Keith’s Movie Korner: ‘Fast X’ sputters and stalls

By Keith Walther | Rose Law Group Reporter

The “Fast and Furious” franchise just put out their tenth film in the series, and it’s easily the worst since that third installment, “Tokyo Drift.” “Fast X” is designed to be the first film of a three-part finale to the franchise, but fans won’t be too thrilled at that prospect after watching this one. The main culprit of ambivalence is the story, which can best be described as a retread of prior films in the series.

Twelve years after the events of “Fast Five,” Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family have seen their fair share of adventure and mayhem since, but the past has a way of returning to haunt. Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) is the surviving son of the evil drug kingpin who was killed in “Fast Five,” and he’s naturally looking for retribution. Dante finds the best way to exact revenge is by targeting Dom’s extended family, which is the basis for almost all previous “Fast” movies.

Crafting overly elaborate schemes to expose Dom’s weakness, Dante seeks to separate and scatter Dom’s crew across the world. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), and Han (Sung Kang) are placed in mortal danger and must form unlikely alliances with former enemies like Shaw (Jason Statham), Cipher (Charlize Theron), and Jakob (John Cena) to survive Dante’s inferno of vengeance. The globetrotting crew battle their way through exotic locales again like Brazil, Portugal, Rome, London, and even Antarctica to overcome the most lethal villain they’ve ever faced.

This tediously tiring story is directed by Louis Leterrier, who hasn’t directed any of the previous films. In fact, his track record is less than stellar, having previously directed subpar projects like “The Transporter” movies and “Clash of the Titans.” While the “Fast” films have never boasted of the screenplays being the strength of the productions, there was usually a concerted effort to add complexities, subplots, and character development into the stories. For “Fast X,” Leterrier had a singular motivation to weave a chaotic path of death and destruction.

Like a trigger-happy child, Leterrier seemed to blow up a car for every line of dialogue throughout the film. Sounds fun, but without an adequate storyline, the action sequences tend to fall flat, diminishing the entertainment. There were also too many senseless scenes of violence that felt contrived, like the fight scene between the Michelle Rodriguez and Charlize Theron characters. There was no point to that scene other than to try scoring cool points by having the two actresses duke it out with each other.

As in previous installments, audiences will be treated to physics defying stunts that suspend reality, gadgetry from the “Mission: Impossible” discard pile, and prior heinous villains turned good guys. The opening scene was the best moment of the entire film, which was a repurposed scene from “Fast Five.” One of the other best moments occurs during the ending credits as it does provide some hope for the next film. Everything in between will leave the audience saying “meh.”

The brightest part of “Fast X” is Jason Momoa, who provides a highly entertaining performance as the psychotically funny antagonist. His sadistic wit is reminiscent of the villainous role of Joker from DC comics, providing dark humor in otherwise tense moments. The macabre scene of Jason painting the toenails of some dead soldiers while conversing with them in a friendly conversational tone elicits wonderfully awkward laughter from the audience. Momoa’s performance easily outshines the rest of the cast and gives the audience some hope for the next film.

As for the rest of the enormous cast, it’s a case of too many hands in the cookie jar. Everyone is vying for screentime and dialogue, leaving no time to develop any of the characters. Adding newcomers to the series, like Brie Larson (“Captain Marvel”) and Alan Ritchson (“Reacher”) only exacerbates the problem. Too much time was allocated to the wrong characters, like the Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson characters, whose schtick has gotten stale and cringey.

“Fast X” is simply an orgy of explosions, hand-to-hand combat, and cheesy one-liners. The violent action sequences are thrilling at times, but the lack of plot and character substance subdues the excitement. If it wasn’t for Jason Momoa, “Fast X” would be nothing more than roadkill.

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May 2023