Who could have imagined back in 2001, that a little B-movie about an undercover cop infiltrating the world of illegal street racing, would spawn nine sequels and a spin-off. But here we are. ‘Fast X’ is upon us. The first in a three-part finale to bring this epic saga of drag racing super-spies to its highly illogical conclusion. There have been some wonderfully ludicrous highs along the way, and a few laughable lows too. ‘Fast X’ sadly falls squarely in the latter.
The plot sees Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew (family) being targeted by a vengeful villain from his past, who nobody knew about until now. His name is Dante, and it turns out he is the son of the bad guy from ‘Fast 5’ and he has an axe to grind with the Toretto crew. He is absolutely psychotic however, and doesn’t just want revenge, he wants them all to suffer in various unspeakable ways. All you need to know about this Dante fella, is that he’s played by Jason Momoa. More on him later.
Dealing with the Dante threat, takes Dom and the gang all over the world into a series of incredibly over the top car chases, with Louis Leterrier (a veteran of vehicular mayhem) now at the helm. One sequence in particular, featuring a huge metal ball bomb, careering through the streets of Rome is a rare highlight. As for the rest of action, it is far too reliant on (some very sketchy) CGI.
As with so many other big budget blockbusters we’ve had to sit through this year, most of the action scenes go on way too long. Which isn’t always a bad thing. A well-directed, perfectly paced action sequence can go on for as long as it needs to, and still be thrilling and entertaining. Look no further than the ‘Furious 7’ Azerbaijani chase, which begins with cars parachuting out of planes and only gets more brilliantly silly over the course of 20 exhilarating minutes. Nothing in ‘Fast X’ even comes close. Just boring, cartoony crap.
Now we all know these films jumped the shark a very long time ago. If you weren’t on board back then, you aren’t going to be on board with this one. I’ve always had a soft spot for these films, especially the spectacular run from ‘Fast 5’ to ‘Furious 7’ which in all honesty should have brought this saga to a close. Those three films were such fun, I could overlook the drop in quality we saw in 8 and 9.
Those two were just as dumb and preposterous as the previous films, but the endless retconning and plasticky action whittled away most of the goofy charm and goodwill that had been built up. ‘Fast X’ however just doubles down on everything bad from the previous two. More characters being introduced, more backstories being rewritten with each passing scene, more table setting for some grand finale being concocted in Vin Diesel’s big shiny dome, and more hideously digital action. The film’s tongue may be firmly in its cheek, but bad is still bad.
You’d think after so many films together, the chemistry between the main cast members would be at the very least believable. I’m not expecting acting miracles, but some sense of familiarity between them doesn’t seem a lot to ask. Alas, the dialogue scenes between Diesel, Rodriguez, Brewster, Emmanuel et al, are just getting worse with each passing film. I zoned out more than once. As for the so-called hilarious “banter” between Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris, it is the perfect storm of god-awful writing, terrible acting, and bad improv from people who think they are funny.
As well as the core regulars, ‘Fast X’ introduces us to a whole new bunch, including Oscar winners Brie Larson and Rita Moreno. Alan “Reacher” Ritchson and Daniela Melchior also join the cast, with Scott Eastwood returning to sub for the absent Kurt Russell. None of them are really given all that much to do, as there’s so many characters already jostling for screen time. However, given the half-arsed performances being phoned in by the main cast, I’d much rather spend time with this lot, even if it occasionally looks like they’re being held at gun point.
Thankfully, soaring above all this dross, is the deranged genius of Jason Momoa. He takes a one note villain role, and turns it into the funniest, funnest, and most deeply disturbing character in the entire franchise. Every time he is on screen, the film becomes watchable. Every time he isn’t, it’s just a boring bowl of CGI soup you will want to drown yourself in. His wardrobe, his mannerisms, his line-readings, are not at all what you would expect. A truly chaotic performance. And the scene with the two freshly murdered corpses. What. The. Hell?
Momoa’s intervention just about saves this from being a one-star film, but it is still the definitive low-point in the franchise. I live in hope that the final two instalments will recapture some of the previous magic, but the road back after this mess is longer than the runway in ‘Fast & Furious 6’.
If you want more of this, the 4K UHD release comes with over an hour of bonus features, including scene breakdowns with Louis Leterrier, and all-new featurettes exploring the new cars and locations used in ‘Fast X’.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Brie Larson, Helen Mirren, Jason Statham Director:Louis Leterrier Writer: Dan Mazeau & Justin Lin Released By: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Certificate: 12 Duration: 141 mins Release Date: 4th September 2023