FAST X Jason Momoa, 2023.
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film ‘Fast X’ review: Huge ‘Fast & Furious’ finale explodes into view with outrageous new villain

‘Fast X’ review: Huge ‘Fast & Furious’ finale explodes into view with outrageous new villain

FAST X Jason Momoa, 2023.

Justin Lin may no longer be in the driver’s seat of the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise, but his fingerprints of success are all over ‘Fast X.’ The tenth – and most outrageous installment ever – in the ongoing fast-moving franchise delivers on its promise of high-octane thrills while very clearly setting up a finale to the huge series, entering every living player from its past into the race . Even though Lin’s abrupt departure put the fate of the franchise in jeopardyFrench director Louis Leterrier has a solid command of explosive and heart-pounding action scenes to get the film rolling.

Building on homages to past stunts (such as Diesel’s Dom Toretto exiting a moving plane) and surprise appearances from long-lost characters, the film sets the stage for a possibly three-part finale (as Diesel indicated). Whether she has any new tricks up her sleeve remains to be seen, though it’s unclear if that matters to her many diehard fans.

Following the mantra of go gigantic or go home, “Fast X” rallies its many disparate characters against a shared enemy. (Nevermind that some of the more forgettable ones would have been better left alone.) Operating on the adage that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” this installment brings together previous rivals to stop a demonic psychopath who will stop at nothing to teach Dom the painful lesson that he can’t save everyone.

It must be gospel in Hollywood for every leading man to revere and study Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance of the Joker, demonstrated by Jason Momoa’s outrageously flamboyant portrayal of the evil villain Dante. Often laughing maniacally at his own evil genius, Dante drives a purple car and sports silk pants and purple fingernails, because: “It tones down the masculinity, which we all need these days.” This winking nod to the changing norms might be less complicated to appreciate if it weren’t said while giving a bunch of dead bodies pedicures. Instead, Universal is engaging in the oldest trick in the book, using feisty (read: queerness) to signal the psychopathic supervillain. Set against the furious paternalism of Dom Toretto’s singular guiding purpose of protecting his family at all costs, the moral edict is crystal clear.

Resurrecting the former genetically engineered villain from his own lair, the real action begins when Charlize Theron’s Cipher appears on Dom’s doorstep to warn of an evil the likes of which the world has never seen. “I always thought it was me,” she admits, perhaps to the audience. “So that was pretty disappointing.” She arrives at Dom’s family mansion bleeding and wounded from an ambush, in which she single-handedly fought about fifty dudes with nothing but her fists. Rambling into her headquarters, Dante in an instant turned her safety against her by kidnapping all of their children. With Dom’s son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry), it’s clear who Dante’s target, if any, is (and where the action is headed).

“Fast X”

Now 12 and able to sustain his own B storyline, Brian gets his own mini road movie while on the run with his Uncle Jakob (John Cena). Introduced as the half-hearted villain from “F9,” Dom’s long-lost brother fits much easier into the family as the good guy he was always meant to be. Charged with keeping Brian safe, he and the little boy embark on a charming little side-adventure that offers a sweet diversion from the flashier antics. Cue adorable hijinks surrounding the nostalgic magic of mix tapes and cursing lessons.

The same can’t be said for the other members of the extended family, though they certainly start things off with a bang. Launching an operation in his namesake city, Rome (a confusing choice), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) leads the dream team of longtime favorites Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sun Kang) and hacktivist Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). But the work for hire ends up being a trap set by Dante to lure Dom to their rescue. When a truck of what they think are computer chips ends up carrying a huge bomb, suddenly a simple heist turns into a mission to save the world.

Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, smooth as ever on her signature motorcycle) arrive just in time to literally avert the fall of Rome, starting the film with an epic Italian chase scene that looks like the “Bourne” movies on steroids. Even if they narrowly avoid catastrophe – and without casualties! — Dante’s plan to involve them in a terrorist attack in Rome works, and Dom and his family suddenly are unwelcome people to the CIA. Once Roman and crew go into hiding in London, their meager action languishes under the pressure of being comic relief, as well as meeting old friends (Jason Statham’s The Shaw) and new ones (Pete Davidson?!).

With their old CIA contact Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) mysteriously in the wind, Dom and the family find themselves the target of unsympathetic new boss Aimes (Alan Ritchson). Luckily, Dom is rescued by a rogue agent determined to fulfill her father’s legacy, a cheerful but competent Brie Larson as his new CIA ally Tess. Taking on her new dickhead of a superior Aimes, Tess tracks Letty to a remote covert ops site, reuniting her with her old friend Cipher for an epic escape and survival plan.

With Dante’s fixation on proving to Dom that family isn’t forever motivated by his backstory, it’s only natural that the climactic battle ends in an epic chase for Brian’s survival. Dom has to make some sacrifices along the way, but not before once again landing a race car from a moving plane and driving at full speed down the side of a Hoover-sized dam. The action works, but the film’s third act suffers from a glut of set-ups, cameos, and minor deaths interpreted as major losses. After all, they have (at least) two more to go.

Grade: C+

Universal Pictures will release “Fast X” in theaters on Friday, May 19.

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