REVIEW: “Fast X” (2023)

While none of us can make sense of their hilariously arbitrary titles (“Fast Five”, “Fast & Furious 6”, “Furious 7”, “The Fate of the Furious”, “F9”, etc.), one thing is for sure – the Fast and Furious movies have fully embraced what has made the franchise such a hit. Since taking a dramatic turn in 2011 with its fifth installment, the series has grown into one of the most expense and most profitable popcorn franchises in big screen history.

The latest chapter is “Fast X” and it’s being advertised as the first film in a possible trilogy that will bring the adrenaline-fueled saga to an end (it even sports the tagline “the end of the road begins“). Vin Diesel returns as the series centerpiece Dominic Toretto. Pretty much everyone else is back as well for this $340 million last ride.

“Fast X” doesn’t do anything to break the mold. So if you like the previous movies this one will deliver the same over-the-top, fuel-injected action spectacle you’ll be looking for. The reverse is also true. If you didn’t care for the other films in the franchise there’s nothing new in “Fast X” that will suddenly win you over. Well maybe Jason Momoa who plays the story’s giddily diabolical antagonist. He’s a blast and goes for broke in delivering a villain like none other we’ve seen in the franchise.

Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“F9” was a little wobbly with several nagging issues keeping it from living up to expectations. Still it had the crazy set pieces and most (not all) of the characters we have grown to love. As you might guess, “Fast X” amps up nearly everything. It’s not as distractingly absurd as “F9”, but it still features the franchise’s signature reality-defying action and it miraculously finds time to give everyone some meaningful moments. It’s pure fan food, made from start to finish with fans in mind.

One thing is for sure, “Fast X” is far from a standalone movie. In fact you’re guaranteed to have more questions after the movie than you did at the start of it. Director Louis Leterrier, working from a screenplay by Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin, puts a lot of things in motion and their cliffhanger ending leaves several loose story threads dangling. But that’s okay for a tale of the size and scope.

Diesel gives one of his better performances of the series, portraying Dom as both tough-as-nails yet vulnerable. He loves his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his young son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry) more than anything else and he has worked so hard to keep them and his extended family safe. But the constant worry is clearly taking an emotional toll on him.

But once again the past comes back to haunt Dom. This time its in the form of the flamboyant and maniacal Dante Reyes (a hysterical and unnerving Momoa). He’s the son of Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), a violent drug kingpin who was killed during 2011’s “Fast Five”. Dante is intent on paying back the man he holds responsible for killing his father and stealing their family fortune – Dominic Toretto. And what better way than by taking away what’s dearest to Dom – his family.

Of course in the Fast & Furious movies family isn’t just blood kin. It also includes loyal friends like Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Han (Sung Kang), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). Dom’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) and his little brother, Jakob (John Cena) also find themselves in the mix. That’s a lot of people to protect and the sadistic Dante knows it. So he hatches a meticulously crafted plan aimed at separating Dom’s loved ones and luring them all across the globe. Not even Dom can be five places at once. So the danger ratchets up and the personal stakes get higher and higher.

Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

As the story takes shape Leterrier ushers us around the globe, making stops in London, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Portugal, and Antarctica among others. At each stop we meet old friends like Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and some old enemies like Cipher (Charlize Theron). And there are plenty of new faces as well played by the likes of Brie Larson, Daniela Melchior, and Alan Ritchson. Yes, it’s a massive cast.

By the end it feels like this final story is only getting started. We’re left shocked by certain outcomes, wondering about certain fates, and curious for what lies ahead. And what can I say – I enjoyed the ride. Even more, Diesel and company did their job of leaving me genuinely looking forward to the next film. As with all the FF movies you have to endure a rather large amount of silliness, and buying into some of the plot machinations can be a challenge. Those are baked-in issues that have been around for years.

But the franchise freed itself from the restraints of reality a long time ago. “Fast X” is openly self-aware yet it has an undeniably big heart. And Momoa brings a blithely psychotic energy that you can’t turn away from. It’s hard to get a good read on the film since so much is left for later. But the movie sets the table well, all while delivering just the kind of big budget popcorn entertainment it advertises. In the end, it’s hard to knock it too much for being exactly what its fans want it to be. “Fast X” is now showing exclusively in theaters.

VERDICT – 3.5 STARS

17 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Fast X” (2023)

  1. Sounds like a good plot for this franchise. Dom’s got his work cut out for him. Glad Cena is back as Jakob. I wondered if he would be in the next one.

  2. I feel like I’d enjoy this, but can’t be doing with starting a 10 flick franchise now and I think one would have had to see the previous to get all the nuances. (If there are any 🙂 )

  3. I watched, or tried to watch, F9 a couple of weeks. I never got engaged with it – noisy, phony, whatever the plot was I just wasn’t interested in. The phrase about “jumping the shark” came to mind, although I think it was more like jumping a whale.

  4. I’ll wait for this on TV though I need to catch up on the last one which I haven’t seen. I heard Rita Moreno is in the film as Grandma Torretto. When are we going to get Meryl Streep as Brian’s mama? Come on! We know she’s overdue to be in a franchise like this and we know that Meryl Streep is…. $$$$$$$

  5. a three-part conclusion? Are you kidding me?

    lol what are they going to do with the middle section there — like how is that differentiated from just another Chapter in the whole saga. This is absolute nonsense.

    • I do believe there might be a gameplan with this one. Where each of the other films have had pretty tidy endings, this one clearly has a bigger story in mind. And I think I see how the three films might be segmented.

      We’ll see if it all comes together in a way that feels the slightest bit meaningful.

  6. Pingback: “Fast X” Speeds to the Top of the Weekend Box Office | Keith & the Movies

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