Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Fast Saga has defied all odds regarding its success over the past twenty years or so. A veritable who's who of Hollywood has put one or more of these films down as part of their filmography, as well as several action directors. The latest is Louis Leterrier who's been part of the MCU and the Now You See Me and Transporter franchises. He was the perfect candidate to revive this struggling billion-dollar franchise. Fast X isn't the last in the franchise, but it may, in fact, be the best, and a lot of that credit goes to Leterrier.
At this point, it's obligatory to mention that family has always played a part in the Fast Saga. I think everyone knows that by now. It's how much the star, writers, and directors infuse that mantra into each movie over and over again that is pretty amazing. In the past, it has gotten annoying and stale, but not this time around. The family aspects of the movie work so well throughout this two-hour twenty-one-minute action extravaganza. I cared so much about this family, I couldn't believe it. I was so invested in their story.
Another thing this series of films does that has gotten old at times — except when a character like Agent Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) was introduced in Fast Five — is all the cameos and guest stars. Some actors would pop up for a one-off, or they'd get brought back time and again. Take for instance Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Cipher (Charlize Theron), or Helen Mirren as Statham's and Luke Evans’s characters’ mother. This film might have the best villain yet, in Dante (Jason Momoa). Like all the villains in the other entries, he has an ax to grind with the Torreto clan.
Jason Momoa is known as a rather serious actor. His characters in Game of Thrones, Dune, and Aquaman in the DCEU would prove that. Momoa takes a different approach to his character in this movie. He decided to go in a lighter, more comedic direction. It paid off in big ways for him and the film. I laughed constantly at his witty repartee. He just cracked me up from the first time I saw him on screen. He might have been akin to the Joker from the various Batman films, if I had to make a comparison. Whatever he was going for, he knocked it out of the park.
(clockwise, from left) Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Han (Sung Kang), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Dom (Vin Diesel), Little Brian (Leo Abelo Perry), Abuelita (Rita Moreno), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, back to camera) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson, back to camera) in Fast X, directed by Louis Leterrier. Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures.
Gravity hasn't always been a friend of the Fast Saga — I think people would agree on that point. Cars flying out building windows into other buildings isn't mathematically logical, but we go with it because it's the Fast and the Furious. It's become the norm for this series of films to one-up itself from film to film. Yes, dragging a heavy safe around Rio De Janeiro and using it as a battering ram was one thing, but having a giant marble-shaped bomb rolling around Rome like a pinball, bashing into whatever is in its way, is completely insane in a great way. I felt like I was literally watching a giant pinball machine. It was insane, to say the least. That's just one of many incredible jaw-dropping action sequences in Fast X.
The last two Fast films were what I'd call a letdown. They lacked the enjoyment factor that the previous four films in the franchise had, which had saved this dying series. This movie had so much enjoyment factor, it was on steroids. Just when something crazy would happen, I'd say to myself “there is no way they're going to do that,” and they would do just that. I was literally beside myself with jubilation from the very beginning to the end credits of this film. I just couldn't believe how much I was invested in the characters, cameos, action sequences, and everything in between. I can't believe I'm writing this, but this is the best Fast and the Furious film to date. It's definitely going to earn a billion dollars like a few of its predecessors, and maybe even more.
Vin Diesel has pretty much been the spearhead of this franchise since the beginning. Like the Jurassic Park franchise, Universal Pictures has held onto him and it as the golden goose they are — even when they laid a couple of bad eggs the last two times out. They doubled down on what has made these films great in the past, and got rid of the ridiculousness. People were making fun of how ridiculous this franchise has gotten. Should I mention they shot a Fiero into space with rockets attached to it? Probably nobody wants to be reminded of this. Family, guest actors, and amazing jaw-dropping action sequences are what the bedrock of this franchise is built on. Diesel, Leterrier, and Universal got back to basics, and it worked with flying colors. I'm astounded by how much this movie works in all aspects of filmmaking.
Fast X is the best in the franchise, and they now have a lot to live up to in “Fast XX,” if that's what the next one will indeed be called.
Fast X opens in theaters on May 19.