The Fast and the Furious. Twenty-two years. Ten films. One spin-off. One helluva ride. The family is love. The family is life. The family is forever. My Family, mi familia!
I mean, come on. Of course this humble schmoe was going to talk about the global institution that redefined vehicular warfare, physics obliteration, and familial rhetoric. Even now, it remains equal parts an enigma as well as an escapist fantasy. And we’re finally nearing the proverbial end of the road for this multi-decade saga. Sort of.
What was once a Point Break (1991) rip-off with cars has gear-shifted from street-racing actioner to high-octane heist caper to biblical revenge crusade to superlative superhero fare to science fiction opus and right back around again. It’s literally gone from one side of the action spectrum to the other in riotous fashion, each level inhabiting more story, elements, plotlines, characters, and feats, adding to its growing arsenal.
The series managed to carry on after the unfortunate passing of Paul Walker, who was the literal foundation of the franchise since the very beginning. They went to freaking outer space in Fast 9 (2021), dipped their toes into crossover territory by having two goddamn Decepticons from Transformers in their spin-off, Hobbs and Shaw (2019). And the coup de grace, the saga has even become narratively self-aware, questioning its own ridiculous feats in a somewhat hilarious degree. (“If it can be done in a car, they did it. If it defied the laws of god and gravity, they did it twice.“)
Let’s be honest, if you buy a ticket to most of these films and gullibly expect a coherent storyline, realistic action, and a logical tone, you unfortunately deserve to be disappointed. At this point, everyone understands exactly what this franchise entails. Without question. And those who sanctimoniously act like it should be anything other than the ginormous, loud, and massive rollercoaster that it is sounds just as comedic as Vinny Unleaded spouting out family for the millionth time. For many of us, we’ve ceremoniously embraced the unyielding craziness this series has to offer and expect it to wow us with its rampant absurdity.
You know what this reminds me of? Endearing fables of bygone eras. Tales of extraordinary situations done by regular beings in order to provide some sort of an emotional or existential lesson. Of course these would be modernized fairy tales but it can still apply. Or maybe live-action anime, in all it’s zany sleekness and cultural reverence. (Though in anime the most powerful force in the cosmos is friendship instead of family) Or maybe…just maybe this is Americanized Bollywood in all its kinetic intensity but with less pinings of love and no dance numbers. Though, I suppose you could count the party scenes with butt-shaking as the musical numbers. But I digress.
All in all, not bad for a franchise that possessed zero source material whatsoever to draw from. Which at this point is almost a miracle among miracles. Other franchises like Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, James Bond, and Mission Impossible always had guidelines or a blueprint to follow. Yet, spanning twenty years and now ELEVEN films, this stratospheric saga has always been its own standalone creation. Which is why, for the most part, it can do whatever the hell it wants. And has. And will. Which means it actually has more in common with other standalone franchises like Star Wars, Avatar, The Matrix, John Wick, and Indiana Jones when it comes to creativity, commercial success, and even societal influence.
For this schmoe, I simply want it all – the bombastic action, nuclear decimation, incredible fight scenes, one-liners on top of one-liners, otherwordly technology, and TONS of stylish cars. I want physics to consume every alcoholic concoction, partake in heavy drug use and chase the dragon. I want the laws of nature to destroy itself and see what happens in the midst of it….just for our entertainment and amusement. Which is brings us to Fast X (2023), giving us exactly what this saga consistently gives and even reminding us of the indomitable surprises it still has in store.
As the story goes, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family are mercilessly targeted by Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), a force of nature hell bent on vengeance for the fam killing his father, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) and stealing his fortune during the events of Fast Five (2011). As the Fam go on the offensive, they soon realize that Dante’s plans for revenge extends to everything and everyone whose ever been a part of the clan or even fought against them, including cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), Jakob Toretto (John Cena), and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Absolutely NO ONE is safe from Dante’s wrath, and a massive collision course ensues.
Strangely enough, this story is more self-contained than previous furious affairs. The family isn’t saving the world this time around, just trying to save each other and everyone whose closest to them. And because of that, the stakes are personal and higher than ever before. The globe-trotting, electrifying lunacy remains abundantly intact, thanks to director Louis Leterrier keeping things more energetically focused on the task at hand, which was greatly appreciated.
Speaking of lunacy, let’s talk about Jason Momoa. Often times in cinema a performance will come along that’s so charismatic or imposing it literally shines above the rest of the players and even takes scenes away from them. Don’t get me wrong, the entire cast ranges from serviceable to solid, but with Momoa, he isn’t just a scene-stealer, he’s a freaking movie-stealer, as his portrayal of Dante Reyes is a beacon that illuminated and ignited this entire film more than the explosions. Deranged, unhinged, theatrical, and downright dastardly, Reyes is the ultimate threat and Mamoa plays him with an unyielding confidence and exuberance that’s completely unmatched. He’s having the absolute time of his life, which makes me wonder why other features have never allowed Momoa to be his unapologetic self because it works. He matches this franchise’s over-the-top, boisterous persona perfectly. Couldn’t get enough of it. And you’ll feel the same way. Guaranteed. He’s that damn good.
Bottom line, the beginning of the end of this franchise is off to a stellar start. This installment cranks everything up to the highest gear, paving a way to the finish line in a stupendously crazy way. Those who love this series will love this one, and those who can’t stand it will have the same complaints. Either way, those of us who are apart of this family will be there until the end of the line.
Ride. Or. Die.
Review written by Marcus Wilturner