Despite all odds (depending on who you ask), the Fast and the Furious franchise has reached its tenth film and is over twenty years old. What started as a series about street racing and fancy sports cars is now a globe-trotting, basically sci-fi action film series. There are still fancy cars, sort of. Though most of the films have not been critical darlings, some of the more winking entries have managed to generate some degree of appreciation.
Fast X continues the franchise’s story as Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang are relaxing and enjoying their family lives when asked to retrieve a computer chip in Rome. Chaos ensues from there as the son of an enemy from the past (Jason Momoa) seeks revenge against the gang and starts a campaign of tearing apart the lives of its members. The team is pushed to the brink of ruin as they trot across the world trying to stay safe.
X doesn’t suffer from a problem it easily could have, that is, the script being a giant mess of confused happenings. To the film’s credit, everyone has understandable objectives. However, the script achieves this by boiling everything down to simplistic aims, resulting in a very stagnant feel despite the international nature and two hour-plus runtime. Most of the characters are just trying to reach an unknown safe location that they were apparently told to go to in the event the group was attacked.
The film doesn’t bother to catch you up on the relations of the various characters or what they are known for. For a relative newbie to the franchise, the characters’ histories are unclear. People played by actors such as Charlize Theron, Scott Eastwood, and Jason Statham come and go in minutes without any real explanation. This is perhaps an unfair criticism for a tenth entry in a franchise, but it leaves many scenes lacking in emotional weight.
The direction reaches a bare level of competency, though some of the action scenes are so silly that it becomes hard to tell what is supposed to be serious and what isn’t. These films do better when they nod at their own absurd nature and revel in the chaos. Louis Leterrier straddles a line between serious and silly that works occasionally, but then neuters other sequences. There’s a dramatic sequence in which a character sacrifices themselves that lacks any pathos due to the inherent hilarity of the over-the-top action and the lack of any investment in the character.
Overstuffed but only a half-portion, with a second “final” film to come, there are so many characters and sub-beats that one can never really connect to anything happening. The strongest scenes are ones where Diesel is allowed to show that he in fact has some acting skill, but his moments are far too spread out.
Further, the film ends on such a cliffhanger that there is no resolution of anything going on. There is nothing wrong with cliffhangers. Avengers: Infinity War ends on a dark and dramatic point, but it still had a sense of resolution. X‘s last scene feels like a 50s serial, precariously literally close to where the term cliffhanger comes from. The result is unsatisfying and a movie that doesn’t feel like a complete story in the slightest.
There are some thrills in the film, and the fact that they filmed on location in places like Rome, Turin, and more adds a tangibility to aspects of the movie. But Fast X is ultimately too lacking in many areas to be anything more than an occasional cheap thrill. Jason Momoa goes full camp with his role, but he feels at odds with a film that attempts many serious beats. It’s an overall disjointed movie and passably enjoyable.