Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Fast X

Having nowhere new to go with the series, the Fast & Furious franchise looks backwards by photoshopping Jason Momoa into the events of Fast Five (the best movie of the hit, and mostly miss, franchise) and quickly elevating him to one of its most dangerous villains. At least more enjoyable than the last entry, Fast X is mostly harmless with some extravagant special effects sequences including our heroes chasing a giant bomb crashing through the streets of Rome. Its also mindbogglingly twenty minutes too long while making no effort to wrap up events before the credits roll. How can a movie this long never end?

The tenth entry to the franchise (seriously, how the hell is a franchise that feels like the bastard child of Michael Bay and Kirk Cameron, with its stylized stunts, scantily clad sex objects in heels, fast cars and guns, and groan-inducing dialogue of faith and family, still going strong?) brings back everyone of note for a long, loud, and dumb entry to the franchise that literally never ends (the story simply stops in a half-assed attempt at a cliffhanger).

Along the way we will get "surprise" returns, several car chases, and many, many mentions of family. In some ways Momoa, who is so over the top his head is literally skimming the stratosphere, is the best villain of the franchise as his attack on Dom's (Vin Diesel) family allows the characters to continually mention the franchise's favorite topic. Unless you fancy alcohol poisoning, don't make a drinking game out of the family references this time around which will have even the most ardent drinkers in a stupor within a few minutes.

The plot involves Dante's (Momoa) attack on Dom's friends and family by framing them as terrorists as the thieves turned spies go on the run from the secret spy organization employing them based on evidence showing them attempting to stop the event they are accused of creating. Well, I guess that makes as much sense as anything in a Fast & Furious film. The result is the former criminals are running from authorities, spy agencies, and Dante. Throwing them back on the other side of the law, while still allowing them to play the heroes framed for crimes they didn't commit, gives the group more freedom this time around even if events really devolve into the Dominic Toretto show for much of its running time while other characters are randomly assigned B-stories for the sole purpose to give them something to do, while bloating the film's running time, and buy time for the inevitable sequel.

Jordana Brewster draws the short straw here in the movie's half-assed explanation of the continued absence of Brian (whose death in this film could easily have raised the stakes of our villain's vendetta but instead the character continues to be barely mentioned and as both he and Mia are quickly forgotten). Throwing everything else from the franchise's two decades on screen, we also get the addition of Brie Larson, because why not, who simply appears and disappears in random locations when the script needs another character thrown in. Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris are back with their usual bickering, and John Cena reprises his role albeit as a less-murderous brother this time around.

While this entry has about a much laugh-at as groan-at moments, it ranks neither near the top nor the bottom of the franchise. With characters separated for much of the film, offering us different concurrent narratives, none of which build to conclusions, it becomes easy to forget some characters are even in the film at times. Despite the fun Momoa is having here, and how quickly it builds his character into a major threat, there's too much that doesn't pay off including an entire subplot involving Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) that apparently was only included for a "shocking" epilogue reveal and to (kinda, sorta, but not really) set up events for the next installment continuing this never-ending story.

There's a scene late in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, one of my favorite movies of 2005, in which a character referenced how ridiculous events of the script have become and suggests throwing even more ludicrous craziness with even Elvis Pressley brought back to life for a cameo, because why not? That film laughs at the core identity Fast & Furious takes seriously, without the wink to the camera or the awareness of knowing when it has crossed the line and become a cartoon where events, even death, don't matter as nothing shown on film can't later be forgotten or run over as fast and furiously as the next script will allow.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Fast X
  • IMDb: link

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