Fast X

Hard to believe, but I’ve been watching these FAST & FURIOUS movies for more than 20 years now. The first two on video, the rest highly anticipated theatrical events. At first they were these goofy lowbrow trendsploitation movies I got a kick out of, but I had to defend their right to exist from the Ain’t It Cool talkbackers. With FAST FIVE they became a hugely popular action saga that even mainstream critics respected for a couple years. The series definitely peaked during that period, and I don’t expect them to ever get that perfect balance back, but they still have their own delightful brand of preposterous action excess mixed with macho grease monkey soap opera that brings me great joy, and there’s no other movie series past or present that offers anything quite like it. So they’re back to being this dumb thing I enjoy while my Twitter feed is full of posts much like the talkbacks from back in the aughts. Why do they still make these, who are these for, Vin Diesel has an ego. Same old shit as time marches on a quarter mile at a time.

FAST X (which we all seem to have agreed to pronounce the same way we pronounce JASON X) doesn’t have as much to live up to as F9 did two years ago. It’s not my return to theaters after Covid-19 vaccination, and it’s not the series’ best director Justin Lin finally returning to the fold. In fact, it’s his departure – somehow Diesel (allegedly) managed to be such a pain in the ass that Lin quit as director. They’d managed four full movies together, but only a week filming this one.

So Louis Leterrier (THE INCREDIBLE HULK) took over with three days notice. Sadly that breaks the series’ unprecedented streak of directors of color; since Rob Cohen’s original it’s been seven sequels, four directors (John Singleton, Justin Lin, James Wan, F. Gary Gray), no white guys. But I gotta admit Leterrier was a good choice considering the circumstances. He’s made some pretty enjoyable movies – sorry world, I liked his CLASH OF THE TITANS remake – and part of his secret is knowing how to delegate to talented action people (Corey Yuen on TRANSPORTER and TRANSPORTER 2, Yuen Woo-ping on UNLEASHED). Also, he seems to have been available and able to be talked into it. That’s not nothing.

The script is credited to Dan Mazeau (WRATH OF THE TITANS) & Lin. It’s weird but true that Lin was collaborating with a guy whose only previous credit is the sequel to a movie by the guy who would later take over as director. Leterrier has said he rewrote the entire script on the plane on the way to the set, whatever that means. His touches, the existing plan by Lin, and the influence of second unit directors Spiro Razatos (MANIAC COP), Olivier Schneider (a stuntman from KISS OF THE DRAGON, THE MUSKETEER and THE TRANSPORTER) and Alexander Witt (SPEED, BLACK HAWK DOWN, NO TIME TO DIE), however they may combine, add up to another blissfully ridiculous chapter that I think I enjoyed a little more than FATE OF THE FURIOUS or F9. I know the charm has worn off for some people, but if you’re like me and you can’t stop smiling and laughing all the way through an adorably ridiculous movie like this, you know what to do.

FAST X could also be called FAST FIVE x 2: THE REVENGE, because it opens with FAST FIVE’s Rio vault heist from a different perspective. Now we learn that crime boss Reyes (Joaquim “Evil Phil Hartman” de Almeida, DESPERADO) had a son named Dante (Jason Momoa, Baywatch) who was about to inherit the family business. He was there when the vault got torn out of the wall and was driving one of the cars chasing them. He lost his dad, his empire, and his mind, and now he’s coming for vengeance.

But first there’s a little peace time. The fam have a barbecue where Dom (Vin Diesel, BLOODSHOT), Mia (Jordana Brewster, THE FACULTY) and Jakob (John Cena, 12 ROUNDS)’s grandma (Academy Award winner Rita Moreno, MARLOWE) gives a speech really laying it on thick about making a better life for “the next generation.” (Fast Babies coming soon.) I forget if another installment already did this, but I laughed at the shot where we can see everybody’s insane race cars parked up and down the block. It never occurred to me how much the neighbors must hate them. They better be bringing everybody leftover potato salad or something.

