REVIEW: ‘Fast X’ Rediscovers The Balance Between Fantastical And Family

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Fast X

After 22 years of fast cars, fantastic stunts, and family, Fast X revs up the action again, delivering an exhilarating ride for fans and newcomers alike. The film, directed by Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans, Now You See Me), reunites Dom Toretto and his crew in Los Angeles. Just when everything seems to be looking up for the family, the crew must face their most formidable adversary yet, Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), the vengeful son of events past. While Fast X excels in paying homage to the series’ best moments and stunts, it also showcases strong performances from series newcomers Jason Momoa and Leo Abelo Perry, who plays Brian Toretto.

Fast X wastes no time in setting up the plot for the film, and Dante’s driving factor is to destroy the life that Dom has built for himself after the events of Fast Five. Coupled with a flashback to the day of the vault heist in Rio and homage to the best moments and stunts of the beloved franchise through pictures in Dom’s garage, the opening minutes serve as a fast recap of the events that have brought Dom and the family to this point. With the stage set, action ensues before the end of the first act putting the family in the crosshairs of a villain who is the sheer antithesis of our heroes.

Dom spends much of the movie separated from his family, dealing with emotional and dangerous action sequences as Dante intended. As to not hammer viewers with just action and Dom stonefaced, Fast X introduces a refreshing shift in tone by allowing those emotional scenes to breathe and finding moments of levity through the comedic members of the family. This approach adds depth and complexity to the narrative, providing a breather from the high-octane action and allowing audiences to connect with other members of the family on a more personal level. This shift in tone showcases the franchise’s ability to blend action and humor seamlessly.

It also allows all the characters a chance to shine in their sequences, which were sorely lacking in F9 that mostly relegated characters like Tej, Roman, and Ramsey to meta-commentary on the series. Even Jakob has his fair share of scenes that lean into John Cena’s charisma, allowing him to challenge the musclebound gearhead motif that is so prominent in the franchise. The interplay between emotional weight and lighthearted humor enhances the viewing experience, preventing the film from becoming a spectacle.

While Fast X takes a step back from the grander spectacle, like sending a Pontiac Fiero to space, it doesn’t mean that Fast X has forgotten what has made the franchise so popular. There is still more CGI in the film than you can shake a wrench at, but there is a clear intention by director Leterrier to have Fast X return to more practical effects. By relying less on CGI-driven spectacles and embracing practical stunts, the film recaptures the gritty authenticity that captivated the earlier installments. Even stunts that see a bomb rolling through the streets of Rome or Dom using helicopters attached to his car as weapons incorporate enough practical effects that result in exhilarating sequences that feel more grounded than past films. This emphasis on practicality serves as a reminder of the franchise’s roots and commitment to thrilling audiences without sacrificing all sense of believability.

Fast X — But Why Tho

The standout for Fast X is far and away Jason Momoa’s performance as Dante Reyes. Momoa brings a formidable presence to the screen, infusing his character with intensity, charisma, and a magnetic charm. While his portrayal may garner its fair share of laughs, it doesn’t detract from how downright scary Dante is. In the past, many villains in the Fast & Furious franchise typically relied on amassing more wealth or taking over the world. Dante goes past those types of trivial desires and focuses on Dom and the ones he cares about.

He had no desire for money, his father. No family like the Shaws. No attempt to bring a new world order like Cipher. Just intense hatred for Dom. He pulls off a Joker-Scar-Jareth-type villain performance that makes what Cipher did look like child’s play. His ability to embody the character’s ruthless determination and unwavering focus on revenge elevates the film’s intensity, even while joking around with Dom. Momoa’s presence on screen steals the show and provides the perfect foil to Dom Toretto, creating an electrifying dynamic between the two characters.

With all the things I love about Fast X, it has flaws. One notable misstep is the inclusion of scenes involving Momma Toretto, which ultimately lack payoff. Crammed into the film’s opening minutes, these moments feel disconnected from the main narrative and seem to exist solely for promotional purposes. While the intention may have been to add depth and emotional weight, the execution falls short, leaving viewers wondering about their significance. Trimming these scenes would have allowed for a tighter narrative focus and more time to integrate new characters into the family more substantially.

Need a recap of every Fast movie before Fast x? Read ours here.

The Fast & Furious franchise has always been about the ensemble. However, Fast X may show that the franchise is at critical mass with all the film’s characters. While characters like Tej, Roman, Han, Ramesy, Letty, and Cipher have their moments to shine in their subplots, characters like Ms. Nobody, played by Brie Larson, feel shoehorned. Frequently, her character just shows up conveniently but doesn’t do much other than show the flaws in the Agency.

Her role could have been filled by Luke Hobbs or Deckard Shaw, who don’t have enough time. Additionally, Fast X attempts to tug on one too many heartstrings by adding more twists that connect new characters to the old, including a particular Brazilian cop. Like with Momma Toretto, eliminating scenes with Ms. Nobody and a long-lost family member could have given more time to characters we already know and love.

A great example of including new characters that don’t take focus away from the older faces can easily be seen with Jakob and little Brian Toretto. The duo spends a significant portion of the film together, and it is some of the film’s best moments. Despite his age, Brian is more than capable of holding his own after being surrounded by some of the franchise’s smartest and most daring characters.

His character almost fits perfectly with characters found in the animated spin-off Fast & Furious Spy Racers and could possibly hint at what’s to come once Vin Diseal looks to pass keys. Additionally, through getting to know Brian, Jakob’s character growth explored in F9 is continued. There is more than meets the eye, and John Cena delivers all of the charm, comedy, and action you would expect from the former WWE Superstar.

Fast X

Lastly, the series still does not know what to do with the O’Conners. Throughout the series, Dom’s relationship with Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) has been a cornerstone of the Fast and Furious universe. While the passing of Paul Walker was a significant loss, the character has continued to be referenced, and their presence has been felt. While his presence in the film adds a sentimental touch through references and flashbacks, it feels somewhat repetitive, given his prominent roles in previous installments.

Mia (Jordana Brewster), Dom’s sister and Brian’s wife shows up again to help save the day while Brian is nowhere to be seen. Given the events of the film, there is still no logical reason, as far as the film is concerned, that Brian would not be a part of this plot when even Queenie (Helen Mirren) is in danger of Dante’s wrath. As much as Paul Walker’s presence is missed from these films, it may be time to write off the character entirely and give him the final resolution as a fitting tribute to his contributions to the franchise.

In all, director Louis Leterrier steers the franchise back to its roots as it rediscovers the balance between fantastical and family. Despite a few missed opportunities, Fast X still manages to deliver an entertaining and nostalgic experience for fans of the franchise. It pays tribute to the best moments and stunts, showcases Jason Momoa’s stellar performance as a unique villain, strikes a balance between emotional depth and comedic relief, and, most importantly, focuses on family. By the time the credits roll, the misdirection and cliffhanger in the third act will leave fans wanting more of the Fast Saga, as it looks like this ride is nowhere close to being over yet. Be sure to stick around for the mid-credit scene.

Fast X hits theaters on May 19, 2023.

Fast X
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10


In all, director Louis Leterrier steers the franchise back to its roots as it rediscovers the balance between fantastical and family. Despite a few missed opportunities, Fast X still manages to deliver an entertaining and nostalgic experience for fans of the franchise.

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