The evolution of the Fast And Furious franchise has been remarkable to behold. What started out as a relatively modest $38 million-budget action heist film in 2001 has, over the course of 10 instalments, exploded into a series of bombastic, globe-trotting blockbusters that revel in being as high-octane, death-defying and unbelievable as they can.
They’re also extremely popular all across the world, too, and its films have a combined gross of more than $6.6 billion at the box office.
Universal has such high hopes for Fast X that they even allowed its budget to balloon to a reported cost of $340 million. The studio will be hoping audiences return to the franchise in their droves after the disappointing box office returns of F9. To attract them, Vin Diesel recently confirmed Fast X is the first of a trilogy that will be bring the franchise to a close.
Set several years after the events of F9, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is living a peaceful life in Los Angeles with his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry). This is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a wounded Cipher (Charlize Theron), the cyberterrorist who has thwarted Dom in the past.
Cipher warns that Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) is seeking revenge on Dom and his crew after they killed his father Hernan (Joaquim de Almeida) all the way back in Fast Five. Dante shows how dangerous he is by putting Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Megan (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Han (Sung Kang) in grave danger in Rome. Soon the ensemble have to travel to the likes of London, Rio de Janeiro and Portugal to try to bring Dante’s exploits to an end.
Fast X is equally ridiculous and fun. The stunts repeatedly defy the laws of gravity, physics, science and safe parenting but that’s exactly what you want them to do. If you leave your brain at the door and embrace the excitement that it’s trying so hard to provide, there’s no reason why Fast X shouldn’t deliver.
At no point does its 2 hour, 21 minute running time drag. That’s despite the fact that its dialogue is as wooden and predictable as ever and its script lacks the genuine laughs of its predecessors.
What really makes Fast X so thoroughly entertaining is the performance of Jason Momoa. The Aquaman star is having an absolute ball playing the dastardly villain Dante.
Clearly inspired by Heath Ledger’s Joker, you can’t take your eyes off of Dante when he’s on screen, especially as he takes such great delight in being as psychotic and sadistic as possible. Every dastardly deed he commits is accompanied by a laugh that proves contagious, helping to make Fast X more pleasing and engrossing than it has any right to be.
John Cena also excels as Dom’s younger brother Jakob, and his scenes with Perry are the funniest in the film. Considering how Fast X splits the Toretto crew up early on, and the film has to juggle at least five plots for long periods, screenwriters Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin, and director Louis Leterrier deserve praise for their pacing and structuring, particularly Leterrier, who stepped in to direct Fast X when Lin walked out after the first week of production.
While Fast X doesn’t quite deliver a satisfactory conclusion, its ending at least sets up the final entries in tantalising fashion. Ultimately, Fast X doesn’t get anywhere near the highs of the franchise, but it does lay down the road for what will hopefully be an explosive and crowd-pleasing farewell.