Wednesday, July 17, 2024

“FAST X”

THE STORY – Over many missions and against impossible odds, Dom Toretto and his family have outsmarted and outdriven every foe in their path. Now, they must confront the most lethal opponent they’ve ever faced. Fueled by revenge, a terrifying threat emerges from the shadows of the past to shatter Dom’s world and destroy everything — and everyone — he loves.

THE CAST – 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, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson & Rita Moreno

THE TEAM – Louis Leterrier (Director), Dan Mazeau & Justin Lin (Writers)

THE RUNNING TIME – 141 Minutes


“The end of the road begins,” promises the tagline for “Fast X.” It’s hinting at the two-part franchise finale that’s been in the works for years. Of course, the “Fast & Furious” patron saint Vin Diesel promises even more movies as part of this finale, thus confusing the latest film’s tagline. Future franchise plans aside, “Fast X” brings the “family” back together again for more globe-trotting adventures, car races, helicopters smashing into things, and lots of reminiscing. Fans of the franchise will likely be in for the ride, but there’s nothing here to win over new converts. And after ten films in, would you honestly expect anything different?

A mysterious new villain with ties to the family’s past is out for revenge. “Fast X” (pronounced “Fast Ten”) flashes back to “Fast Five,” when Dom (Vin Diesel) and the crew stole from drug lord Hernan Reyes, leading to his death. Who was secretly there the whole time? Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), Hernan’s son, who now wants vengeance for his father’s death. Dom stole someone precious from Dante, and now Dante aims to steal someone from Dom: his son, Brian. The team finds themselves hopelessly outmatched against Dante but bands together people from across the “Fast” timeline to defeat him.

Momoa is easily the best part of this latest entry in the “Fast Saga.” He’s giving a fully committed charismatic performance, leaning into Dante’s flamboyant, chaotic nature. For the first time in the franchise, having a genuinely entertaining villain helps immensely and gives the film a far greater sense of stakes than ever before while setting up what will come in the inevitable future installments before this franchise mercifully ends (are we sure Vin Diesel will ever let that happen though?)

It feels a little silly at this point o criticize the writing of a movie in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, but this plot feels identical to each of the last five movies. Or at least, the story of “Fast X” is as memorable as the other films, which is to say, not memorable at all. Even worse is the dialogue, with every line sounding like the generic output of VinGPT. Every line is dripping with performative sentimentality, begging the audience to believe these characters care for each other without ever investing the necessary level of nuance in selling the drama. Often these cringe-worthy phrases don’t even make sense. As Dom confesses his fear for his family, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) tells him, “If you’re stuck looking in the rearview, you’ll miss eternity in this moment.” The tone of nearly every conversation is so deadly serious that when they throw in jokes, the humor feels forced, falling completely flat. Only Momoa and a returning John Cena seem able to turn some of this writing into something redeemable and worthy of a silly summer blockbuster.

Because the bar for this franchise was set at a new low following “F9,” the forgettable plot and terrible dialogue would be acceptable if the action sequences were worthwhile. Unfortunately, they all blend in a dull concoction of explosions, fast-moving objects, and many characters yelling, “Dom!!” Cars are flying around, smashing into buildings with bombs pushed around in the streets of Rome and helicopters flying into cars. Nothing ever feels grounded in reality because very little of it is. When franchises like “John Wick” or “Mission: Impossible” have ridiculously unbelievable action sequences, they’re at least mostly dropped within an acceptable form of reality through practical effects or dazzling stunt work. Here, there’s no gravity. There’s no pain. There’s nothing but a mishmash of lifeless CGI and closeups of the stars to remind you of the fat checks they continue to receive for such incompetence.

Alongside returning stars Diesel and Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson (Roman), Ludacris (Tej), Sung Kang (Han), and more, new members join the series, such as Brie Larson (Tess), Alan Ritchson (Aimes), and Daniela Melchior (Isabel). Just about every new character is someone’s daughter/son/brother/sister/uncle/nemesis, ensuring everything stays in the family. It’s wildly repetitive, resulting in an overcrowded narrative where very few characters get anything worthwhile to do because the film has to jump around to accommodate all the new faces. Frustratingly, the sequel promises to add even more characters to the mix. Someone should tell the powers that be behind this franchise that bigger isn’t always better.

The “Fast Saga” seems like one of those things where either you get it, or you don’t. Many just want to have fun for two hours (now, these films are pushing the two-and-a-half-hour mark) with dumb action and a slight chance of any form of intellect being paid to the finished product. Those who have been begging for the franchise to meet the high standard set by other commercially successful and critically acclaimed blockbusters are not anti-blockbuster or anti-dumb-fun, far from it. However, the “Fast And The Furious” franchise has always been painfully unfunny and unintentionally hilarious with now repetitive action and the constant reminder that because they’re stories about family, that should be enough to get haters to accept what they’re being given and sit in the passenger seat. Those who get what Vin Diesel, the cast, and crew are continuing to pump out every couple of years, though, will probably have a good time with “Fast X.”

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Jason Momoa brings the right flamboyant energy as the villain in "Fast X." John Cena also sells the corny dialogue well, which helps smooth out the bumpy ride.

THE BAD - Besides the cringe-worthy dialogue and nonsensical plot, the film doesn't even have any exciting action sequences to balance it out. The action is bombastic but generic, making "Fast X" just more of the same.

THE OSCARS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 3/10

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Daniel Howat
Daniel Howathttps://nextbestpicture.com
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Jason Momoa brings the right flamboyant energy as the villain in "Fast X." John Cena also sells the corny dialogue well, which helps smooth out the bumpy ride.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Besides the cringe-worthy dialogue and nonsensical plot, the film doesn't even have any exciting action sequences to balance it out. The action is bombastic but generic, making "Fast X" just more of the same.<br><br> <b>THE OSCARS - </b>None <br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>3/10<br><br>"FAST X"