The world’s best street racers are back again to save the world in Fast X, an enjoyably silly adventure that turns out to be a return to form for the franchise after the disappointing F9 (2021).
Most fans would agree that one of the best films of the series is Fast Five (2011). It is here where the formula for the series going forward was properly cemented so it makes sense that this new entry harkens back to it, with the film opening with the closing events of the film where Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) towed a vault through the busy streets of Rio.
This time the events are slightly altered to include the involvement of an unseen antagonist. Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) is the son of Fast Five’s villain Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) who through a bit of retconning was involved in that film’s finale. After the death of his father Dante has set his mind to destroying Dom and all those who are close to him and spent the last 12 years putting his plan into motion.
Dante sets out by setting Dom and the rest of his team/family up for a major terrorist attack in Rome which puts them against the Agency, their former employees. With both the Agency and Dante on their trail, Dom and the team have to turn to a number of allies both old and new in order to clear their names as well as ensure their survival.
It’s been something of a rocky road (no pun intended) for Fast X to reach the screen. Somewhat controversially, original director Justin Lin walked off the project only a week into filming, leaving the production into disarray. This was surprising considering Lin had already helmed 5 entries in the franchise, with him being one of the leading forces in making the series what it is today.
Stories have since come out about the creative differences he and leading man Vin Diesel had for the franchise, with sources stating that Diesel was continuously making changes to Lin’s script and tailoring the action to better suit himself. Obviously this is all hearsay, but it wouldn’t be the first time there has been rumblings of animosity between the cast and crew of the F&F series.
It was thought at the time the producers may have looked back at previous franchise directors such as James Wan or F. Gary Gray before deciding on Louis Leterrier, who based on his previous work with The Transporter franchise is the perfect choice of director for a Fast and the Furious film. Leterrier brings his considerable action experience to Fast X, with the set pieces including all the physics defying car chases, fight scenes and shootouts that the series has become famous for.
Although Leterrier has stated that he wanted to make Fast X more grounded in reality than previous films in the series, the resulting 141 minutes are still ridiculously over the top, with the ensuing action being a far cry from where the series originally started back in 2000. Each of the film’s set pieces seems like an attempt to outdo the last, with each increasing in scope and scale.
The clear standouts for me was the attempted heist/double cross in Rome which involves Dom and his team trying to survive continuing attacks from Dante while at the same time stopping a bomb which is heading towards the Vatican. The explosion heavy finale is also worth the price of admission, featuring excellent vehicular stunt work as well as some surprisingly decent CGI. Surprisingly decent because it is somewhat ropy in other sections of the film. Thankfully, the pace and energy of the film paper over such shortcomings.
However, as well as some poor CGI, the action does have some other minor issues. Considering his previous experience with the Transporter series, I didn’t expect Letterier to employ the use of shaky-cam during the fight scenes. Now it isn’t as bad as something like the Bourne series or the more recent Assassin Club (2023), but it’s still something of a distraction during otherwise well choreographed fight sequences. Perhaps the reasoning behind its use was to get around the PG-13 rating, as there is a fair amount of violence involved in the film, even if for the most part it is blood free.
In any other film, this could be enough to derail it, but the remainder of the vehicular action is so over the top and fun that I could easily forgive some slight misgivings in the more physical action scenes. Even with some shaky-cam, I must admit I got a kick out of seeing John Cena take down a houseful of bad guys with ease.
Justin Lin may have vacated the director’s chair, but he is still listed as a producer and writer on the finished film. Now, it’s unclear how much of his script reached the screen with the reports of the changes being made, but I must admit that the script is a more humorous affair than the last few films, with it being especially favorable to franchise newcomer Jason Momoa as well as returnee John Cena whose character has clearly been modified to better suit the actors’ strengths.
There is a serious case of retconning going on to fit the plot around the characters, something that has happened multiple times in the franchise, so to grumble at this late stage in the game would seem pointless. You are better just embracing this aspect of the film, with the particular retcon involved in Fast X actually allowing for one of the serie’s best villains yet in Jason Momoa’s Dante.
With the series’ reluctance to kill off characters, it is now becoming overstuffed. Even with an 141 minute runtime, there just isn’t enough time to give every character their own fair share of screen time. This is even more apparent with some of the new inclusions to the cast such as Brie Larson and Daniela Melchior.
Of course Vin Diesel has the most, which isn’t surprising. He doesn’t exactly stretch himself, but is his reliably stoic self. Typically Dom is willing to put “family” above everything, and he certainly has to prove it here with the stakes never being higher. Other than the opening of the film, Diesel spends most of his screen time apart from the main cast, with Dom pretty much going solo in his attempts to stop Dante.
In terms of action, for the most part Diesel is sitting behind the wheel of a car, with his only physical altercation being roughly midway through the film with a brief shootout and fight scene that takes place on the same bridge as the finale of Fast Five.
There is still a massive hole felt in the cast through the absence of the late Paul Walker. What makes it worse is how characters keep bringing him up which I feel negates the Brian character. Would someone so heroic truly leave his friends and family in the lurch? I also brought this up previously in my F9 review, but it’s really about time the filmmakers made a definitive decision in regards to his character. I understand they feel it’s a tribute to Walker but at this stage it’s more of a detriment.
Thankfully the supporting cast help cover for this hole that Walker has left, with Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang and Nathalie Emmanuel all working well together in an offshoot of the main team. They don’t have as much screen time as Diesel, but their side mission ties importantly into the main plot and also allows for the return of Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw.
Fans of Statham may be disappointed by how little screen time he has, with his role mostly being an extended cameo. He does still get in one good fight scene which works more of a taster for things to come, with Shaw no doubt playing a more integral part in Fast X’s sequel.
As mentioned, new additions Brie Larson and Daniela Melchior are pretty much surplus to requirements. I assume Larson will play a more important part moving forward with her character being linked to the elusive Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), whose absence is truly felt. Fingers crossed Russell returns in the future.
Still, not all the new additions are disappointing. Jason Momoa truly makes an impression, chewing the scenery with glee every time he appears. The flamboyant Dante is a real standout amongst other F&F villains, with him seriously putting our heroes through the ringer. Unlike Statham’s Deckard or Cena’s Jacob, I really can’t see this character being redeemed and joining our heroes in a new adventure.
Speaking of Cena, he also has terrific fun as Jacob, with many of his scenes being played for laughs. The relationship between him and his nephew Brian (Leo Abelo Perry) injects a bit of heart into proceedings. Clearly the screenwriters realized giving Cena an overly serious role in the last film wasn’t for the best, with him almost stealing the show this time round as the goofy uncle willing to do whatever it takes to keep his nephew safe.
Cena isn’t the only character to go through a change since the last film. Charlize Theron returns as the villainous Cipher, with her getting a lot more to do than F9, with Theron getting to take part in a couple of notable action scenes, with her face off with Michelle Rodriguez being particularly memorable. It was nice to see Theron back in action mode after impressing in the likes of Atomic Blonde (2017) and The Old Guard (2020).
Although Fast X isn’t perfect, it proves to be terrific fun, ticking off all the boxes of what most people probably look for in action movies. Some may scoff at how ridiculous events become, but if that’s the case, this clearly isn’t the film for you. While I enjoyed the last film in the series, upon reviewing it doesn’t live up to other entries. I can’t see this being an issue with Fast X, especially with how the ending leaves things. Fans won’t be able to wait until 2025 to see what comes next.
People may read my review and think I am being overly generous, and maybe the action should be lower than a 4, but personally I think Fast X deserves an overall 4 just because of the amount of fun I had with it.
Plot: 4/5 Acting: 4/5 Action: 4/5 Overall: 4/5