for a franchise with eleven entries that has spanned over twenty years, if it ain’t broke…