Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Momoa, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson
Release: May 19, 2023
The Fast Saga has seen its fair share of shake-ups over the years: from the drastic transition to blockbuster action-caper extravaganza with Fast Five to the physics-bending melodrama of F9: The Fast Saga, the franchise built on the culture of street racing and cold bottles of Corona is now an entirely different beast. With F9, the earnest camaraderie of the ever-so-large Toretto family reached its thematic peak – not only was the fan-favourite Han back in action, but the introduction of John Cena’s Jakob Toretto meant the saga was approaching its grand finale. As promised by the series’ long-standing frontman, Vin Diesel, Fast X is the beginning of the end for the family: having already ventured to space, the only logical coda is to gather everyone together and witness a hopeful send-off. In the meantime, though, the family faces a new threat and unlikely allies along the way, as Fast X marks yet another milestone in a franchise unlike any other.
As with the previous entries, the main villain has a personal vendetta against the Toretto family – this time, Dante Reyes (chaotic evil Jason Momoa) steps into the ring following the death of his father during the high-octane finale of Fast Five. Fittingly, the opening of Fast X is set 10 years ago, retconning the events of the fifth instalment to add Dante into the bombastic safe-towing climax. It’s a rather effective way to insert a new baddie into the mix, in no small part thanks to the incredibly committed Momoa, who plays his part with the necessary extra oomph of a flamboyant psychopath.
By contrast, the stoic-yet-sweet energy of Vin Diesel remains largely unchanged from the films that made Dom such a recognizable figure in contemporary mainstream cinema. His sincere dedication to the family code and unapologetically tender masculinity has always been the connective tissue for the Fast films, with real-life Vin practically emulating his character off-screen and showcasing his friendship with the rest of the cast members. In more ways than one, this is the only long-running franchise that feels like a true labour of love from everyone involved, be it the people in front or behind the camera.
The most notable (and certainly glaring) omission here is the series veteran Justin Lin, who departed the film a week into principal photography. The filmmaker behind the tenth entry is Louis Leterrier (of the Transporter fame), and the change is evident from the very first frame. Fast X retains its lore-heavy and delightfully over-the-top roots, but the added flair of the French school of action adds a certain chaotic charm – a welcome change to the formula. Albeit, it does feel like Diesel’s hand was firmly on the pulse during each and every second of the filmmaking process – a large section of the film feels like it was helmed by none other than Vin himself, with the most melodramatic notes shining through the CG-heavy NOS sequences.
The globe-trotting DNA of the series is, once again, on full display in Fast X: Rome, Vatican, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Lisbon and London are all left in various states of disarray following the arrival of Dante Reyes, with Rome and Vatican getting a particularly nasty hit with a giant neutron bomb. The franchise has always been known for its fair share of practical effects, and that couldn’t be described better than with a massive steel ball rolling across the streets of Rome, wreaking havoc along the way – it’s the kind of Monster Energy-fueled blast only the Fast films could pull off.
And yet, the charm of the series will always be in its pulsating heart: for all the jokes that Jason Momoa and Alan Ritchson crack at the expense of the “family”, the earnest enthusiasm of the cast and their utter rejection of cynicism make this franchise truly special amidst the onslaught of snarky, self-aggrandizing blockbusters. Where else would you see so many heterosexual men proclaim their love for each other and hug for over 10 seconds? If nothing else, Fast X shows that the saga is still running on a full tank.
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