Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 21 minutes, Director – Louis Leterrier
Scattered across the globe Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family find themselves being hunted down in a deadly fight for survival against a vengeful figure (Jason Mamoa) who will destroy anything to kill them.
It’s largely accepted that the Fast And The Furious franchise turned around into ridiculous action around Fast Five. Now at the tenth instalment in the main franchise we’re certainly far from the days of drag race action and more minor heists which took place 20 years ago. Fast X is very much a combination of the old and the new, most prominently shown in the contrast between its main protagonist and antagonist.
Vin Diesel has long seemed to take this franchise much more seriously than anyone else involved. He’s certainly a key push in its longevity and is undeniably the face of it. Here more than in any other entry he gives a directly serious performance, although with glimpses of his own enjoyment, as returning Dominic Toretto, distanced from his family as they’re all scattered across the globe he faces his greatest, and deadliest threat yet. While Diesel’s performance might stand out from the louder moments of large-scale action it would be amiss to say that it feels out of place. Partly because such moments have become expected from this franchise but also because the film – perhaps not intentionally – feels like a big look back on the franchise as a whole. The more dramatic moments, mostly the more the film goes on, actually work. Perhaps not the strongest moments, but they eventually wind into the action fairly well.
Meanwhile, Jason Momoa gives the performance of someone who knows exactly what this franchise is, and has watched each of the films. In a film where giant bombs roll through cities and catch fire Dante is a camp, flamboyant, brightly-coloured villain (whose style is only outdone by Brie Larson’s Tess, the daughter of Kurt Russell’s Mr Nobody) who knows he’s the villain and is having great fun knowing that. He’s the kind of villain we don’t see much of in mainstream films these days and with just how much fun Momoa seems to be having in the role he’s a pure joy to see. He even has his own Caesar-Romero-Joker-style giggle as he attempts to destroy Toretto’s family, exacting revenge after the death of his father; Fast Five villain Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida).
Whilst the pair play cat and mouse around the world the rest of the Toretto clan are also unsafe, playing out their own separate escapades in different locations. Whether it be John Cena in a buddy-road-trip comedy with Leo Abelo Perry as uncle and nephew race around trying to get to a safe rendezvous point or Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel and the little-seen Sung Kang trying to figure out how a mission early in the film went so wrong there’s plenty to enjoy. Admittedly, the intentional humour in the latter grouping may not always come through but there’s still enough on display to entertain and keep things moving.
Yes, there may be some slight unintentional chuckles at the true absurdity of some of the action, but there’s a self-awareness to a number of the events which adds to the chaos on display. It’s mentioned that the central family often defy “the laws of God and gravity” with their various stunts, and to an extent that certainly happens here. Some of the dialogue appears to be written with a wry smile as we take a break from another off-the-wall set of explosive, engine-roaring circumstances – some of which come with a genuine feeling of tension as you simply sit back and enjoy the thrill of it all.
Again, a lot of what works within Fast X may not be entirely intentional, some of it might be slightly looking a bit too much into it. But, regardless, there’s still a deeply entertaining film here. One that comes with a layer of self-awareness when it comes to the action and manages to make a well-flowing piece of work which conjures up plenty of laughs and tension. It’s exactly the kind of film which audiences have begun to turn to this franchise for.
Ridiculously entertaining with its explosive action a lot of the joy of Fast X comes from its self-awareness, assisted by Jason Momoa’s joyous villain turning up the camp. There may be some tonal shifts with each group, but they all work as a whole when not entirely in the straight dramatic. For the most part it’s a highly enjoyable, nonsensical actioner.