One podcaster I’m a fan of called FAST X a “desecration of movies”. Now he’s admittedly not a fan of the franchise and stated that upfront. So, his opinion may be a bit colored. Ok, it’s definitely obscured by a haze of tire smoke. But I was also starting to wonder if the franchise had any legs left at all. FAST 9 was just awful. I thought John Cena’s Jakob was an unbelievable villain. The revenge against Dominic Torreto and his family felt overwrought, especially since Jakob is Dom’s brother. You blamed him for your father’s death so you want to kill him and take out the world along the way? (I admit I watched Fast 9 once and never again so my plot recollection may not be the best). No. Just no.
I wasn’t even sure I wanted to sit through another one of these. I have one major problem with the Fast and Furious franchise and it’s the way they handled Paul Walker’s death. They really didn’t. There was a nice emotional end to FURIOUS 7 which showed Dom and Brian taking one last ride together. But they never explained why the character just vanished. He’s mentioned a bit in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS but he has just vanished with no explanation. There was an opportunity to address it in some fashion but they chose to just disappear Brian. It gnaws at me whenever I watch one of the movies made after Walker passed.
But I am here for you movie fans. I will sacrifice brain cells and swallow my objections for you. You’re welcome. So, I sat down on a Monday afternoon to see if they could win me over again. Well, I don’t know if I’m 100% back in. But this went a long way to smoothing over my relationship to the franchise.
FAST X hits all the beats you expect. Wild car stunts, some practical others using CGI. Trying to save Rome from a bomb, a street race in Rio de Janeiro, a cannon car, dropping Dom’s Dodge Charger onto a Portuguese highway from a military cargo plane, and racing an explosion down the face of a dam. Damn. There’s Dom trying to protect his family who are constantly at risk. There are the captures, the wild escape plans, Roman and Tej bickering, Letty getting in a punch up. Different, and sometimes interesting variations on the usual themes.
What set this one apart though was Jason Momoa. He plays Dante Reyes, the son of the corrupt Brazilian police chief (commissioner?) from FAST FIVE. And he is completely bonkers in this. He has Bond villain energy that this franchise doesn’t usually have. He has schemes that are about 7 layers deep and is constantly using Dom’s ethos against him. Just when you think Dom has him… nope. He’s just backed himself into another corner designed by Dante. His motivation isn’t just some macguffin (see God’s Eye in 6). This is purely revenge. But he doesn’t want to kill Dom, he wants to make him suffer. He does it by targeting Dom’s family. It’s kind of borrowing from 7’s Deckard Shaw motivation. But while Shaw was methodical in this case, Dante is completely unhinged.
The cast is the cast. Too long to mention here. Everyone is hitting the same notes they have for 9 other movies (give or take since Vin Diesel. Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster are the only three left from the first film). That’s kind of what we expect from them, right? We don’t come to this to watch emotional growth from the family, we come to watch them drive fast cars off mountains or onto them.
Louis Leterrier (The Transporter and Now You See Me) takes over for Justin Lin. Lin co-wrote the screen play with Dan Mazeau. It’s fine. Some of the dialogue is incredibly stilted. Again, not what we’re here for. It was surprisingly funny, funnier than 9.
Two pretty good additions to the cast were Brie Larson and Mr. Nobody’s daughter and Alan Ritchson (Reacher) as the new head of the Agency. Pete Davidson also has a miniscule part for some unknown reason.
Overall, this was a nice return to form and it’s a very successful form.
Ok, now let me sound the claxons and put this in bold… SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! If you don’t want to know some of what happens, set this aside, watch the movie and come back later.
Everyone is back for this. And when I say everyone, I mean even people we thought were dead. Or people we thought promised never to work with Vin Diesel again.
There’s a mid-credits scene with Dwayne Johnson showing up briefly as Agent Hobbs. Then after Letty and Cypher (yes, and this time she’s with the good guys), escape from a black site prison in Antarctica who is there to pick them up? Freaking Giselle (Gal Gadot) in a submarine. Do you have to die in real life to get out of this franchise? There’s more. Ramsey, Tej, Roman and Han need cars and guns so they find Deckard Shaw who is in the film for a few moments then sets off on a quest to protect his mother (yes Helen Mirren’s Queenie) and we never see him again. And speaking of Queenie she just magically appears in Rome after the team stops the bomb from blowing up the Vatican and are declared fugitives. Then there is the ending which is the worst type of cliffhanger. Dom and his son, Little Brian drive down a dam to escape exploding fuel trucks but then Dante sets off a timer that will blow the dam… and cut to black… credits. Given the movie made $300 million overseas, there’s zero chance there’s not another one coming. But man, that was quite the bold move to end it with your star’s life in the balance.
Was this in fact the desecration of movies? Well, on some level sure. It’s ridiculous, brainless and uber violent. But these days that is what gets people into theaters. If they come for this, then maybe they’ll also come for a Wes Anderson or Paul Schrader movie. Hey as long as they are going to the theater I’m not going to complain.
One thought on “FAST X”
I miss the days when it was just about the cars!