Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Written by: Dan Mazeau, Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Momoa, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Charlize Theron, Rita Moreno
Released: May 18, 2023
Grade: C+

Fast X

There’s only so much juice you can squeeze from a single orange.  That’s the first thought which came to mind as the credits rolled on Fast X, the latest in the long-running Fast and the Furious franchise which began with a simpler, humbler film back in 2001.  Based on what’s served up here over 141 minutes, there’s nothing more this series can offer in terms of action sequences and character development.  It only continues as a money-making vehicle for the studio and key cast members.

The film opens with our car-loving heroes being secretly engaged by government head honchoes to recover stolen military hardware in Rome.  It turns out the whole thing is a ruse and, after being framed for a terrorist attack which almost destroys Vatican City, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) becomes the world’s most wanted criminal.  He and his crew are forced into hiding and must formulate a plan to clear their names.

The bad guy is Dante Reyes (Momoa), a relaxed, happy-go-lucky Brazilian goon looking to avenge his father’s death who was killed off at the end of 2011’s Fast Five.  If you’re not in the mood to revisit/remember that effort, a quick re-cap is provided at the start of Fast X.  As the villain, Jason Momoa is the best thing in this.  His camp, comedic, over-the-top turn brings back memories of Javier Bardem’s scene-stealing performance in Skyfall.  It’s as if Momoa’s character is the only one in the movie who realises the narrative is farcical and so plays it for maximum silliness.  The others are far too serious.

The rest of the movie is stuff we’ve seen before.  The heroes miraculously have time for deep, idea-sharing conversations before having to make split second decisions (like stopping a giant, rolling bomb).  Dom constantly reminds us about the importance of family (“without family, you’ve got nothing”) and puts his life in danger again and again because of his “faith.”  Oh, and the filmmakers continue with the annoying idea that the late Paul Walker still exists within the Fast and the Furious universe… even though we never see him.

If you’re at the film’s two-hour mark and wondering how the 14,000 open plot lines will be resolved in the final moments, the answer is they won’t be.  Vin Diesel stated at the world premiere that Fast X is likely to the first in a three-part trilogy that will bring a close to the franchise.  A quick scene part way through the closing credits provides a glimpse of what’s in store for the next movie (scheduled to be released in two years).

It was a bumpy ride for the cast and crew… both on and off the screen.  Director Justin Lin (F9) quit a week into principal photography after a falling out (if you believe the tabloids) with Vin Diesel over the script.  French director Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2, Now You See Me) then took over.  I’m interested to see what long-time fans think of this and where it ranks.  Plenty of money has been splashed around on the sizeable cast and elaborate, CGI-laden action but does it add up to anything memorable?  I’m not convinced.