Friday, May 19, 2023

Review: "FAST X" is Too Fast, Too Furious For One Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 22 of 2023 (No. 1911) by Leroy Douresseaux

Fast X (2023)
Running time: 141 minutes (2 hours, 21 minutes)
MPA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material
DIRECTOR: Louis Leterrier
WRITERS: Justin Lin and Dan Mazeau; from a story by Justin Lin & Dan Mazeau and Zach Dean (based on the characters created by Gary Scott Thompson)
PRODUCERS: Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, Justin Lin, Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, and Samantha Vincent
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen F. Windon (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Dylan Highsmith and Kelly Matsumoto
COMPOSER: Brian Tyler


Starring:  Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Leo Abelo Perry, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Charlize Theron, Jon Cena, Brie Larson, Scot Eastwood, Alan Ritchson, Daniela Melchior, Pete Davidson, Joaquim de Almeida, Rita Moreno, Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Helen Mirren

Fast X is a 2023 action movie that is directed by Louis Leterrier and is produced by Universal Pictures.  It is the tenth installment in the Fast & Furious movie franchise (now also called the “Fast Saga”).  A direct sequel to 2021's F9, Fast X finds Dom Toretto and his family targeted by the vengeful son of a drug kingpin they defeated over a decade ago.

Fast X begins in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro and recounts events, some of which were depicted in Fast Five (2011).  That time, professional criminals, Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O'Connor, led their crew/family in a heist against drug lord, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida).  It is revealed that Reyes' son, Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), failed in his bid to stop the heist.

In present day Los Angeles, Dom is living a quiet life with his wife, Letitia “Letty” Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), and his son, Brian “Little B” Marcos (Leo Abelo Perry).  Dom holds a family reunion that gathers the current incarnation of his crew-family:  Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Han Lue (Sung Kang), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), as well as Dom's grandmother, Abuelita Torreto (Rita Moreno).

Roman, Tej, Han, and Ramsey are about to embark on a mission in Rome, Italy – with Roman leading – for Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), the current head of “the Agency.”  However, what Dom and his family will discover is an elaborate trap laid for them by Dante Reyes, returned after over a decade and looking to avenge himself and his late father, Hernan.  Dante promise to kill Dom, but not before he makes him suffer by targeting his family and everyone connected to them or who helped them.  Now, a ragtag friends, enemies, and frenemies must gather together to stop Dante, who is always one step ahead of Dom and his family.  And Dante is enjoying every minute of the chaos and violence he causes.

When the first film, The Fast and the Furious, arrived in movie theaters in June of 2001, I ignored it, although I recognized the film's two stars, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker (1973-2013).  However, a few years later, I wanted to see 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) because it was directed by the late John Singleton (1968-2019) and because I was a fan of actor Tyrese and rapper/actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges.  Three years later, I was in a local theater to see The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), but I called it quits after that, refusing to see Fast & Furious (2009).  I eventually did see it because I wanted to see the fifth film in the series.

That would be 2011's Fast Five.  I found it hugely entertaining, and it was the film that made me a consistent fan of the “Fast & Furious” film series.  I think that Fast Five was the first film in the series in which the action was more fantasy or fantastic than realistic.  Beginning with Dom and company's adventures in Rio, the series became some hybrid of science fiction-action, quasi-superhero fantasy, and James Bond-type super spy adventure.  After Fast Five, the series was never the same.

I won't say that Fast X epitomizes that any more than the previous four films:  Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Furious 7 (2015), The Fate of the Furious (2017), and F9 (2021).  There may be more crashes and collisions of automobiles, military vehicles, aircraft, etc, but it is all familiar, solidly entertaining, but familiar.  Fast X does seem to have the highest body count of any of the films, which I did find off-putting.  The characters shoot to kill and injury as if they are players in a video game and not characters in a narrative film.

Jason Momoa and Charlize Theron really give stand out performances in the film.  Momoa's Dante Reyes seems to be the first series villain that can really destroy Dominic Toretto, and Theron's Cipher is simply, majorly cool.

Fast X is also surprisingly funny, with more wit and humor than I think the series has delivered since 2 Fast 2 Furious.  The action is non-stop, but it is also apparently too big for a single film, as you will discover when you watch it, dear readers.  Fast X isn't a great work of cinema, but it is a superb entry in this crazy series.

[Fast X has one mid-credit scene.]

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Friday, May 19, 2023

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