The family are still working for “The Agency” (fuckin sellouts) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson, ROGUE HOSTAGE) is excited to be leading a mission to steal a computer chip from a truck in Rome. He brings Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, MAX PAYNE) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel, ARMY OF THIEVES) and his plan involves laughing gas and a radio controlled car.

The word about Dante comes from an unlikely source: Cipher (Academy Award winner #2 Charlize Theron, AEON FLUX), who shows up badly wounded on the Toretto doorstep late at night because “the enemy of my enemy… is you.” Dom is tempted to kill her on sight, helpfully reminding us that she was the one who murdered his baby mama Elena. But Dom and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, WIDOWS) listen to her story about how “the Devil” showed up at her evil lair and stole her database and private army by revealing that he had all their loved ones held hostage.

Kurt Russell’s 7-9 character “Mr. Nobody” is said to be “in the wind,” so his underling Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood, WRATH OF MAN) comes to help, at which point they figure out the mission in Rome is a set up. So the first huge action/disaster set piece involves evil super villain Dante taunting them over the radio as they drive various vehicles trying to stop a giant rolling metal ball with a bomb inside from blowing up the Vatican. Just when it seems like it’s time to give up, Dom tries one last thing: causing his car to leap up and hit a crane, which spins around and hits the bomb like a pinball paddle, makes it bounce off another thing and etc. so that it falls off of a bridge and blows up in the water. The shockwaves knock over buildings and blow wind on Dante as he stands above posed like the Christ the Redeemer statue getting off on it, but they saved the Vatican. That’s pretty good.

The crane thing reminded me of my favorite part of one of Leterrier’s best movies, TRANSPORTER 2:


It took him directing this to make me realize that many of the FAST movies really are kind of like the tone of TRANSPORTER 2 inflated to blockbuster size. It really is a good match.

Dante makes it look like the team is responsible for the bomb, so Letty is arrested and taken to a black site by the Agency. In the absence of Mr. Nobody, the agency is being run by uptight upstart Aimes (Alan Ritchson, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES [2014]), who won’t listen to Mr. Nobody’s daughter Tess (Academy Award winner #3, Brie Larson, GREENBERG) when she swears they’re being set up, so she goes rogue to help them.

I like that Tess seems to be trying to outdo Cipher in stylishness and overdressing. I think her best moment is when she shows up to a shootout in a sky blue pantsuit and shiny, studded sneakers that she uses to scratch the paint on the hood of Dante’s car.

Academy award winner #4 of 4 is of course Helen Mirren, returning as Queenie, the mother of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, GHOSTS OF MARS). She helps Dom with something, so Dante decides to target her which, in my opinion, demonstrates extremely poor decision-making! I’ve seen some of the Statham pictures so I suspect he’ll come to regret this choice. Shaw’s part in this one is small, and includes a weird joke I didn’t follow because I didn’t remember the mid-credits scene from F9, but as always it’s good to see him.

You will not be surprised to know that one of the themes here is “Family.” The whole series has been about building bonds (including with those who once wronged you) that are more important than your job, the law, or anything else. Dante lost his family so he uses those bonds against anyone he needs something from, presumably having a huge warehouse somewhere filled with the abducted love ones of everybody he’ll ever bump into. Even before that, Dom realizes that having a son (Brian, a.k.a. Little B [Leo Abelo Perry, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2022]) has introduced him to the emotion of fear, and the primary mission of the movie is to protect Little B from Dante.

The kid is a funny addition because he’s like 9 or 10 but Dom’s teaching him how to drift and he’s already inherited the family business of climbing on and leaping from moving vehicles. It would be funny if he also wore a little muscle shirt, a macho little version of Dom like that kid in the Mr. T cartoon, but they go the opposite direction, having him run around in pajamas.

Another theme is “Faith,” symbolized by Dom’s crucifix necklace, but it doesn’t seem religious. It’s more of a new age/self help notion that if you believe in yourself you can do anything. This may be why Dom and his car are more super-powered than ever. The Charger has the ability to flatten other cars by landing on them in the right way, or throw them and ricochet them off things by hitting them at the correct angle. It can’t fly, but it’s like the early Superman who can leap so well it’s almost flying.

