‘Fast X’: Momoa, Mo Problems

Newest outing in the franchise has all the requisite feats, silliness

“Who said anything about landing?” So says Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) about his plans to reverse a Dodge Charger out of the rear of a military transport plane mid-flight. I laughed at that line, as did most of the opening-night crowd for Fast X.

What the hell can he mean? Surely he’s going to land sometime, somewhere. Gravity has little pull in the Fury-ast-i-verse (I’m workshopping it) but there’s no time or patience for Toretto to steer a hot rod into a multi-colored philosophical wormhole, à la 2001. Leave that shoe-gazey crap to all your Christopher Nolans. As it turns out, Dom sticks that landing and many fiery, infrastructure-puncturing other ones while racing to save his family.

Vin Diesel contemplates his next over-the-top car feat in ‘Fast X.’

Fast X is unreviewable. If you’re not Fast-curious by now, chances are that a whiff of NOS isn’t going to elicit a need for speed. On the flip side, “Justice4Han” hashtaggers aren’t going to be dissuaded by any of the brawny franchise’s flexes on physics. 

It’s hard to say when the series started getting downright cartoonish, but it hasn’t met a shark that isn’t jumpable. F9 sent some of them to space … in a homemade space car. The Fate of the Furious – that’s F8, for the uninitiated – featured a stolen nuclear sub confronted by Dom’s car, in a moment my friend called “the ultimate battle of Dom versus sub.” None of those things are critiques. I like all the shark jumping. So buckle up for a quick rundown of what to expect while I try to avoid spoilers.

FAST X ★★★(3/5 stars)
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Written by: Dan Mazeau, Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Jordana Brewster, Jason Statham, Jason Momoa, John Cena, Charlize Theron, Alan Ritchson, Brie Larson, Helen Mirren, Daniela Melchior, Rita Moreno, Scott Eastwood, some pictures of Kurt Russell, a heck of a lot of cars, and more special guest appearances
Running time: 141 min

Fast X starts ten years earlier, during the end of Fast Five as Dom, Brian (Paul Walker), and the crew heist a safe the size of a Brooklyn apartment from Brazilian drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Thanks to retconning, Reyes’s apparently half-pirate son, Dante (Jason Momoa) gets in on the Fast Five hot pursuit. Alas, Papa Reyes dies during the chase, along with half of Rio, a city I just realized has the same initials as Iron Man. Dante makes it out alive and vows revenge on Dom, his family, and buttoning shirts.

Cut to LA. Now. Dom’s living the good life with his beloved family, teaching his son Little B about drifting muscle cars and avoiding sleeves, and pulling occasional driving heist jobs for the CIA. As you do. 

When new old enemy Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up at Dom and Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) door to warn them that Dante has blackmailed every hacker and mercenary in the modern world, it’s clear that this bliss cannot last. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and crew are walking into a trap in Rome, ironically, that will turn the family, once again, into outlaws. Rebels. We will get no more scenes with Abuelita Toretto (Rita Moreno) in this movie. Qué malo. 

Fast X has all the things that I love about every movie in the series: at least one drag race where someone hits the nitrous too early, 5 million crashed cars, a cavalier attitude toward gravity, at least one or two bonkers stunts or fights I haven’t seen anywhere else, and Jason Statham. I’d watch Jason Statham order a meatloaf sandwich, though he probably never touches the stuff.

It’s also full of things I’ve never liked about these movies: drippy sentimentality and a lingering scent of soap opera. I also no longer trust that anyone dies. Like any person with a pulse and eyes, I love Han (Sung Kang). But reviving the character steered the films hard into fan fiction territory. Yet, I also know to expect that. Griping about it feels like saying a musical has too much singing. It’s a cinenovela, my dude. Get over it. 

Fast X has enough of its own whiz-bang highlights to distinguish it from the rest of the series. Momoa absolutely gnaws the scenery with a performance that feels equally inspired by NoHo Hank from Barry and his own work as Aquaman. A Letty-Cipher brawl gets an unexpected sci-fi-ish twist. John Cena has a ton of goofy fun tooling around with Little B in an especially awesome weaponized car. Brie Larson kicks things with a stunning array of bangin’ shoes. Oh, there’s a large man in a tiny plane! Most importantly, the car chases get bigger, bolder, goofier, and more Rube Goldberg-ian with every scene. 

In the end, isn’t that most of what fans want from the series? Jumping sharks is fine, as long as you keep sticking the landing. Then again, who said anything about landing?

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Jonpaul Henry Guinn

Jonpaul Henry Guinn is a freelance writer, Jeopardy also-ran, pub quiz host, and U.S. army veteran. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he oversees staffing and training for Geeks Who Drink.

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