Let’s talk about Fast X.
I’m probably not the right person to review this movie. I think the Fast and Furious franchise is rubbish. I don’t even like the ones people actually like. So when you get to the last few films that people don’t really like, you can imagine my reaction is going to be far from pleasant. And I’m going to give you a spoiler right now, this is not going to be a positive review. In fact, you could go back and read my review of the 9th film in the series and you would get the same gist that I’m going to give for this movie. So let’s get this done as soon as possible.
It seems like the family is settled but then a new villain emerges. Dante Reyes, the son of a drug lord that Dominic Turetto has killed in the past, is on the war path and wants to cause the most pain and suffering Dominic has ever suffered. With everything he has ever done under threat, Dom must go on the run to survive and beat this villain.
Stakes. Not only they delicious but they are vital for a film to work. You need to be put on edge that the characters you like are at risk of losing and/or dying. In order to this, you need to establish the rules of your universe and stick to them, or else the audience loses trust. Pretty much everything that is wrong with this movie is on the basis of this franchise just tearing its own rules down to for an easy happy moment. In terms of its action sequences, they regularly survive things that should kill a man. They even mocked this in the last movie, but didn’t address the core problem. In this movie, Dominic drives a car off onto a bridge, into a crane which then smashes into a bomb, and then he and his car smash into a wall. This should kill a man, or at least dehabilitate him to some extent. But he, and the car, carry on as normal. How can we care about an action scene when the characters will survive and suffer no scratches no matter what? Heck, even if they die they will probably come back to life for the next one
This then extends to the bigger moments as well as the film struggles to set up good stakes. Something that crops up in this franchise is that Vin Diesel has a massive ego who has it contractually obligated that he cannot lose a fight in these movies. This doesn’t help the quality of the movies. It’s a solid storytelling technique to batter your hero to their lowest low so they that can climb back and be triumphant by the end. This film wants to do that, this would make Jason Momoa’s Reyes the franchise’s most threatening villain ever and show this is something truly different. But they can’t even do that right. The low part comes after a mission to Rome turns out to be a trap. But instead of it being a true disaster where they completely lose, it actually feels like they got the better of the situation for the most part. Vin Diesel, lose the ego and lose a fight. It makes the films a lot better and adds a lot more tension.
But it’s not just that which makes this film a real struggle to watch. It feels like for the vast majority of the actors involved that they get their personalities drained before going on screen. Brie Larson is in this film and she is a lively performer who has previously done great work to make sure potentially dour characters have something about her. She can’t survive here though as she becomes ‘strong woman’ who is strong and also a woman. Michelle Rodriguez remains awful in this series and before, I kind of accepted it as I had never really thought much of her as an actor. But having seen her in Dungeons and Dragons the other month and seeing what she can offer, it makes the fact she’s so dull, and her character moronic at times, even worse. Vin Diesel is the worst though. He’s meant to be the emotional core of the movie but I’ve seen sheets of corrogated metal with more range. He mumbles every line like he’s an awful ASMR artist and I’m just in shock that we have had ten films of him being a terrible lead. There are some characters who get jokes like Tyrese and Ludacris, but they’re just badly written.
I do have to talk about Jason Momoa’s villain. If I can be a little positive, he’s having a lot of fun. He actually got the memo these films should probably have sillier tone than they do, a tone that would fit with some of the action scenes, and is having the time of his life. But it’s a very old fashioned villain that to plunder into my media textbook, is definitely gay coded. The idea is that his feminity and flamboyance completely contrasts with the ultra-masculinity of Vin Diesel. But I’m not really sure. It feels like they make the flamboyance into a joke and that we are definitely getting close to the ‘Is this homophobic’ line. I suspect we’ll see some articles saying as much over the next few weeks. Jason Momoa is probably the best thing about the film, but the amount of think pieces he’s going to generate will be tiresome.
There is so much more I could say. I could tell you about the script which is would have failed a SATS creative writing assignment for how basic and numbskull it is. You may say that the point of a Fast and Furious script is to simply come up with a way to get the characters from set piece to set piece but they’ve admitted that Mission: Impossible scripts are just that and they manage to sew the big action scenes together with some grace and intriguing plots. The action scenes feel lazy this time and they don’t even have the insanity that previous iterations had. They don’t even try to match going to space and it all feels very underwhelming. The opening is a rehash of a chase from Fast and Furious 5 and then what we get is edited with the grace of a monster truck with a flamethrower on each wheel. This is just a whole lot of bad.
Fast X is meant to be this franchise’s answer to Avengers: Infinity War. It’s meant to be a big epic that starts drawing all the characters from the series together ahead of an epic conclusion to the series which we’ll see in the already announced Part 2. But by trying to reach the stars, they crash and burn within a few minutes. This film has nothing going for it. The characters are a bore. The action is tired and repetitive. The script is what you’d get from ChatGPT if you were to ask it to write a Fast X movie. But worst of all, it feels like nothing matters because no one is at risk. Infinity War was such a hammer blow of a movie because it earned enough narrative trust the characters they killed off were going to stay dead and that it would be an almighty effort to get the dusted back, if they would even get brought back. Fast X is paying for the sins of it’s predecessors because we cannot buy into any tension as we know death in this series is as temporary as a Watford football manager. This is an awful movie and I am so excited to see this franchise finally end.