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‘Fast X’ Review: Jason Momoa Makes a Memorable Villain in an Action-Stuffed Franchise Installment That’s for Fans Only



The Fast and Furious Movies may all be about fast cars, but the franchise has gotten so congested it’s a wonder they’re able to break the speed limit.

The latest installment in this surprisingly durable series jams in so many existing and new characters, both living and presumed dead, that just creating the call sheets must have been a nightmare. There are so many lovingly displayed photographs of current and former cast members on display throughout the film you begin to wonder if you’re watching an action movie or the world’s most violent bar-mitzvah.

Fast X

The Bottom Line

Spoiler alert: Vehicles will be wrecked.

Release date: Friday, May 19
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jason Momoa, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, John Cena, Jason Statham, Sung Kang, Alan Ritchson, Daneila, Melchior, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson, Rita Moreno
Director: Louis Leterrier
Screenwriters: Justin Lin, Dan Mazeau

Rated PG-13, 2 hours 21 minutes

Considering the amount of money these films have made for Universal, and the fact that the series has gone longer than many of its current viewers will have been alive, it’s hard to blame Vin Diesel and company for taking a victory lap. Or laps, as this supposed end to the franchise (please contact me about the bridge I’m selling) has recently been rumored to be the first of not two parts but three.

This edition provides more of what its fans have come to expect, and by “more” I mean “MORE.” As in more characters, more stunts, more explosions, more chases, more locations, more everything. thank you Fast X doesn’t venture into outer space, which should really be left to James Bond and Tom Cruise. The film also harkens back to its hardscrabble beginnings by featuring a mid-film racing scene between its main hero and villain for no apparent reason whatsoever. But then again, there’s always time in this cinematic universe for a totally extraneous street race.

This universe has gotten so convoluted that non-rabid fans should prepare to do serious homework before seeing this installment directed by series newcomer Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Now you see Me), who stepped in on short notice when original director Justin Lin backed out after coming to the conclusion that “this movie is not worth my mental health.”

On the other hand, even the most diligent preparation isn’t likely to do much good, considering that the characters flit from being alive to dead, heroes to villains, or even in the film to not, depending on the screenwriters’ whims and contract. negotiations. While much of this is shameless, you can’t fault the creators for keeping alive the memory of the late Paul Walker, whose character reappears here via footage from Fast Five.

That’s because Fast X is directly connected to that predecessor in that the main baddie in this one, Dante (Jason Momoa), turns out to be the son of the Brazilian drug kingpin killed by Dom Toretto (Diesel) and his crew back in 2011. And don’t blame your memory if you don’t remember Momoa appearing in that elaborate chase on the bridge in that film. He’s been retconned into the footage to make it clear that Dante holds a very strong grudge over his father’s death. It seems that Dom isn’t the only one in this series who gets emotional over the loss of family members.

Momoa, it turns out, is one of the best things to ever happen to the franchise. He’s the best villain by far (not to mention that he does many of his own stunts) and thoroughly steals the film with his delightfully unhinged portrayal of Dante, who interrupts his nefarious activities to inform the ever-macho Dom that his “carpet matches the drapes.” Momoa is not exactly an actor associated with lightness, but here he practically dances the role as much as acts it, taking such frenetically gleeful delight in his character’s sadistic taunting that you practically root for him even when he threatens to destroy the Vatican. He gives the impression of having huffed nitrous oxide before every take. Dante makes the Joker look like a depressive, and he’s so damn entertaining that he lifts the series to new heights.

He’s not the only newcomer on display in the cast, which includes Brie Larson as a rogue agent of the Agency; Alan Richtson (like Momoa, an Aquaman veteran) as the agency’s new head; Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad) as a Brazilian street racer with past ties to Dom; and Rita Moreno as Dom and Mia’s (Jordana Brewster) beloved abuelita. Other than making an emotional speech at, what else, a family gathering, Moreno’s character has no particular reason for being in the film, other than when you have the opportunity to cast Rita Moreno, you take it.

The core crew — including Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, etc. — is back, except this time they’re divided into various groups scattered across the globe, the better to showcase locations including Rome, Lisbon and London, among others. (I assume the film didn’t actually shoot in Antarctica, where some scenes are set, but with this kind of money involved you never know.) Needless to say, most of these cities become the worse for wear from the experience, especially Rome. , which suffers mightily as a result of an extravagant chase sequence and a massive bomb going off. With both this film and the upcoming Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One nearly laying the city to waste, it wouldn’t be surprising if skittish tourists avoid the Spanish Steps for a while.

It’s fun just waiting for the next Oscar winner to incongruously appear, from Larson (clearly having a blast straddling both this and the Marvel worlds) to Helen Mirren (still crushing on Diesel) to Charlize Theron, once again kicking ass as Cipher. Except this time, Cipher is on the same side as Dom because, as she explains it, “The enemy of my enemy is you.” Other returning cast members include John Cena as Dom’s brother Jakob, now a good guy (trying to keep up), Scott Eastwood as the agent “Little Nobody,” and Jason Statham, who hasn’t exactly lightened up. There are also numerous cameo appearances that won’t be revealed here, even though a cursory internet check will uncover them, including one featuring a certain former Saturday Night Live cast member who appears in an elongated unfunny episode that stops the picture cold.

The standout is Cena, displaying charm and solid comic chops in the numerous scenes in which Jakob protects Dom’s young son (Leo Abelo Perry, delivering perfectly calibrated wide-eyed stares) from Dante’s clutches. This includes the pair escaping a passenger plane filled with bad guys by taking off in, what else, a smaller plane located in the cargo hold.

Twice in the film, giant lumbering objects ricochet through crowded city streets wreaking absolute havoc in their wake. They’re perfect visual metaphors for the movies themselves, so stuffed with over-the-top mayhem and testosterone-packed macho aggressiveness that they’ve become utterly ridiculous. What saves Fast X is that it’s so aware of its own absurdity that it becomes an entertaining parody of itself. Why else would one of the characters point out, “The real question is, how did we let this go on so long?” It seems a safe bet that this opening weekend’s grosses will provide enough of an explanation.

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