In 1998, a journalist named Ken Li wrote a Vibe article entitled Racer X, inspiring a little film called The Fast and the Furious. 25 years later, Vibe no longer exists in print form, but the franchise that Racer X inspired has made it to Fast X. Remember when Fast & Furious was Point Break with street racing? Somewhere down the line, the characters went from stealing DVD players to stealing giant safes. By the time we got F9, the series became the cinematic equivalent of a meme generator, taped together by quotes about family and promises of going to space.
With the tenth installment (or eleventh if you count Hobbs & Shaw), the saga has solidified itself as the world’s most action-packed soap opera. The production values may be higher. Actually, the film’s $340 million budget could produce about a decade of General Hospital episodes. All of the elements you’d find on daytime dramas are present, however: a never-ending narrative, a large ensemble cast of characters who refuse to die, and villains who keep coming back to haunt our heroes. Jason Momoa’s Dante is the latest baddie from Dominic Toretto’s past out for revenge. Dante finally gets around to executing his master plan ten years after Dom got his father killed during the Rio heist. In case you’ve lost track, that happened in the fifth movie.
Momoa is easily the best aspect of Fast X, injecting every line and gesture with the gleeful evil of a 60s Batman villain. He’s beyond over-the-top, but Dante’s lust for life and destruction proves infectious. Of course, it may only be a matter of time until Dante finds himself joining Dom’s family for a barbecue. There’s a point in Fast X where a character compares Dom’s family to a cult with cars. This line seems like a wink to the camera, but it’s even funnier than the writers likely realize. The Toretto Family is one Sharon Tate away from feeling more like the Manson Family.
While the actors all do their jobs, Dom’s family might be getting too big for its own good. Roman and Tej are just there to bicker, Megan is just there to spout tech mumbo jumbo, and Han is just kind of there. Returning favorites like Jason Statham’s Shaw and newcomers like Brie Larson’s Tess aren’t given as much time to shine as one would hope. It’s also hilarious to think that between Larson, Charlize Theron, Rita Moreno, and Helen Mirren, Fast X has more Oscar-winning performers than Everything Everywhere All at Once. At least John Cena is a lot more fun this time around, although Jakob Toretto completely changes from stone-faced assassin to fun uncle.
The action is the real star with the highlight being a giant bomb bouncing around Rome, causing millions/billions in damages yet apparently smashing nobody. The climax also ups the ante, although time will only tell if it has lasting consequences. Without giving away any plot details, Fast X is intended to be the first in what could be a three-part finale. Could that mean the third chapter is going to be called Fast xXx, bridging the link between Dom and Xander Cage? In any case, we all know there will never truly be a last ride. Like any soap opera, The Fast Saga just keeps going. And if you’re in the mood for an action movie like this (which I was), why pump the breaks now?