Let’s play a game: Picture a Fast Saga action sequence. Dom’s crew dragging a vault down a highway in Rio. Vin Diesel dropping a parking garage on Jason Statham (who is somehow not horrifically crippled afterward). Michelle Rodriguez harpooning Gina Carano out of a plane as it’s speeding down the tarmac. Doesn’t matter which one. Dreamer’s choice. Now, mentally swap out Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, etc. with any of the Looney Tunes. The effect is more or less the same.
Love it or hate it, The Fast and the Furious brand has gotten so much mileage out of its cartoonish approach to action that it’s tough to dismiss its charm. Its latest installment, the big, messy, brazen Fast X, is every bit as silly and platitude-heavy as its predecessors, but with an added advantage: Jason Momoa. The guy is the chest-baring, twinkle-eyed embodiment of twisted playfulness, a show-stopping, femme-forward villain who immediately cements himself as one of the greatest characters in the series. Momoa is effortlessly outrageous and tough to categorize, as if he’s waited his entire career to shed the machismo of roles past and try out something a bit less archetype-y. If it weren’t for him, this entry would easily be among the worst in the franchise.
Fast X follows Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), his brother Jakob (John Cena) and their chosen family as they square off against Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), the vengeful son of deceased Fast Five baddie Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Director Louis Leterrier, taking the reins from franchise veteran Justin Lin, can’t bring the energy and polish that elevated the outstanding Fast Five, but he piles on just enough high-stakes action and ludicrous stunts to make its bloated runtime reasonably fun.
But as gimmicky as they’ve become, there is something beautiful and brazen about the way these movies contort reality to fit their own outrageous needs. Gravity doesn’t apply to Dom and co. the way it does for the rest of us, and nearly every major character death – even seemingly final ones – has been walked back. Oh, and physics! Wait, what physics? Fast X is as disinterested in reality as any of its predecessors were, and it isn’t shy about it.
The bottom line? Fast X is so dedicated to individual moments, so focused on maintaining its excess, that it forgets it’s all supposed to add up to a story. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it does mean you need to check your expectations at the door.