Nothing in the trailer, the title or the poster art suggest that Fast X is part one of a film; another summer blockbuster Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning-Part One has no such problem. Going into the cinema unaware you’re about to see the first section of a two or possibly three part film creates precisely the opposite effect that the measured ending of John Wick 4 had; instead of introducing plot elements and characters that come together in an unexpectedly satisfying way, the various components of Fast X end up lying about like Hot Wheels toys discarded on a child’s bedside rug. And I thought we were done with the whole ‘splitting films in several bits’ lark anyway, after the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises stumbled at the last hurdle by separating their dramatic endgame into segments that took so too long to come around that half their audience had moved on.
So while the insatiable public appetite for such high-octane Tex Avery-physics carmageddon destructathon rampages will likely propel Fast X to the usual series box-office heights, it’s not one of the better entries in a Fast & Furious franchise. That series of films scored a notable comeback from the law of diminishing returns when the seminal Tokyo Drift discovered a driving mojo that rebirthed the franchise and sustained it through a strong second trilogy that included the real breakout, franchise darling Rio Heist. Louis (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans, Grimsby) Leterrier’s film for Universal starts by retconning Rio Heist’s concrete-splintering safe-on-a-chain climax, now remodelled to introduce Jason Momoa as big bad Dante Reyes with a mission to take down Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). Reyes plans to get Toretto through his weak spot, his love for his family, and franchise fans will recognise that Toretto has been established as a family man. Dom’s brother Jakob (John Cena) does what he can to protect Toretto’s son, but Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez) falls into the hands of Dante, a flamboyantly camp villain who looks and acts like a 60’s Batman villain.
All of this is framed with a wider story in which Toretto is wrongly accused of a bombing attempt at the Vatican; in proper Fast and Furious style this incendiary device takes the form of a giant ball that looks like it should say ACME on the side. Toretto and his team (Tyrese Gibson, Ludicrous, Natalie Emmanuel) somehow ending up chasing this giant sphere in their cars down the Spanish Steps in Rome, bopping the ball around in the traffic. Such childish sequences are where the franchise excels with goofy OTT visuals, and for fans, this should be enough to earn the film pass marks. There’s also increasingly fakey explosions and stunt-work, a very firm no swearing, no sex, minimal violence, and general vanilla flavouring that reflects the MOR attitude the series increasingly reflects. Additional returnees include Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Jason Statham, Sung Kang and Scott Eastwood; newbies dragged into the fray include Pete Davidson, Rita Moreno and Brie Larson taking over from MIA Kurt Russell as Mr Nobody.
The cheerful gang show mentality still invests the Fast and Furious franchise entries with an easy-going, undemanding guilty-pleasure charm, but it’s wearing a little thin by movie ten. Other than the big basilica bagatelle set piece, there’s not much more than a motorway showdown with a cannon car that really drops the hammer action-wise. Otherwise, it makes sense that the bad guys would cop onto the ‘cult with cars’ that Toretto’s extended family offer. It’s the right motive for a final act struggle, but that struggle doesn’t materialise, we just see Dom fall into a trap and that’s it, and 2025 feels a long way away to find out what happened to characters we’re not that heavily invested in from film to film. Maybe, like Letty’s convenient amnesia, we’ll eventually forget about the bad times, but fans may well feel a little short-changed by this surprise cliff-hanger; there’s something to be said for the art of satisfying blockbusters, and Fast X doesn’t even try to play that game.
Saw this yesterday in theaters. Absolutely garbage… They’ve really reached a new low with this latest entry.
Just not a film. The mix isn’t right when even they don’t know what pace to tell the story at, wanting to keep their options open for one or two more. So you’re just left looking at green screen cameos and action that tends towards the ridiculous.
Looks ridiculous but I like the mad stunts. Think I’d watch it once all 3 have been released so I could do them 1 weekend after the other. So, Statham is a goodie in this? I thought he was a baddie in the earlier ones so I didn’t watch those.
Stratham, to give him his full title, is a goodie for sure. Everyone starts out a baddie in these films and ends up a goodie by the next one. Good plan about watching all 3, but that might not be until 2027 at the earliest…
I can wait. There’s a few to do in the meantime. Saw The Mother last night. More ridiculosity but J-Lo very good.
The Mother is like a documentary compared to Diesel reversing his car out of a plane, dropping hundred of feet into a motorway, and driving away as if he’s clipped a kerb.
Always have time for J-Lo.
Just wondering how a product like Fast X measure up against the competition. As effective as this stuff?
Only if you take it internally…
high-octane Tex Avery-physics carmageddon destructathon rampages
Now that is a great sentence!
I watched the first one, maybe the second and I know I watched tokyo drift, but after that I didn’t bother. I’m not a gearhead, not a fan of Rodriguez and don’t particularly care one way or another about vin Diesel. So this is a franchise I can very easily simply let drift on by me…
It’s been an enduring franchise, and obviously has millions of fans. But I imagine your mind is on more substantial matters…
Futurama re-runs aren’t going to watch themselves after all…
The MCU and Star Wars franchise basically re-introduced the old idea of serial filmmaking as mainstream. These are just the tricked out versions of the Lone Ranger or Flash Gordon or Dick Tracy now. I don’t know if it makes much difference if the movie doesn’t end properly, since everyone knows the franchise is just going to keep going.
Pete Davidson is in this? Ugh. Also: Jason Stratham. Better fix that before Fraggle sees it.
I use the terms Statham and Stratham interchangeably.
I can tell you it made a big difference to me sitting in the pictures yesterday. I like a satisfying story, rather than a binge-able series that tv or streaming do better. Every Fast film has been a one off until now; they’re off in the wrong direction.