By Josh Reilly B. & George Bate
The modern world of Hollywood can perhaps best be described as a haven for long-running, beloved franchises that are designed to excite audiences about the next project just as much as they are to entertain with the current offering. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either; plenty of hit franchises have excelled in making both hugely enjoyable blockbuster films as well as smaller, more intimate, and thematically rich outings as well.
Most of these franchises are either filled with masked superheroes or set in space, but one that stands out as unique from the rest is Fast and Furious, which began all the way back in 2001 as a somewhat modest car racing series but has now gone on to become an all out action-adventure epic (that still somehow manages to incorporate vehicles into most of its massive set-pieces).
The franchise continues this weekend with the release of Fast X, the first of a two (or perhaps three, if Vin Diesel’s comments on the red carpet are to be believed) part finale that will conclude the journeys of Dom Toretto and co. In this latest installment, Jason Momoa plays the son of a gang leader that Dom and his crew were responsible for killing in Fast Five, a relatively bizarre callback to a previous story but somehow very fitting within the overall narrative of the franchise. From there, the infamous family, which just continues to grow and grow as time goes on, is put at risk by Momoa’s villain and his quest for revenge. This leads to more car chases, more explosions, more battles, and a bigger and broader scale than the filmmakers have ever attempted before.
In some ways, the scale of it works in that it appeals to audiences who enjoy these massive action movies. The action is not as impressive as some other rival ongoing series, such as Keanu Reeves’ John Wick franchise, but director Louis Leterrier does well enough to keep viewers entertained and somewhat gripped by the proceedings. Like with all of the Fast and Furious films, however, there is an aura of ridiculousness throughout. The best movies in the franchise (Fast X is certainly not one of them) have walked the tightrope and ultimately found a balance between absurdity and seriousness, and while the latest film goes too far in some directions, it will still almost certainly be appreciated by the hardcore fans.
The hardcore fans might actually be the only ones who can genuinely appreciate Fast X anyway, such is the nature of the increasingly convoluted narrative. There are a ridiculous amount of characters, including ones that are new and ones that have conveniently come back from the dead (which seems to happen every movie now, including in one of the post credits scenes for this film). Everything is becoming increasingly hard to follow, especially for those who might not be as well-versed in the lore, a fact that brings down the rest of the proceedings in the film.
Most of the themes and stories are so blatantly surface level, such as that of revenge, that Fast X feels too familiar of an outing as well. Jason Statham’s villain, who is now no longer really a villain (another common occurrence in the series), has essentially the same exact motivations as Jason Momoa’s Dante. A family member is killed and they then set off on a quest to seek justice for their loved one, which sounds like an interesting enough premise but is once again bogged down by the fact that this franchise has already done this story before.
It is, however, worth noting that Jason Momoa’s performance in this film is enough to make the film entertaining. Momoa is often a hero, just as he is in the DC franchise as Aquaman, but he shows his range and takes an interesting change of pace in this film. While Vin Diesel and other long-serving actors in the franchise are continuing to move in the direction of taking everything too seriously, thus making the stories lack all self-awareness and sucking the fun out of the proceedings, Momoa finds a better balance that is more of the tone that they should be seeking going forward.
Hardcore fans of the franchise will enjoy Fast X, the latest installment in Vin Diesel’s long-running car-centric series. Jason Momoa steals the show as the revenge-seeking villain, and the franchise will be all the better for it if he can continue to come back for the foreseeable future. Despite that, the story is far too convoluted, pulling elements from movies that came and went well over a decade ago, and the lack of self-awareness is not only incredibly concerning but brings down the quality of the film as well.
Check out The HoloFiles‘ breakdown of the most ridiculous (and hilarious) sequences in the Fast & Furious franchise below: