‘Fast X’: Bigger, faster, more outlandish, but not the end of the road

Now more than two decades old, the Fast & Furious franchise is racing for the finish line with all the outlandish action and rank sentimentality it can muster. “Fast X,” the first installment of what will reportedly be a three-part swan song, is literally the beginning of the end, which promises to be an “Avengers: Endgame”-style reunion of the series’s core characters, now including its most memorable villain, played with equal parts glower and gleeful camp by Jason Momoa. Viewers will remember that in 2021’s “F9,” the series literally went into space. Where to go from there? More outlandish stunts and set pieces, of course — in this case involving cars landing from an airplane onto a busy highway; a punishing girl fight executed between laser beams and shards of broken glass; high-tech wizardry; and, of course, several perilous car chases. But in “Fast X,” the stars are the most compelling special effects. Is anyone not in this movie? Fans will no doubt appreciate the cameos, callbacks and tantalizing clues of what’s to come in a movie that serves its fan base with extravagant, here-comes-another-one fealty. The gravitational center, as always, is Vin Diesel — a walking testosterone gelcap whose emotional spectrum ranges from determined scowl to papa-bear growl — as Dom Toretto, a former drag racer who now leads a ragtag group of miscreants and former criminals for a shadowy law enforcement entity called the Agency. Dom is at his Dommiest in “Fast X,” uttering terse one-liners like “I got this” and wincing after a hundred-foot drop as if he’d just clipped a curb before delivering one of several soliloquies about the importance of family. This is the “Fast” formula that, however creaky, has proved so irresistible since the first movie in 2001: visceral, progressively more preposterous action sequences — often involving promiscuous gunplay and bloody fights — punctuated by sermons on duty, honor and filial loyalty. In the grand tradition of American cinema, “Fast X” and its predecessors provide audiences what they crave most: a wish fulfillment fantasy of unbridled aggression that has the added advantage of being morally righteous. Boxes checked. Fire away. Here, the ones doing the shooting are a motley but sleekly attractive ensemble of usual suspects and returning faves: Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) return as Dom’s crew — sorry, family — along with his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and Dom’s now-8-year-old son, Little B (Leo Abelo Perry), named for Dom’s best friend Brian. That character, of course, was played by Paul Walker until the actor’s untimely death in 2013; he still makes an appearance in “Fast X,” by way of flashbacks to a heist he and Dom pulled in “Fast Five,” involving not just the theft of a bank vault but stealing the entire vault itself. In the course of that mission, they killed a crime kingpin named Reyes, whose son Dante (Momoa) has now surfaced to exact revenge. Mayhem, carnage, smash-ups and wanton destruction ensue — and that’s just in the first 10 minutes. As in previous iterations, “Fast X” takes its protagonists on a dizzying but somehow turgid tour of the globe, in this case laying waste to picturesque locales ranging from Rome (where a neutron bomb scuttles through the streets like a deranged megaton pinball) to Naples, Rio, London and Antarctica, all in service to a plot that resembles “Scooby-Doo” with fuel injection and more firepower. That might be the best way to appreciate “Fast X”: as an overstuffed live-action cartoon whose harebrained schemes and casual, stakes-free violence create the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of Froot Loops on a Saturday morning. At least that’s the spirit in which Momoa approaches this monumentally silly endeavor: His Dante is a funny, flouncing maniac, given to progressively weirder wardrobe choices and TikTok-ready hairstyles. In one memorably icky scene, he’s having a spa day kitted out in a fluffy bathrobe and totes adorbs pigtails, ignoring the fact that his companions are in no position to enjoy their mani-pedis. As the capers get more bananas (feeling more like filler every time), so does Momoa’s Big Psycho energy. Amid all the screeching brakes, roaring engines and guns a-blazing in “Fast X,” his Dante provides both a jolt of playful humor and an unsubtle wink at the homoerotic frisson that has always animated the most stridently macho action movies. Next to Momoa, the novelty of “Fast X” lies mostly in its cameos, which only a spoilsport would describe in more detail; suffice it to say that most work, and the most newsworthy come in the film’s final scenes, including the closing credits. Not surprisingly, “Fast X” brings new meaning to the term “cliffhanger.” There’s definitely more to come. There always is. PG-13. At area theaters. Contains intense sequences of violence and action, coarse language and some suggestive material. 141 minutes.

‘Fast X’: Bigger, faster, more outlandish, but not the end of the road

Via: Washington Post