Action Adventure

Review: ‘Fast X’ is a Maximalist Exercise in Action-Packed Self-Parody

May 17, 2023Ben MK

Not many movie franchises can claim to have the mileage to match the Fast & Furious series. Over the course of the last 22 years, what started out as just another easily forgettable action thriller from the early 2000s has managed to transform itself into one of cinema's most bankable blockbuster IPs, spawning sequel after sequel, not to mention a spin-off, along the way. Now, with Fast X, the tenth installment in what has come to be known as The Fast Saga is setting the stage for the fan-favorite action franchise to ride off triumphantly into the sunset. But are moviegoers willing to suspend their disbelief yet again for the most ridiculously over-the-top Fast & Furious film yet?

Set a decade after the events of 2011's Fast Five, Fast X finds Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his wife and partner-in-crime, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), finally starting to settle down a bit and spend time with their young son, Brian (Leo Abelo Perry). Whether it's backyard-barbecuing with Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their close friends, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), or running the occasional top-secret operation for their law-enforcement counterparts at the Agency, life is good. But when a figure from their past by the name of Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) emerges to wreak havoc on that relatively peaceful existence, it marks the beginning of a new globetrotting adventure that will see this tight-knit group of antiheroes fractured and fighting to make their way back together, all while trying to stop Dante and his army of soldiers, tech specialists and henchmen from destroying some of the world's most famous landmarks.

Hellbent on avenging the death of his father, drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), Dante has seized the bleeding-edge resources of The Fate of the Furious villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) and turned them against her, before turning his attention towards the God's Eye, a device that would allow him to have unprecedented surveillance access to whomever or whatever he so desires. Luckily, it's not just Dom and his crew that are looking to put an end to Dante's maniacal plot, for he's also landed on the radar of Mr. Nobody's (Kurt Russell) daughter, Tess (Brie Larson). Deciding to strike out on her own after the Agency's new head, Aimes (Alan Ritchson), makes the decision to terminate the organization's partnership with her father's former recruits, Tess embarks on a mission to track down Dom and warn him of the bounty Aimes has put on he and his friends' heads. But will she reach Dom before the mercenaries-for-hire looking to claim that bounty? More importantly, will Dom be able to save everyone he loves from Dante's wrath, especially when he's faced with an impossible choice?

Factor in the return of Dom and Mia's brother, Jakob (John Cena), as well as fellow antagonist-turned-ally Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), and what follows doesn't stray far from the series' familiar formula. This time, however, it would seem that the filmmakers have finally run out of road when it comes to delivering anything remotely resembling coherent storytelling. Whether it's a high-speed chase through the streets of Rome, in which the crew try to stop a giant, ball-shaped bomb from blowing up the Vatican, or an improbable escape from a heavily guarded CIA black site facility located in the middle of the Antarctic, what director Louis Leterrier and screenwriters Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin have created here feels less like a film and more like a series of blockbuster set pieces strung together with a threadbare narrative. Worst of all, though, is Momoa, whose tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the flamboyant Dante resonates as the franchise's least intimidating and most laughable Big Bad.

Make no mistake, hardcore Fast & Furious fans should still to be able to find plenty to love about the result, from the explosive action to the regular reminders about the utmost importance of family. What this latest entry lacks, unfortunately, is the ability to poke fun at itself without also becoming a parody of everything that the series stands for. It's a shortcoming previous installments largely succeeded at outrunning, thanks in huge part to their ingenious combination of big, dumb action, over-the-top ambition and genuine charm. Fast X, on the other hand, appears to have overlooked that very critical notion, proving that, alas, not all races can be won.

Fast X releases May 19th, 2023 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 21 min.

You May Also Like