Vin Diesel and co.’s commitment to the lore and ever-evolving expectations for the Fast & Furious series is truly unmatched to any other franchise in Hollywood at the moment. Diesel is a man who knows what the people want, and knows that these films need to continually topple one-another in terms of stunts, action, and characters – and from the moment that Fast X starts, it’s evident that Vin is trying to pull-off his own Infinity War of sorts with just how many characters and plotlines he brings back to the forefront for the finale.. well, the beginning of it, anyways. The film begins recapping the events of 2011’s Fast Five through the eyes of this film’s antagonist Dante (Jason Momoa), the son of Fast Five‘s villain Hernan Reyes. In what was a glorious payday for Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family in Rio that day serves as the complete opposite for Dante; it’s the day that he lost his father, his money, and his family’s entire empire. Because of this, Dante vows vengeance against Dom and his family – kicking off a whole lot of elaborate action sequences, races, and just about any other gravity-defying stunt you can imagine.
Fast X connecting back to the events of Fast Five feels like a relatively smart move from the moment the film opens, not only because it is unanimously considered to be the best film of the franchise but it really was the film to kick off this new era of Fast films; it truly set the tone for what all the subsequent films would try to be like. A lot of why this narrative decision works is due to the absolutely bonkers and genuinely phenomenal performance from Jason Momoa, who is truly chewing the scenery and steals the scene every time he appears. Not only is Momoa a blast to watch as his joy and enthusiasm is truly infectious, but he finds a great middle ground to also be an intimidating and genuine force of nature for Dom to go up against; almost like the Joker in a weird way where he just makes their lives a living hell with a whole lot of chaos. He’s easily the best villain of the entire franchise.
It’s been no secret that the film had a bit of a rocky production with director Justin Lin leaving just a short amount of time into filming and being replaced by director Louis Leterrier. I’m not certain how much of this film would be different with Lin behind the camera, but I can honestly say that I expected a film with that sort of dilemma to feel way more choppy and uneven than it does. After how ridiculous F9 became after a certain point with Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) going to space, Fast X at least attempts to bring them back down to Earth and make it maybe.. 20% more grounded? While I very much enjoyed F9 for what it was, it is nice to see a Fast film take itself seriously again in terms of stakes and story. The way Leterrier shoots these action sequences is genuinely impressive and enthralling, especially a set-piece that takes place in Rome which stands out as one of the franchise’s best action sequences to date.
The cast continues to share some really fun and delightful chemistry with each-other, as Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris share some of the films’ funniest moments and Charlize Theron and Michelle Rodriguez have a pretty fantastic action set-piece and fun little subplot together here that finally puts a good use to Theron’s character Cipher. The new additions to the family this time around are particularly fun as well, as performers like Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, and Daniela Melchior come in and deliver some really solid performances that fit well into the ever-evolving story. However, the biggest surprise for me here was that of John Cena, who has proven himself to be a really talented actor in the last few years, but with F9 it felt like he was really subdued and void of his general charm. If it wasn’t for Jason Momoa stealing every sequence he was in, I’d be tempted to call Cena the stand-out of this film – he adds a lot of unexpected heart to the film, as well as really nails a lot of the films’ best comedic moments.
As previously stated however, it’s really Vin’s show here – as he’s truly trying to emphasize the finality of what’s to come in Fast X Part Two, as he is truly flexing all of the vast characters and over-arching storylines he’s been building up over the last twenty years. So with that being said, If you’ve been checked out from the implausibility of the franchise for a while now, Fast X certainly won’t be the film to win anyone over – it is a Fast & Furious film through and through, with even more outrageous stunts and the necessity for suspension of disbelief being at an all-time high; but at this point in the series, it genuinely feels endearing to me that these films have truly become this large-scale and outwardly bonkers. There’s something so comforting about the fact that these films will continue to defy expectations and logic at every turn, and you know what? If they continue to be this entertaining, I’ll take all that I can get.