Fast X [Film Review]
Released: May 18th, 2023
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jason Momoa, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, John Cena, Jason Statham, Sung Kang, Alan Ritchson, Daniela Melchior, Scott Eastwood, with Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson and Rita Moreno
It’s sometimes hard to fathom that I’ve been watching this franchise since I was in high school back in 2001, but it’s safe to say as I’ve grown in those 22 years, so has the budget and premise of each Fast and Furious entry added to the saga. Some still hold up to this day, while others (2 Fast 2 Furious, Tokyo Drift) offer a tongue-in-cheek reflection of a time when we all wanted lowered cars with neon lights and spoilers the size of Tasmania.
In the early beginnings, the cars were the stars of the show, and over time, the attention changed to a more wholesome and emotionally connectable theme in the form of – Family.
We’ve seen the memes, we cringe at the references throughout – seriously, if you take a shot every time Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) says “Family”, your body would probably shut down from liver failure – but we keep coming back because the blockbuster, action-packed and star-studded flicks are so completely outrageous and over the top, they’ve become a parody of their own storyline and basis – but fans lap it up every which way they can.
Fast X begins with a throwback to 2011’s fifth entry to the series Fast Five – don’t worry, this section talks about what happens at the end of that film, and the first 10mins of X – where we flashback to Dom & Brian’s vault heist scene in Rio de Janeiro. Turns out the vault owner (drug lord Hernan Reyes) had a son who was also present during the climactic/explosive bridge finale, which saw Hernan come to his demise thanks to the Fastest Family alive. Dante Reyes (played by the ruggedly dreamy Jason Momoa) was actually present too! He survived the battle and is hellbent on seeking revenge for the death of his Papa – only he doesn’t want Dom and co. to die instantly, he wants to make them suffer – and he well and truly delivers on that promise throughout the film’s 2h21min duration.
Now, because these films have gone down the route of the MCU, all flicks are incestuously connected in some way shape or form. So if you recall franchise entries from Furious 7 to F9 (they really went all in with the branding in the titles didn’t they) then that should be the bare minimum for you to understand what’s going on now… The movie kicks off with Dom teaching his now-adolescent son Brian Marcos (played by uber cool Leo Abelo Perry) how to drive his infamous muscle car, with plenty of gusto and life lessons included, before the pair reunite for a FAMILY gathering at the Toretto house with the crew. All the fan favs are back including Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), a new addition with Dom/Mia’s grandmother Abuelita Toretto (Rita Moreno) and a very much alive Han Lue (Sung Kang). Some wise words and sombre reflections on the past – involving those not with us anymore (with a touching tribute to the late Paul Walker) – are served up with a bucket of Coronas, while the team discusses plans for an upcoming mission in Rome, which will see Roman taking the lead for the first time.
All seems well before bedtime until Dom is met with a surprise (and bloodied) visit from Cipher (Charlize Theron) at his front door, warning him that the devil [Dante/Mamoa] is on the scene, looking for blood. Turns out the mission in Rome was a setup and he’s determined to break up the Fast FAMILY for good. Without a second to waste, Dom and Letty hit the road, leaving Dom’s boy ‘B’ with sister Mia, where they’ll totalllly be safe on their own, right!?
Upon arriving in Rome, we’re met mid-action scene with the crew attempting to heist from a moving truck, which turns out, is being remotely controlled by Dante and his team of thugs. Inside the truck is a bomb that is set to blow up the Vatican (is that really a bad thing!?), so the gang must do everything in their power to prevent that from happening – which results in an edge-of-your-seat game of cat and mouse throughout the hills and streets of Italy. If you’re an avid video gamer, you’ll laugh thinking about this sequence, and how it’s a hell of a lot similar to the gameplay in Rocket League – but in real life. The team manages to save the day (by a bee’s penis) but not before Letty is taken into custody, where she spends the majority of the rest of the film.
Because of the commotion in Rome, that now puts a target on the FAMILY, and The Agency (formerly lead by Mr. Nobody) is out to lock them up for good. First target: Dom’s son Brian…
But luckily for Lil ‘B’ and Aunty Mia, the show-stopping (and scene-stealing) Jakob Toretto (John Cena) arrives to lay the smackdown on the field agents and, once again, destroy the Toretto household (literally – and they just finished renovations from the explosion in Furious 7 too). Uncle Jakob and Lil Brian head off on an event-filled trip to their safehouse – where they also encounter a surprise cameo from Paul Walker‘s real-life daughter, Meadow Walker (as a helpful flight attendant).
