Fast food, fast women and the Fast and Furious film franchise have one thing in common – they will never be regarded as high quality, but having them brings on a high level of satisfaction and happiness that few others can provide.
And the latest, Fast X, also known as the tenth installment of the mainline Fast and Furious franchise, or more jokingly regarded as “FasTen Your Seat Belt” brings back all the highly unrealistic and improbable action sequences, lack of a plot whatsoever, and revolving door of character revisions and narrative tropes that make telenovelas read like Shakespeare, into one highly entertaining, eye-rolling, laugh out loud summer flick that no one asked for, but you also shouldn’t miss.
By all accounts, this movie should be a mess, since director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) made his franchise debut only a week after former director and franchise architect Justin Lin exited production, but to his credit, Leterrier does his very best to manage an ever increasing number of actors in the franchise that started out as a street race movie, but ended up as a heist film disguised as a spy caper.
And one reason for the success of Fast X, aside from going bigger, louder and more insane that the last one, which actually brought a car blasting across space ala Star Trek, is with new villain Danta Reyes, played with flash, style, aplomb and perhaps just a bit too much melodrama by Jason ‘Aquaman’ Momoa. Maybe he knows that the movie doesn’t need another snarling bad guy who can drive, but a flamboyant threat who dominates the screen each time he appears as an over the top criminal mastermind that would put James Bond’s rogues to shame.
From his constant zingers and one liners (“I’m Dante, enchanté.”) to his many chichi outfits, Momoa hams it up for the camera, comfortable as the mastermind behind the wheel, the criminal with the gun, or the revenge seeker who loves to bun up his hair and paint his nails.
With a link to Fast 5, the film actually tries admirably, but failing rather spectacularly, to retroactively introduce a man who has spent the last 10 years developing and executing a plan of revenge against those who killed his father, and he’s after everyone in the family that Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has cobbled together including Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), Han Lue (Sung Kang), and Jakob Toretto (John Cena), while also picking fights with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Cipher (Charlize Theron), Magdalene “Queenie” Ellmanson-Shaw (Helen Mirren) and Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood).
And joining the global fight are franchise newcomers Brie Larson (Tess), Alan Ritchson (Aimes) and Puerto Rican acting legend Rita Moreno as Dom’s grandmother, Abuelita. The plot of Fast X is a disjointed mess that trots around the world from the US to Rome, and Rio to London, and includes framing Dom and his team for a terrorist attack that, well, isn’t anything new to the franchise.
After watching cars drop from the sky, soar across cliffs and even zoom into space, you would think that you’ve seen it all but Leterrier is determined to string action sequences together in some attempt to piece together an action film, and for the most part, it succeeds. It starts off with a car chase across Rome with a massive bomb rolling across the city, followed by street racing in Rio, some crazy highway mayhem that involves reversing out of a flying cargo plane, the take down of two helicopters, and even escaping an explosion caused by two oil tankers traveling in a head-on collision.
Nothing is sacred in the film, not even science, and up to a point, you have two choices to make – park your brain at the entrance to the cinema, or remember a time when you were playing with toy cars and conceived elaborate scenarios and even more ludicrous escapes to spend your time. For Leterrier, it just so happened that the studio gave him a lot of money and a chance to turn his childhood fantasy into a film that apparently, is only the first film in a franchise-ending trilogy.
The only thing the Fast X story can’t do is keep the family together. While Dom is off chasing Dante, Letty is fighting Cipher in an attempt to escape a secure facility. Meanwhile, Han, Roman, Tej and Ramsey are hiding in London, and end up having to approach Shaw for help and yes, that’s the same Shaw who killed Han in cold blood, and it really makes no sense that Shaw and Han would end up fighting upon meeting face to face. At times, the movie feels like watching events unfold for different pockets of people, but these stories don’t necessarily converge towards the end.
This might sound crazy, but the family trope works when the characters are together to support each other and when they aren’t helping each other directly, the movie falls apart somewhat and lacks the familial closeness that Lin brought to his films in the series. Does it even make sense to say it?
Then again, does it make sense that Letty would fight Cipher before making a prison break? Or that Mia would leave Jakob and her nephew, Brian (Leo Abelo Perry), and never reappear, leaving the duo to escape to an airport and depart the plane in mid-air with a glider, only to get caught barely 10 minutes after arriving at some highly secure site?
In some ways, the action in Fast X is so batshit crazy but satisfying, you cannot help but laugh at the zaniness of it all, and the next action sequence trumps the one before, and dials things up several notches.
Does it matter that gravity, physics and common sense aren’t well regarded in this outing, but that very same disdain towards events on camera also provide a high level of satisfaction the moment you hear bones break when a bare fist connects with a well protected soldier? Or a car falls from a moving plane and lands on two other cars, causing them to flip but the falling car manages to drive away unmolested? And then it does these amazing things again and again, practically making it well, a Batmobile on steroids.
And speaking of comic books, it’s amazing how many comic book superheroes have traded their costumes to appear here, including Peacemaker, Captain Marvel, two Aquaman, Groot, Clea, Ratcatcher, Wonder Woman and Black Adam!
And that’s because the one way to truly embrace Fast X, is to understand that this is not a mere action movie, spy flick, adventure film or comedy. The Fast and Furious franchise has come to embrace and challenge every cinematic cliche out there, to make it its own. From long lost family members who appear out of nowhere, villains who change sides faster than melting ice cream on a sunny day, to good guys who are actually bad guys all along, nothing about the series is logical but it sure is entertaining.
And in case you’re wondering, the movie does end with several cliffhangers and they are all a doozy. A betrayal sees members of the family go down in flames, as the remaining members are spread out across the world and we’re not sure if they are dead or alive. At this point, anything can happen and because this is that type of film, there are two major surprises at the end of Fast X.
We won’t spoil it for you, but the first revelation comes towards the end, and when the character smiles, your brain will freeze and you’ll start to wonder why, even as you consider the possibilities. The second is a post credits scene that, if things fall nicely in place, means a massive superhero team-up and showdown that franchise fans have demanded and we’re this close to seeing this in the next follow-up that has gone from being a duology, to a three part finale.
No one can deny that a conclusion to the series is what we deserve, but if fan service and popcorn entertainment were ever to become markers for creating fun movies, Fast X would serve as the best and worst example that satisfies completely.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
FasTen your seatbelts because this insane ride is intense and incredulous, but ridiculously satisfying on so many different levels.
Story - 7/10
Direction - 8/10
Characterisation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10