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MOVIES: Fast X - Review

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For family. The Fast and Furious saga has had a long and lengthy journey to this point; from humble origins on a street racing circuit steeling DVD players to literally sending cars into space: Fast X attempts to find the fine line between the absurdity of the franchise’s evolution and the grounded nature of its origins in the first part of a concluding, planned trilogy of films that look set to conclude the saga of Dominic Toretto and his superhero family of streetracers. The message isn’t subtle: this is a movie about family, and how they’re pushed to the limit – time and time again – and must deal with the consequences of the actions of the past.

It's a bold move for director Louis Leterrier to open with a conclusion of one of the best sequences in the entire franchise; where Vin Diesel’s Dom and Paul Walker’s Brian steal a bank vault from a safe in Rio and pull it away; hounded by hordes of corrupt police officers. Among the pursuers is Jason Momoa’s Dante Reyes, son of the formidable mob boss who becomes a causality of the escape attempt, and vows revenge. Cut to the present day where he has taken down Charlize Theron’s Cipher and established himself as the latest antagonist in the franchise; a formidable badass that’s so aware of exactly what this franchise needs it was only a matter of time before Vin Diesel was to blame Momoa for the film’s bad reviews. But Momoa is not the issue here: if anything, Momoa is the one making it watchable, the right amount of camp, absurdity and energy of chaos needed that he makes all the average films that he’s been in the past likeable, right back to his Stargate: Atlantis days – Momoa’s screen presence is something of unmatched charisma. He’s the clear standout here, whereas the rest of the film is struggling with the problem of the absence of Paul Walker, trying to pretend that his character Brian is still alive and a presence in the film, but just off screen - even when this such a threat you'd find it hard to believe that he'd not want to get involved.

One of the weakest parts of the movie continues to be the film’s structure and reliance on God’s Eye, and Mr. Nobody’s legacy with tons of secret bases around the world. It’s by far the least believable of the franchise and functions of an introduction to Mr. Nobody’s daughter, played by Brie Larson, a character so forgettable you’ll wonder why she was there at all – as fun as Larson is – and the sci-fi technology feels like it kind of isn’t really needed at all. At best, the most fun thing to come out of it is a chase between Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty and Cipher when they’re trying to escape captivity whilst fighting each other – and the comic relief that follows Rodriguez’s own Die Hard attempt gives it a sense of agency. But you could pick the flaws in this franchise apart all day if you wanted to, and the ultimate question remains: is this a good Fast & Furious movie? Do you believe that the physics of the world exist in the world (the important distinction between these movies and reality) and do you believe in Dom’s journey?

The answer is let’s be honest, probably not. Dom’s journey feels flawed, like a connect-the-dots of the movie trying to link together everything to make the franchise even more convoluted than what’s come before. It borrows from Sam Mendes’ Spectre which attempted to do the same thing with mixed results: remember the scene in the MI6 headquarters where Bond was faced with a past reckoning and new villains showed up as the biggest threat yet that were linked to the past ones? That’s the same here – there are positives, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris’ chemistry is better than actors who play actual lovers, but for every positive there’s a negative: all the good work with John Cena’s character, introduced in the last movie as Jakob, is undone in one quick swoop as he just becomes Peacemaker 2.0 (cementing Dave Bautista as the best wrestler-to-actor so far).

That said, with everything here – considering the absurdity of the franchise and well, gesturing at everything – it’s a film straight out of the 90s and hard not to find at least some form of enjoyment out of it. Momoa’s villain is queer-coded, so blatantly there’s no hidden argument against – and the stakes are raised high enough for one of the best finales in the franchise. It’s bombastic, operatic, and truly insane on all levels and I’m almost impressed that Louis Leterrier was able to salvage any of the bad things about this movie by the end and accomplish that feat of impossible entertainment a quarter mile at a time. It’s a cliffhanger that joins the latest part ones of 2023 in style: and I’m sure this will be the most insane of them all. There’s fun set pieces prior: I liked the one in Rome, the highlight of the movie, and the obligatory street race thrills, but Fast X is at its strongest right before the end: and even though it may be the weakest in the series to date save Hobbs & Shaw, and it may for all intents and purposes be bad, this series defies all logic by continuing to be watchable no matter what happens. As a result, it’s the ultimate unreviewable film: picking holes in it feels pointless, because no matter what I’ll be there opening day for the next one.

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