On the other side of the world – [honestly, try and keep up with the continents visited in this outing] – Dom visits a street race in Rio (because y’all wanted racing back), and he comes face to face with the eccentric Dante – who is as flamboyant as he is deadly; making him choose between saving one of the two other racers the big boys are facing off against, including Isabel (Daniela Melchior) who has close FAMILY ties and connections to Dom, which we find out about shortly after.
The hands-dirty gang consisting of Tej, Roman, Ramsey and Han, meet up with Pete Davidson‘s new-age hipster character – who runs a black-market business from an internet cafe (if you remember these, you’re old now), but leads the team astray for his own benefits. It’s a funny cameo, but begs the question – was he simply added for his star factor? Because he adds nothing to the storyline other than leading the group down a dead end with his forgettable appearance.
Upon realising just how out of their depth they are, they then seek out the assistance of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who comes face to face with Han for the first time, since killing him in Tokyo Drift; only he didn’t really die, he actually faked his own death with help from The Agency’s Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). If you’re confused, you should be. Some fisty-cuffs break out to solve the sexual tension between the pair, plus a fight with Agency goons, before they all set off in different directions for the big finale.
After a double-cross, upon the very same bridge at the ending of Fast Five (see, incestuous), Dom has to once again choose to save new FAMILY member Isabel, or be forced to give up the location of his son, still in the care of younger brother Jakob. The latter happens and then the race is on to get to Lil Brian before Dante can get his furry-chested, space-bun-sporting hands on him. The final chase scene is eerily reminiscent of the vault heist in Fast Five, and the one with the bridge where Dom crashes his car and flies out the window to save Letty (Fast & Furious 6 for those of you keeping up). With the rules of gravity and realism thrown out the window, and the ridiculousness levels turned up to 12, it’s during this series of events where several fan favourites sadly meet their demise – or do they – given that NO ONE EVER REALLY DIES in this series! Maybe they should opt for getting Pharrell Williams‘ hip-hop project N.E.R.D. on the soundtrack instead… More on this soon.
We’re met with a final confrontation (for now) where Dom, and Lil ‘Brian’, have to decide whether they’ll be blown up by two petrol tankers (remote-controlled by Dante), or launch themselves down the side of a vertical causeway… No, I’m serious, I’m actually dead serious.
Without giving away the entire cliffhanger ending, let’s just say it leaves our Furious FAMILY members set up for an interesting lead-in to the forthcoming Fast & Furious 11 entry, especially with that mid-credit scene cameo that will please long-term fans; and the surprise revival of yet another character once believed to be killed off in the past.
See what I mean? Non-stop, no-holds-barred, constant in-your-face action, and cameos galore from previous films in the saga; alongside new faces who sit amongst the established FAMILY well. You know what you’re in for with these movies, and if you go in with the intention of turning off your brain and watching the burning rubber and flames erupt, then you’re gonna have a good time.
Jason Mamoa as the diabolical/maniacal Dante Reyes is exceptional casting, and a worthy villain addition to the legacy. In several scenes, he comes across as flamboyantly eccentric as can be, but is deceptively (and brutally) punishing when the scene calls for it. Vin Diesel hasn’t changed much since the first film and even in fatherhood, he’s still as rough as can be. But the real star of this 10th outing is John Cena, who fits the role of the goofy, yet tough Uncle Jakob perfectly.
Also, despite teasing his return at the end of F9, beloved fan-fav character Brian O’Connor (played by the late Paul Walker) was nowhere to be seen, and only depicted as looking after his two children off-screen, or in photos referenced at the film’s beginning. However, during an interview with Total Film back in March, Vin Diesel explained that by the conclusion of the Fast Franchise, they will pay homage to his right-hand, brother-man properly, stating:
“I will give you this without spoiling anything: I couldn’t imagine this saga ending without truly saying goodbye to Brian O’Conner.”
While we wait for that triumphant comeback (and how they approach a posthumous inclusion for Walker), right now you can grab your coronas, and your FAMILY, and stick-shift your 20-second car to your nearest cinema to catch Fast X, only on the big screen.
Review by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
Fast X is in cinemas across Australia via Universal Pictures.
Grab your tickets here