Fast X

Fast X Is Exactly What You’d Expect From a Fast and Furious Movie

Dept. of Fatigued Franchises


The greatest hits album, a staple in the collection of every casual listener and dabbler, has always been an incredibly lucrative proposition. (For decades, Eagles: Their Greatest Hits ranked alongside Thriller as the best-selling album of all time.) It is the epitome of capitalism. Give people what they like, and only what they like, and you don’t risk alienating anyone. But by picking apart the LP and ignoring its role as an inviolable and complete work of art, the greatest hits album distills the oeuvre of an artist or a band into a series of non-contextualized “hits,” completely disregarding the intangible value that fillers, instrumental interludes, spoken-word skits, and half-baked song experiments bring. The 43 second xylophone intro that bleep-bloops right into “Hurts Like Heaven” on Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto is essential. As is Sterling Magee and Adam Gussow’s 38 second “Freedom for My People” on U2’s Rattle and Hum. They are digressions that add colour. They give the listener space to breathe. They are the silly little things that you remember.

Fast X, the first in what is now a trilogy of movies designed to wrap up the franchise, feels like a greatest hits album. It is made up of all the “best bits” from the previous movies, strung together in frenetic fashion, in order to give you all the things you liked before, only now in one place.

Director Louis Leterrier leaves nothing out. But cramming the movie with too many characters and just as many action sequences, by keeping everything at 11 all the time, doesn’t give the audience any space to take in, process, or even properly appreciate what’s happening on screen. Also like a greatest hits collection, the movie doesn’t really give you anything new to sink your teeth into.

Now none of this means that Fast X is a bad movie. It serves to scratch an itch. It’s just nothing you haven’t already seen before.

Dante’s Inferno

Fast X

As always, the plot of the movie is built around someone from Dom’s past who is hellbent on tearing apart his beloved “family.” To set this up, Fast X opens with a retcon of the infamous vault theft from Fast Five. Remember the time when our protagonists quite literally hooked a steel bank vault to their cars and destroyed half of Rio? This time, the scene has been rather deftly reedited to include the franchise’s newest villain, Jason Momoa’s Dante Reyes, who was apparently there all along. After witnessing the death of his father, he has spent the last 10 years in a right old stew, and is now finally ready to enact his revenge masterplan. Chaos ensues as Dom scrambles to save his family and take down this sequel’s new big bad.

Now we can’t quite tell you what Dante’s masterplan is. All we know from the movie is that it involves a bunch of frame ups and the rampant destruction of major metropolitan areas. None of the specifics are explained, but we figure it must be working because Dante is constantly smirking about how everything is going exactly the way he wants it to.

What follows is exactly what you expect from a Fast movie. God knows if you’ve seen one of these, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Unlike Tom Cruise and every new Mission: Impossible movie, the escalation in these movies is less about the mechanics of crafting a clever stunt, and more about tripping into the ridiculous. The big difference with this one is that Leterrier has decided to ground (I use the word loosely) the action as much as possible and move it away from things like cars in space. Yes, it is still very CGI heavy, but it does feel a lot less Looney Tunes than before. If the previous installments took inspiration from Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner, then this one leans more towards Elmer Fudd versus Daffy Duck. It’s a tiny distinction, but a noticeable one.

The biggest mistake here, however, was reminding the audience of that incredible vault chase scene from Fast Five. It was iconic, it was a franchise high, and sadly, nothing in this movie comes close.

Watching the World Burn

Fast X

If there is one shining light in Fast X, it is Jason Momoa. While the rest of the original cast are sleepwalking through this movie, Momoa seems to be having the time of his life as Dante Reyes. (“I’m Dante, enchanté!”) He is all flash and style. (His outfits are excellent.) He is as sexy as he is unhinged. His motivations are rooted in chaos. He is Heath Ledger’s Joker without all of the self loathing. A great bad guy is something the series has sorely lacked – everyone always ends up becoming “family” at some point or other – and Dante Reyes is, hands down, the franchise’s best villain yet.

In fact, all of the newcomers really seem happy to be there. They may not have much screen time, but both Brie Larson and Alan Ritchson are both hamming it up in all the right ways. So much so that the movie feels somewhat saggy whenever they’re not on screen. (John Cena is pretty great too. But the version of his character in this movie bears very little resemblance to the villain we met in F9.)

Franchise Fatigue?

Fast X

Over the years, the Fast franchise has transformed itself into a weird hodgepodge of ideas. Unlike Disney, Sony, or Warner Bros., Universal doesn’t have their own stable of IPs to mine for content, and so these movies have borrowed bits and pieces from everything else that’s out there. It’s The Italian Job, meets James Bond, with some superhero sensibilities thrown in for good measure.

The first three Fast movies were special by virtue of how different they all were. They weren’t yet a bankable franchise which meant there was room for experimentation. Standalone sequels, with different directors, even different actors, meant that we got something new every time. It was risky, but it was also exciting.

Hollywood studios are always looking for a box office guarantee. For that product they are certain will round out their balance sheet no matter how bad a particular year might be. These Fast movies are as close to a “sure thing” that there is right now, and we get why they’re afraid to rock that boat. But more of the same is precisely what leads to fatigue. Fast X is not a bad movie. But by being so averse to trying new things, it unfortunately comes off as being a little lethargic.

Fast X is now showing in Malaysian cinemas.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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