Review of Fast & Furious franchise grab a victory lap?

Can the Fast & Furious franchise grab a victory lap? That’s the main subject of “Fast X”, a film that acts like a summary of some of its greatest hits. Drawing connections to “Fast Five” and paying tribute to other movies in this series, such as “Furious 7” and “The Fate of the Furious,” the script by Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin (who departed due to divergent views) often resembles an imitation of itself. 

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Though buoyed by Jason Momoa’s amusing turn, many of its action sequences are recycled versions and make this movie seem more like pre-heated food than ever before. Reportedly beginning a trilogy that will end the series, let’s trust they bring something innovative in the next two entries.

The first few scenes of “Fast X” under the direction of Louis Leterrier unintentionally relegate these beloved characters to their most inherent and cliche qualities. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) drones on about legacy and family, with a monotonous bit of Charlie Puth playing in the background while he looks at pictures of Paul Walker. The opportune moment for introducing an “Old Man Dom” is squandered; it’s as if even Diesel himself could not grasp what that would entail other than a sullen and despondent older version of his hyper-masculine character. The fictional world that was so tenderly crafted across films 5-7 is reduced to the hastened soundbite “family”, which plays out like a tired joke throughout the first half hour. There doesn’t need to be great character depth at this point, but surely we can explore some other themes aside from those that have been recycled ad nauseum? It’s tiresome watching Dom mumble about family matters while Little B (Leo Abelo Perry) stands quietly by his side.

In “Fast X”, Dom and his companions are thrown into a plan formulated by Dante Reyes, Hernan’s son. His goal is to cause the gang agony rather than just killing them right off the bat. As part of this scheme, it has been arranged that an explosion will occur in Rome to make it appear as if the gang is composed of terrorists. This course of action had been taken since Vin and The Rock’s separation from each other. Roman, Tej, Ramsey, Han and Letty start making their escape to London where they run into Jason Statham’s Shaw character. Tess (Brie Larson) and Cipher (CharlizeTheron), help out with saving Letty from captivity. On top of these names are John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Daniela Melchior, Helen Mirren, Rita Morenoand Alan Ritchson—all coming together in thisAction Packed Crowd Street Race Blockbuster!

Despite the esteemed cast, there’s little to be done with these characters. Roman/Tej banter has become uninspired; Moreno & Mirren get one “supporting Dom” scene that feels as if it were composed by an AI; while Cena and Perry take a sorely conceived and executed road trip. Fortunately, Theron and Rodriguez find solace in their own subplot, culminating in an impressive action sequence. Most of the story is led by Dom & Dante, contrasting Diesel’s stoic demeanor with Momoa’s over-the-top psychotic persona – he’s like a wild child in an adult body, sticking out his tongue and jumping headfirst into chaos whilst shouting “Here we go!”

“Fast X” opens with a repurposed version of one of the franchise’s most iconic scenes from “Fast Five,” this time featuring a de-aged Momoa. This creative concept then formed the basis of the whole film; it appears as if somebody had jotted down a list of the most exciting action scenes on a whiteboard and decided how they could be spiced up by invoking Dante’s energetic spirit. The drag race scene in Rio is reminiscent of when the series was about cars and speed rather than physical impossibility. And, of course, there are more planes dropping vehicles and harpoons with wires attached to them. Sadly, however, nothing really hits home due to the fact that we are watching something that is more clearly generated through visual effects rather than pure stunt work – it’s also not helped by director Louis Leterrier’s subpar handling of these stunts or the poor CGI rendering.

The “rock band encore with new pyrotechnics” feel of ‘Fast X’ makes it difficult to forgive. Not only has Diesel revealed this is the start of a franchise-ending trilogy, but it’s likely that word leaked before the premiere to cushion the blow of a blockbuster without resolution. It’s an unrestrained climax like “Avengers: Infinity War” where characters are left marooned and divided. All of this makes for an anti-climactic victory lap as we wait for gratification, and emphasizes that this isn’t about family or frivolity but finances.

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