Fast X film poster and movie review

Movie Reviews

Fast X

Reviewed by:
Luke Bonanno on May 25, 2023

Theatrical Release:
May 19, 2023

While this tenth entry in the Fast saga has no shortage of busy set pieces, international filming locations, and, for some reason, Academy Award-winning actresses, the thrills are minimal this time out.

Running Time141 min

RatingPG-13

Running Time 141 min

RatingPG-13

Louis Leterrier

Dan Mazeau, Justin Lin (story & screenplay); Zach Dean (story); Gary Scott Thompson (characters)

Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty Ortiz), Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw), Jordana Brewster (Mia Toretto), Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pearce), Chris "Ludacris" Bridges (Tej Parker), Nathalie Emmanuel (Ramsey), Charlize Theron (Cipher), John Cena (Jakob Toretto), Sung Kang (Han Lue), Helen Mirren (Magdalene "Queenie" Ellmanson-Shaw), Brie Larson (Tess), Scott Eastwood (Little Nobody), Jason Momoa (Dante Reyes), Alan Ritchson (Aimes), Luis Da Silva Jr. (Diogo), Daniela Melchior (Isabel), Leo Abelo Perry (Little Brian Toretto), Joaquim de Almeida (Hernan Reyes), Rita Moreno (Abuelita Toretto), Pete Davidson (Bowie)


Fast X (2023)

by Luke Bonanno

No one could have predicted that the Fast & Furious franchise would still be going and still be going strong in 2023, twenty-two years after it began. The series that began with street racing action died a natural death after three movies, but ended up getting revived and somehow just grew in popularity. Over the years, we’ve gotten theme park attractions, an animated series, the Hobbs & Shaw spin-off line, and who knows how many games. For a while, the movies were commanding some critical respect to go along with worldwide grosses as high as $1.5 billion. But the series is definitely trending downward again, eight years after it peaked with Furious 7.

Fast X boasts a reported budget of $340 million, a sum previously only spent on select installments of Star Wars, Avatar, Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jurassic World. For a third of a billion dollars, you expect some razzmatazz. And while this tenth entry in the saga has no shortage of busy set pieces, international filming locations, and, for some reason, Academy Award-winning actresses, the thrills are minimal this time out.

Although there is danger in planning a franchise out to excess, letting a series progress organically leads you to the creative space where Fast X resides. No fewer than fourteen actors feature on the film’s official one-sheet and even the generous 141-minute runtime is not enough to dive deep into any of these generally one-dimensional characters. Unless you’re Tom Cruise making Mission: Impossible movies, it is impossible to keep raising the stakes, defying death, and entertaining moviegoers. The action in the Fast saga grows more outlandish on every adventure. Last time out, two characters drove into outer space, so it’s hard to believe things could get more ridiculous than that. And yet, Fast X is no less ridiculous than its predecessor and it is a good deal harder to defend.

The movie opens with a prologue set ten years in the past that sees paterfamilias Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian (the late Paul Walker) pulling off a daring heist that involves ripping a vault out of a wall and dragging it behind their fast, furious cars. I assume this prologue is an exercise in retconning, since it features series newcomer Dante (Jason Momoa), who serves as the primary villain here and presumably the next two thus-untitled sequels already in development. I’m not sure exactly how Walker is resurrected since he died ten years ago, but his screen presence in the opening is minor enough not to speculate.

Dante has long-term beef with Dom and wisely tries to get at him by targeting his family, which for once is not just Dom’s nickname for his friend group but his actual car-crazy son (Leo Abelo Perry) and his once-deceased wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez).

Jason momoa injects camp value to the fast franchise as the ridiculous new villain dante reyes.

One of the biggest reasons Fast X falls flat is Momoa. It seems like inspired casting, Momoa being a hunky movie star whose 2018 Aquaman movie gave DC Studios a much-needed hit. The actor approaches the antagonist role like he’s participating in a sacred tradition which includes such eccentric baddies as Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight and Gary Oldman’s dirty DEA agent in Léon. Instead, Momoa’s antics, which include rampant monologuing, flowy pants, and conversing with a couple of puppeted corpses, would feel more at home in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin or in one of the many bad movies Nicolas Cage made to offset his debt. Not frightening and rarely any fun, Momoa is just around to give the fiercely loyal Dom someone new to race and outwit.

Inevitably on such an ensemble production, the movie gets divided into a number of different threads. One of the more improbably tolerable ones sees Dom’s son becoming protected by Dom’s brother Jakob (John Cena), who throws a guy through a floor at one point. Not a hole in a floor, at least not until the anonymous bad guy’s body creates it from the sheer force of a John Cena toss. A wounded Cipher (Charlize Theron) reaches out to the Torettos as a mutual enemy of Dante wanting to be an unlikely ally. She ends up engaging in fisticuffs with Letty in some Antarctic prison. Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson are back, as always, with their usual blend of technical exposition and comic relief.

Joining the Fast fray for the first time are Academy Award winners Rita Moreno as Dom’s heretofore unseen grandmother and the widely beloved Brie Larson as the daughter of the late (for now?) Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Abuelita gets to appear in the requisite family cookout scene, while Larson wears spiky shoes, talks tough, and shoots some weapons off.

It wouldn't be a fast movie without a "family" cookout.

If Fast X were to just embrace how ridiculous it was, it might be kind of endearing. But for some reason, it maintains a straight face, expecting viewers to be as serious about all this as Diesel inexplicably is. In a different era, Diesel would have ended up with a career like Dolph Lundgren taking on direct-to-video action vehicles to diminishing returns. Instead, this franchise has kept him powerful, relevant, and ridiculously well-paid. There’s not much logic behind that enduring stature — he’s never impressed as an actor and there is increasingly little of value about his contributions as producer, a role he took on upon returning to the series in 2009’s Fast & Furious. What cannot be denied is that this once-dead franchise has managed to keep selling tickets. Diesel and company invest some of those proceeds in a higher caliber of action and stunt casting. Universal has been all too willing to support Diesel’s wishes for the franchise, an undertaking that has been absurdly lucrative for them.

While you can usually spot the passion and pride at the heart of a successful series, it grows more obscure here with each outlandish new sequel. Few lines have ever made it to a tenth installment. It’s remarkable that neither audiences nor the creators have yet to let fatigue do its thing. But that is one of the only remarkable things about Fast X, which drags the series close to the depths of Transformers levels of soulless tentpole filmmaking.

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