Review | Fast X (2023)
“Feeling exactly what it is, an opening chapter, Fast X is an exciting, high-octane movie that fans will lap up.”
Fast X is the start of the end of the road for the main franchise. After twenty-two years and now on its tenth movie, the saga is on its final lap. For something that started as a heist movie involving fast cars and street racing, it has evolved into something quite different. Now we go into the movies expecting to see ludicrous stunts and action that entertain us while knowing that it isn’t to be taken too seriously. Fast X easily slips into the same kind of mold. But in doing so, throws us back four movies at times to events in Fast Five.
By now, everyone knows that the main villain, Dante Reyes, is the son of Hernan Reyes, the villain of the fifth film. With an opening that replays the climax of that movie, this tenth chapter brings us a revenge movie that encompasses everything we’ve come to know and expect from a ‘Fast’ film. At times, it feels akin to ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ with the characters being separated for almost all of the proceedings. And with various story threads to keep ahead of. But that means that some characters get sidelined a bit too much.
Dominic Toretto must protect his crew and family from Dante Reyes, the son of drug lord Hernan Reyes. He is seeking revenge for the loss of his family’s fortune from the heist in Rio de Janeiro.
The film proves the old adage, too many cooks spoil the broth. Never has a truer word been spoken with this tenth film. It struggles under the weight of having such a large ensemble cast that many stars get left by the roadside. And in some cases, that is almost criminal in itself. Some of the big names that appear have fleeting cameos, to be honest. While some appear, only to then vanish without a trace. We find ourselves thinking about where these characters are, and why they don’t appear that much.
The main focus is, of course, on the conflict between Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and Jason Momoa’s Dante. But that leaves the rest of the cast scrambling for screen time. In places, it begins to feel like a reunion movie with certain characters being brought in at the opportune moment. This though sees them then be sidelined until much later. Two of which are Michelle Rodriguez and John Cena. Of the pair, Michelle Rodriguez gets the most screentime. While Cena appears, does some stuff, and vanishes again, only to appear almost at the film’s end. We feel shortchanged.
The film is, as already stated, the opening chapter to the big franchise finale. But there is so much crammed into this first film, we find ourselves wondering what else they can bring to the table next time. Huge, epic set pieces are the franchise’s forte. And In this respect, the film doesn’t disappoint. With an epic chase through the streets of Rome, a denouement along the same bridge from the climax of Fast Five, and some really bone-crunching fight scenes, we are not shortchanged.
Jason Statham contributes to the fight scenes the most, as you would expect, but even Michelle Rodriguez and Charlize Theron get in on the act. In fact, their fight is one of the highlights of the film. Their smackdown has been a long time in coming, and when it arrives, it doesn’t let us down. The intertwining stories are good but leave our crew in different parts of the world. And again, that’s a pity because we have come to see the crew together for this last ride.
The cast that we have come to know and love are all here, easily fitting back into their roles. Vin Diesel slides into the driving seat again and provides us with an emotional as well as action-packed performance as Dom. The story between a father and his son, and the lengths he will go to to keep his child safe are in evidence throughout. Michelle Rodriguez, despite her limited screen time once again impresses us as Letty. As does Tyrese Gibson as Roman, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges as Tej, Sung Kang as Han, and Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey. While newcomers Brie Larson, Daniela Melchior, and Alan Ritchson do manage to crash the party.
Getting the short shrift includes Jason Statham, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, and Rita Moreno. Helen Mirren makes a very brief appearance as Queenie. She appears alongside Diesel for one scene before vanishing from the film entirely. Statham gets a good action scene before he is set aside for his own storyline which will be explored in the next film. Cena, Eastwood, and Charlize Theron also get their moments, however brief to shine. But Jordanna Brewster and Rita Moreno are completely wasted in what are nothing more than cameos.
Jason Momoa though is a revelation. His performance as Dante is something that must be seen to be believed. At times nasty, evil, despicable, and a true threat to Dom and his family, the next campy, hilarious, and chews the scenery with aplomb. To be honest, shave off his beard, slap the makeup on him, and he would make a great Joker. When we first meet him, he is his father (a nice cameo from the returning Joaquim de Almeida) right-hand man. The newly filmed inserts that drop Momoa into the climax set the story up for the character and give a good storyline to move forward with.
But the character wouldn’t be as good as he is without a great performance. And Momoa is in great form here. He is the MVP in the entire film without a doubt. Just when you really want to hate him, he comes out with a killer line or comedic performance that stops you in your tracks. The street racing sequence when he first introduces himself to Dom gives the audience a look inside Dante’s mind. And gives us one of the best laughs in the film. Momoa completely kills it in his villainous role, and we can’t help but look forward to his return in the eleventh film in 2025.
THE DIRECTION AND LOOK OF THE FILM
The film is directed by Louis Leterrier from a screenplay by Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin, based on a story by Mazeau, Lin, and Zach Dean. Leterrier was a last-minute directorial replacement for Lin after he decided to step away from the director’s chair. And he pulls it off with ease. You’d never think that having three days to get on set and direct proceedings that he would make it so effortlessly. Yet he does an amazing job handling the duties. He knows exactly how to frame his shots, how to get the best out of his actors, and to make the film look as good as it does.
The look of the film is terrific, with all the bright colors and contours, making the various locations look wonderful. The streets of Rome look more beautiful than ever, London looks incredibly beautiful, and Los Angeles looks like a million dollars. Every shot has been crafted masterfully. The film has this going for it. However, the CGI does detract from the visual look of the film at times. Not every CGI shot hits the mark. In fact, some look incredibly fake. We have seen some ropey special effects in the franchise before but this time, it is more evident than ever.
The screenplay plays perfectly into events from the fifth film onwards. Several characters are mentioned with several story arcs coming full circle. These I shall leave you to discover as any discussion about them would tip us into spoiler territory.
Brian Tyler returns to score the film, making this the seventh film in the franchise that benefits from his music. And yet again, he has hit top form. Every note and every chord fits the movie perfectly. No spoilers but early on in the film, Tyler adds an instrumental reprise of a certain song from earlier in the franchise. Hearing this piece not only gives us an emotional moment remembering it from where it fitted before, but it also makes for the perfect accompaniment to what we see on the screen. The score is full of exciting moments throughout but it is also balanced with some brilliant music that flows along with the more emotional moments.
Feeling exactly what it is, an opening chapter, Fast X is an exciting, high-octane movie that fans will lap up. It isn’t perfect by any means but that shouldn’t detract the audience from getting a kick out of what the movie contains. Of course, as reported, it does feature footage of the late Paul Walker in his role as Brian from Fast Five alongside some archive photographs of him throughout his time in the franchise. This adds to the emotion that we will feel during proceedings. His absence is still heavily felt throughout, but thankfully the writers and producers haven’t seen fit to have his character killed off as of yet.
There are surprises along the way. Rumors have been flying for a while now about certain things and certain individuals that will pop up in the movie. To find out if there’s any truth in these rumors, you’ll have to find out for yourself. The cliffhanger ending leaves things up in the air for all concerned but unless they pull out some of the biggest shocks ever seen in the franchise, we can guess what will happen in the next movie. An enjoyable popcorn flick for the whole family, Fast X is great entertainment without being the best movie in the franchise. But all in all, it proves there is still plenty in the tank, and more mileage left for us to travel.
Fast X is distributed by Universal Pictures and will be in theaters from Friday, May 19th. Book your tickets NOW!
Carl Roberts is the News Editor for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!