Synopsis: Dom Toretto and his family are targeted by the vengeful son of drug kingpin Hernan Reyes.
Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jason Momoa, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, John Cena, Jason Statham, Sung Kang, Alan Ritchson, Daniela Melchoir, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson, Rita Moreno
Director: Louis Leterrier
Running Length: 141 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: After a four-year gap between the eighth and ninth entries (partly because of the pandemic), it’s great to be back behind the cinematic wheel of the Fast and Furious family saga for their tenth time around the track, barely twenty-fourth months after the last breathless conclusion. Plenty has happened during that time, with Fast X’s initial director (and long-time franchise helmer/writer) Justin Lin exiting due to conflict with star Vin Diesel and announcing that the series was headed for its final laps. Set to conclude with a 12th film that gives audiences plenty of time to gear up their goodbyes and the filmmakers to go out with a sonic boom…it all starts with the uproariously entertaining Fast X.
This series has always rewarded fans deeply entrenched in the films, so the more you know about the previous installments, the better. That’s particularly beneficial for Fast X, which begins with the heist finale of 2010’s Fast Five that ended the life of drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). A little ret-con work has been done to insert new shots of Hernan’s son, Dante (Jason Momoa, Aquaman), who witnesses his father’s death and vows pain and suffering on all involved.
A decade later, Dom (Diesel, Riddick) and his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, She Dies Tomorrow) are again adjusting to a quieter life living under the radar and staying out of trouble. Raising Dom’s son (Leo Abelo Perry) in the stable family environment Dom and his siblings Mia (Jordana Brewster, Furious 7) and Jakob (John Cena, Vacation Friends) didn’t have is the priority. However, it becomes tricky to do so when the past doesn’t leave them alone. An unexpected visit from nemesis Cipher (Charlize Theron, Bombshell), who turns up on Dom and Letty’s doorstep bruised and bloodied, warns of the danger heading their way.
That deadly threat is Dante Reyes, seeking costly revenge on Dom and others that played a part in his father’s death. A flashy big baddie with a bark as bad as his bite, Dante plays a ruthless game with Dom and his gang introduced with a mission in Rome that goes awry for Roman (Tyrese Gibson, Fast & Furious 6), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, End of the Road), Han (Sung Kang, Raya and the Last Dragon), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel, Army of Thieves) and culminates with a high-speed chase through Portugal’s highways, tunnels, and over a dam. In between, we visit Rio de Janeiro and Antarctica and get a few excellent surprise appearances along the way I wouldn’t dare spoil for you.
While it sets the stage for Fast 11 in 2025 (which will probably feel like a bridge to Fast 12 shortly after), there’s an undeniable surge of power in Fast X that hasn’t been felt in a few chapters of this saga. Maybe it’s new director Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me) bringing his typically breathless directing pace out in full force, or it could be that the cast is just primed and ready to party, but Fast X is in a constant state of motion that never lets up.
Let’s talk about that cast, shall we? While Diesel is an immovable object at this point (the voice is so low I had to take a lozenge halfway through in solidarity) who never, not once, gets his white shirt dirty, he surrounds himself with a splendid supporting troupe that continues to hone their characters to a fine polish. Rodriguez is the consistent MVP of the group, bringing more pathos to a once-throwaway role than it initially deserved. I still am crossing my fingers for some one-off installment for Gibson, Bridges, and Emmanuel – all three have demonstrated they are a terrific trio that could hold their own like Jason Statham (Spy) and Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise) did in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. A brief cameo from Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) as Statham’s mum is about on par with the early appearance of Rita Moreno (West Side Story) as Dom’s grandmother, who pops in to talk about, what else? family.
Newcomer Alan Ritchson (Ghosts of War) as a gruff agent now in charge of calling the shots, taking over for Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood, The Longest Ride), has the appropriate muscle-bulk to play Gun Show Grunt with the gang but can be a bit one note. Daniela Melchoir (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), as a new racer that crosses paths with Dom and Dante, feels a bit shoehorned in, but not as much as Oscar-winner Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) does in a head-scratcher of a role. Playing another government agent that feels like she’s there only to solve some script problems, Larson also doesn’t seem to understand what she’s there to do either. It’s a strange appearance.
Strange doesn’t even begin to describe what Momoa is doing…but it works much better for his job. Momoa is by far the best villain yet in these films and almost instantly becomes a character you’re desperate to see more of, even if you know his presence means terrible news for our good guys. Choices that wouldn’t work on any other actor work brilliantly in Momoa’s large, capable hands, and there’s not one frame of the film where he isn’t in complete command of the proceedings. It’s such a scene-stealing role that I’m shocked Diesel let him get away with it, knowing how Diesel likes to be the center of attention. The one-liners and line readings are perfectly molded to the character, and if the role weren’t written with Momoa in mind, I’d love to know who else was considered for the part.
True, Fast X doesn’t have as high an incredulity factor as previous installments (spoiler alert: no one goes into orbit), but that doesn’t mean the stunts performed are any less jaw-dropping. Our audience still whooped and clapped throughout and appropriately went nuts for a finale (and post-credit sequence) that will send you out of the theater buzzing on a “did they just do that to us?” high. Buckle up for this one because it is an adrenaline-fueled ride that doesn’t bother ever to hit the brakes on its audience.