We review the tenth instalment of the shockingly durable Fast Saga, Fast X, featuring the return of Vin Diesel and company.
PLOT: Dom (Vin Diesel) is forced to reckon with his actions when the psychopathic son (Jason Momoa) of a past enemy goes after him and his “family.”
REVIEW: Fast X is meant to be either the first of a two-part finale or the beginning of a series-ending trilogy. The original plan was for two movies, but according to Diesel and much of the cast, there might still be more fuel in the tank for this long-lasting series. Having seen Fast X, the two-movie plan makes sense, but a trilogy feels like a bridge too far as, while fun, Fast X is too thinly plotted to serve as the first film in a trilogy. While no one can doubt this is an action-packed thrill ride which, thankfully, improves on the mostly disliked F9, like most films that are set up as the first half of a longer story, it’s never fully satisfying in the way some of the better instalments of the series are.
One such entry is Fast Five, which remains the gold standard for many. The premise for Fast X hinges on that movie’s events, centring around Jason Momoa’s Dante, the psychopathic son of that movie’s main body guy, Hernan Reyes. Seeking revenge on Dom for the infamous vault heist, he’s bent on ripping apart his family, with his main goal being to take Dom’s son, Brian. Given the personal stakes between the two men, it’s no surprise that virtually the entire supporting cast is sidelined here. Sure, it’s setting up a finale where everyone, presumably, will get their chance to shine, but the series has always been at its best when it works as an ensemble. Diesel has to carry the film this time, and the result is mixed.
One thing the movie does have going for it is Jason Momoa. Relishing the chance to play a bad guy and chew some scenery, he’s easily the best villain the series has ever had. He’s undoubtedly the most evil, gleefully leaving a trail of bodies. The only problem with this is that Dante, who’s supposed to have been wiped out financially by the Fast Five heist, somehow has nearly God-like powers, with unlimited resources at his disposal,. He’s also being an evil genius that’s always supposed to be one step ahead of the Fast Family who, especially since the fifth film, has been set up as perhaps the world’s most skilled squad. They’re so smart they were able to improvise a rocket ship to space, yet they can’t outwit one psychopath?
No matter, suspension of disbelief has always been the most important thing about these movies, and if you find yourself saying “how” too often, the movie isn’t doing its job. Director Louis Letterier does a good job filling in for Justin Lin, who departed the film early in the shoot. Letterier has a long history in action flicks, and he keeps the pace pretty propulsive despite the lenghtly 140 minute running time. You’ll never be bored; he knows how to keep things moving.
Again though, my big problem with the film is that too much of the cast is left with nothing to do. A lot of the running time is centred around Dom, on his own, trying to figure out how to stop Dante, and he’s separated from the whole group for virtually all of the film. Aside from one early scene where they all share a couple of Coronas at a BBQ, Dom rides solo Of the gang, Letty, once again played by Michelle Rodriguez, is being set up for the biggest role in the next film, with her on a mission of her own that puts her together with Charlize Theron’s Cypher. This continues the series’ funny recurring motif where bad guys become allies when a worse threat emerges, no matter how evil they were in their respective films. The two of them have the movie’s best action scene, where they have a pretty nifty hand-to-hand fight that had the audience I saw this with cheering.
However, Tyrese’s Roman, along with Ludacris as Tej, Sung Kang as Han and Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey, have shockingly little to do, as they spend most of the film on the run trying to find Dom. Jordana Brewster and Jason Statham have even smaller roles, with them virtually contributing cameos, although Statham’s Deckard is clearly just being set up for the next movie. Only John Cena gets a substantial part, with his Jakob no longer the baddie he was last time (in F9), with him a heroic, doting uncle to young Brian.
Speaking of the other Brian, famously played by the late Paul Walker, he’s still supposed to be alive in the Fast Saga, but they need to do something to address why he’s ultimately out of the action. They should have killed him off as it makes no sense narratively that the former hero of the series would stand down any time his Fast Family is threatened, especially with his namesake nephew in constant, mortal danger here. I’m not saying we need a CGI Paul Walker coming around to save the dat, but maybe it’s time to give the character some kind of dignified exit. Weirdly, they all keep referring to him as being around…
Ultimately, the big issue with the movie is that it’s all sizzle, no steak. So much of it is just set up for the next, bigger and better instalment. They’re trying hard to be Avengers: Infinity War here, but that movie was still satisfying in its own right, whereas Fast X isn’t really. Some new cast members, such as Brie Larson and Alan Ritchson, are stuck with embarrassingly thin roles. Larson, in particular, is wasted in a part that serves as little more than a setup for Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody to presumably return in the next film. The movie ends with a bunch of teases that are supposed to pump the audience up for the next one, but as the credits roll, one can’t help but feel as though the movie was just one big long tease.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/fast-x-review/