It’s hard to believe that The Fast and the Furious franchise kicked-off 22 years ago with a simple little movie about the Los Angeles street-racing scene. It made stars out of Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker. From there the street racing moved to Miami and then Tokyo. However, something shifted after that. We got a mediocre fourth film that reunited the original cast, but Fast Five took things in a whole new and exciting direction. Fast & Furious was no longer about racing. Justin Lin brought the series into a big budget action spectacle. Things continued to shine with the sixth and seventh films, which was also where we said goodbye to Paul Walker. Unfortunately, the next two installments and the Hobbs & Shaw spin-off did very little to keep the series feeling fresh. Here we are now with Fast X, the tenth film and the one that kicks off the three-film finale. While the latest installment is basically 141 minutes of pure dumbness, it takes a few steps into course-correcting the wayward series.
The first thing is tying the events of the series best, Fast Five to this one. However, the big difference between the latest film and all of the ones that came prior, is that for the first time, we get a fun villain. Jason Momoa plays Dante, the son of Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). When Dominic killed the elder Reyes at the end of the fifth film, he had no idea that his somewhat psychopathic son would eventually come for revenge. Few years have passed since the events of the last film. Dominic Toretto is living in his family home with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and their son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry). Things are going along nicely. Even Abuelita (Rita Moreno) swings by to visit with her family. Things don’t stay nice for long. When Toretto’s team go to Rome for a mission, they soon discover it was a setup. Dante was there waiting, and Dom’s family was the bait he needed. It turns out that Dante went after Dom’s other nemesis, Cipher (Charlize Theron) to grab the God’s Eye, which is a piece of tech that can track anyone in the world, including Dom’s son. Since family is the most important thing to him, you know what that means.
Much like the last few films, there is a ton of globetrotting going on and way too many characters. Jason Statham’s Shaw and his mother Queenie (Helen Mirren) are only in the film for a matter of minutes. However, it is made clear that they will have larger roles in the upcoming films. Like usual, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) is given the funniest lines. John Cena’s Jakob is much more entertaining as the good uncle here than he was as the villain in the last film. While Brie Larson can handle the action for sure, I would like to see her character given a little more of a punch up. Fast X is heavy on the action, as one would expect. Some of the CGI explosions are distractingly bad, including the big one in Rome and the final act drive down an exploding dam. I still can’t help but laugh at how Dom never has a single scratch. No human could take the kind of physical punishment he takes. Louis Leterrier (The Transporter) took over directing duties when Lin suddenly left production. He is a proven capable action director and definitely a good fit for the franchise. Still, it is Momoa who truly saves the day here. He adds such an abundance of life and steals every scene he is in.
The producers of the series finally figured out that for such a ridiculous series of films, you need an equally ridiculous heavy to deliver a true joygasm. Thankfully, Dante is not a one and done character. For the first time in years, I actually want to see what happens next. As expected, the 4K release of Fast X looks absolutely splendid. This is a big expensive franchise that takes us all around the world and gives us some great locations. Thanks to Dolby Vision and HDR, the vast number of colors and textures will make your eyes pop. A perfect example is when Dom shows up at a race in Brazil, where he meets Dante for the first time. All the pretty cars, lights and people take full advantage of what Dolby Vision has to offer. Of course, for audio, the Dolby Atmos track is no slouch either. If there is one thing this franchise takes seriously, is its’ sound design (probably one of the only things it takes seriously). A lot of guns, engines and explosions. Plus, of course the always consistent soundtrack. Vin Diesel’s voice alone demands Atmos. While this series has its’ ups and downs, there is no denying the presentation rocks, even if the film doesn’t. Three out of five stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️