“Fast X,” the 10th entry in the “Fast & Furious” franchise
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Written by: Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin
Starring: A cast of thousands, including Vin Diesel, Jason Momoa, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, John Cena, Jason Statham, Sung Kang, Alan Ritchson, Daniela Melchiorr, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson, Rita Moreno, Michael Rooker
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive material, language
Run time: 2 hours, 21 minutes
Release date: In wide release in theaters on May 19, 2023
Where I saw it: Republic Studio 10 Cinemas in Shelbyville, Ind., on a Wednesday night, $7 (with senior discount), eight other people in the theater
What it’s about: Fast cars, faith and family. Mostly family. But also, a terrifying threat (Momoa as Dante Reyes) emerges and seeks revenge on Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family (there’s that word again).
What I liked about it: The familiar “Fast and Furious” gang is back (some of them unexpected … hint, hint), but this is Momoa’s show, and “Fast X” rises, falls, flatlines and rises again on the shoulders of his hammy performance. Momoa is in most every moment that does not involve Dom blah-blah-blahing about faith, family, legacy and such as sentimental music drones on, and Momoa is in turns hilarious, menacing, campy, annoying, repetitive and quite obviously basking in the spotlight. His Dante clearly is a riff on Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, only (because this is a F&F movie) bigger and louder and … more gay. Maybe. Were this an artsier, more ambitious film, I would think that his character’s flamboyancy (if that’s an OK word) was a purposeful juxtaposition against the relentless brooding, sleeveless-shirts machismo of Dom and Co. But given that this is a fan-pleasing action franchise entry made to formula, the painted nails, hair in rollers, pink bath robe, costume jewelry, effeminate body language and lavender muscle car (really!) are played for giggles and possibly shock value. Through it all, Momoa makes for a can’t-look-away villain. … I’m not sure if this is supposed to be the comedy hit of the Summer 2023 season, but I laughed out loud a lot. And occasionally threw up my hands, as in “Whaaaatttt?!?!?” Though these movies shamelessly give the people what they want, each new entry also must find a way to escalate the ridiculousness, and this one won’t disappoint in that regard. An on-fire bomb rolling through the streets of Rome, a bank vault being dragged down a highway by two cars, a car being used as a tether for flaming helicopters used as battering rams, a car (from a dead start) climbing over and through a concrete wall at the top of a dam and somehow landing on a road a long way down, and a flying kid (!) are clues that this is no documentary. Or even remotely related to reality. But it’s a whole lot of dumb, unbelievable fun.
What I didn’t like about it: Beyond the “wow!” factor, there isn’t much here that would qualify a movie as “good,” per se. Stretches of it are notably dull (or maybe just too familiar), the revolving door of characters (some of them are in the movie only briefly) and the quick-cut editing feel like white noise after a while, the comedy is hit-and-miss (and much of it whiffs by a lot), and the sentimentality is maudlin (to put it kindly). Take Momoa out of this movie and there isn’t much left for it to stand on unless you are a diehard follower of the franchise. “Fast X” is doing well at the box office, but more so overseas (it cost $340 million to make) than in the States, perhaps an indication that the domestic audience is growing tired of the franchise. That or they don’t just get the importance of faith and family.
Who it will appeal to: The same audience the franchise has appealed to for 22 years now.
My score: 50 out of 100.