The Fast and the Furious film franchise began way back in 2001. Since then, characters have come and gone. Timelines have been jumbled and rearranged. Physics have become increasingly ignored, and any logic is pushed aside in favor of nitrous-boosted action. Moreover, a diverse cast and a message of family are themes that have greatly contributed to the franchise’s staying power. Fast X is the latest installment of the franchise, and for better or for worse it got this writer thinking, so I decided to share “X” of these thoughts. So be warned, spoilers ahead.
I. I Miss Paul Walker
It is evident that the feeling is not singular. The actor tragically lost his life in a car accident back in 2013. The franchise has more than treated the passing of Walker with class and respect, deciding to retire the Brian O’Conner character rather than killing him off. Fast X is no different in its approach. The movie begins with a reenactment of the Fast Five heist scene. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and O’Connor drag a vault through the streets of Rio de Janeiro in hot pursuit. The outcome of this scene sets up the events of Fast X. The decision to revisit this moment undoubtedly will give fans of the franchise the “feels” and remind us how sorely Paul Walker is missed.
II. Oh cool, a Delorean
Probably the single most famous car in cinematic history makes its return to the big screen early on in Fast X. It’s a blink-and-you-’ll-miss-it moment as the car arrives at the Toretto’s home driven by a badly beaten Cipher (Charlize Theron). This Delorean is an updated all-electric model that may or may not go into production, but its inclusion follows a tradition of showcasing prototypes in the franchise. The scene also follows the tradition of turning the big bad into an ally. “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” or something like that. Speaking of enemies…
III. Jason Momoa was in Fast Five???
Sort of? Remember that vehicle that “vaulted” into the water in Fast Five? You will when you see Fast X. Anyway, Momoa’s character, Dante Reyes was in said vehicle. Luckily, he is also Aquaman so he could swim out of there unscathed. His Dad is dead so five movies later he decides to avenge his family. Momoa plays his character with glee, dancing his way through scenes being equal parts menacing and ridiculous. He seems to be the only person in the movie having any fun at all, delivering cringe-worthy lines and outdated jokes with sufficient panache to be eye-rollingly entertaining. The queer villain trope may be borderline problematic, but Momoa delivers a performance that instantly makes the character the most memorable antagonist of the franchise.
IV. It should’ve stopped rolling by now, no?
There’s a rolling bomb in Fast X. In another blatant attempt at ignoring physics, the said bomb is in moto perpetuo (only possible in a perfect vacuum), wreaking all sorts of havoc in Rome, not by detonating, but by rolling, rolling, rolling. Dom manages to stop the rolling bomb, only for it to begin its dastardly run yet again. In between clumsy cuts at the hands of director Louis Leterrier, the spherical combustion chamber directs its way towards the Vatican (because nothing says supervillain like killing family, in this case, the Holy one), but not before Dom finds his way back to the bomb and catapults his car into a crane in order to turn the crane at the exact moment needed to bat the big bad bomb into the water. That’s a horrible run-on sentence, but let’s keep it rolling along. Once in the water, the bomb finally stops rolling.
V. Huh, Captain Marvel is here too.
With over 10 million comic book adaptations (give or take) you’d be hard-pressed to find an actor that hasn’t been in either a DCU or MCU movie or show. Heck, Peacemaker is here too! Brie Larson makes her Fast & Furious debut playing Tess, Mr. Nobody’s (Kurt Russell) daughter. Tess seems as if she was written into this movie because Russell is seemingly done with the franchise and because somebody had to stab Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) for…reasons? I’m not sure, but Captain Nobody is here.
VI. Wait, Jack Reacher??
Alan Ritchson plays Jack Reacher in the series Jack Reacher. Here he plays Two-Face. Fun fact: he also played Raphael in the latest live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, yet another comic book tie-in. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also played Aquaman, so that should tell you where his allegiance lies in Fast X. The inclusion of the Aimes character seems to further prove that Kurt Russell might indeed be done with the movie series.
VII. Why so serious?
Last comic book movie tie-in, I swear. Vin Diesel is very serious in Fast X. Sure, Dante is looking to destroy his family, but that has always been the main threat. The Fate of the Furious featured a scene where bad guy turned good guy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) fights villains to the death on an airplane, all while juggling a baby. This proves a fun and humorous scene can be crafted even under the most dire circumstances. Vin Diesel has settled on playing Dom with a self-seriousness that threatens to make the character unrecognizable. Overall the movie packs all the wild fast and furious action of the previous installments but has forgotten to accept the fun and ridiculousness of the whole affair.
VIII. I wonder if my car can do that?
Honestly, the entire franchise makes audiences wonder whether their boring yet reliable crossover or sedan can withstand the punishment Dom’s multiple Dodge Chargers go through. Cars and, to a certain extent, racing are pillars of the franchise. Even though the racing part has not been as prominent since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast X has a short scene set in the racing underworld that serves as a nice callback to the beginnings of the franchise. The car action is alive and well, however. And no, your car can’t do that, but they make you wonder, don’t they?
IX. I wonder how they bring Jakob back.
If you’ve made it this far, dear reader, I can only surmise you do not care much for quality writing or for getting movies spoiled. Jakob (John Cena) dies. He flips his car during his final act of physics-defying valor and sacrifices himself to save Dom and Dom’s son Little B (Leo Abelo Perry). At this point in the franchise, audiences should know no one stays dead forever. That’s the power of family. Speaking of otherworldly comebacks…
X. She’s back!!
Breaking through the ice of Antarctica, the nuclear submarine makes its long-awaited comeback. How many submarines does Cipher have access to? And what role will it play in Fast X Part 2? Oh, Gal Gadot’s Gisele is also back because of course she is. Of course, Gadot has also played…never mind. I can’t wait to see zombie boyfriend Han’s (Sung Kang) reaction.
X part 2. I knew I smelled something that was cooking.
So, is he like back-back? Remember when Fast Five teased Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) making a comeback, but we never saw her again after that?? Don’t mess with us Fast and Furious.
Fast X parks itself in the bottom five of the franchise so far. The action sets are there, but the fun is mostly gone. Still, there is some joy that comes from visiting family. With at least one more chapter to go, let’s hope the series injects fun and self-awareness back into our family.