The primary element that makes this chapter different from the others is how Momoa plays the villain. I think he’s taking a Nicolas Cage approach – always mega, waving his arms around, occasionally dancing, often wearing a snakeskin jacket, trying to make weird choices in every scene, and say every line in a way you wouldn’t expect. As scripted he’s a sinister mastermind, a Joker or Riddler, and he enters his first present day scene carrying two dead bodies like they’re his luggage. But I think Momoa’s goofing on these movies, trying to subvert the other guys’ hyper-masculinity. In the same series where Diesel, Statham and the Rock supposedly calculate the number of hits they take and refuse to look weak, Momoa gets bloodied, drops to his ass, throws his tooth at Dom and calls him a “butthole.” He wears giant sunglasses and silky pastel outfits, puts his hair up, paints his finger and toe nails. At times he does an effeminate thing that could be interpreted as homophobic, but I don’t think he means it that way, so I’m glad I haven’t seen anyone taking it that way so far.

I think Momoa’s best roles take advantage of his innate combination of ruggedness and lovable teddy bear spirit, so playing a flamboyant pansexual maniac doesn’t come as naturally to him, and I don’t think his mega technique has reached Cage levels yet. But he had me laughing frequently, and has a handful of really funny lines, though often oddly timed – the one I laughed hardest at happens while we’re still processing the apparent death of a major character. It’s very weird! But even when it feels off or it’s too much it’s hard to hate because they’ve never tried having a villain like this in the series.

Aimes is a more traditional antagonist, but a good one. I know Ritchson from the Amazon series Reacher, where he’s perfect as the character from the Lee Child books, the enormous ex-military drifter who’s also smarter than everyone else. It’s very rare to see a muscleman who has to be so verbal and pulls it off. I assumed they’d just have him playing a henchman here but no, they take great advantage of those unique Reacher qualities. He has the honor of saying lines like “The days when one man behind the wheel of a car can make a difference are done,” and presenting footage from the previous movies to summarize the crew’s evolution from street racing thieves to super spies, their history of “corrupting” law enforcement and turning enemies into family, “like a cult with cars.” He even mentions the submarine from part 8 (but not going into space in 9).

I think Aimes accidentally makes a meta-point about the trajectory of the series. Remember, it started as this POINT BREAK riff about Dom, the street racer with the nuclear-level charisma, and Brian, the undercover cop who came to respect him so much he let him go. Since Diesel decided not to do part 2 it became another story of Brian (now with friend Roman) undercover as a street racer. And then Walker wouldn’t come back for part 3 so it was a side story about high school kids racing in Japan. Dom and Brian weren’t reunited until part 4, now an outlaw and an FBI agent reluctantly teaming to bust a drug lord responsible for the death (we’re told) of Letty. At the end of the movie Dom is sentenced to 25 years, so Brian resigns from the FBI and then helps free Dom from the prison bus in the opening of FAST FIVE.

That’s where the series truly got great, and where they leveled up from a small crew hijacking shipments of DVD players or gas to a full-on OCEAN’S 11 team doing elaborate, tricky heists. Crucially it’s also when this thief and cop who respect each other are finally real friends, and both outside the law. They’re honorable but they’re criminals.

FURIOUS 6 is almost magical realist in its depiction of cars, it’s very sincere and un-self-conscious in its emotions, and it still has international fugitives as its heroes. I love it like a brother. FURIOUS SEVEN is very good too, though impossible to separate from our knowledge of Walker’s tragic death. Another permanent mark that chapter left on the series was Dom and friends working for Mr. Nobody. They’re reluctant about it but they have fun being given all the resources they want (mostly cars) and they save the world and get pardoned and what not.

Rumor has it that Mr. Nobody was originally meant to be revealed as Brian’s dad. I believe it because in 6 Brian talks about not knowing who his dad is, and in 7 they ditch Nobody on the side of the road and he disappears for the last part. But the other thing that seems to be missing is the other shoe dropping. Doesn’t this seem like a too-good-to-be-true situation? The Agency has to turn on them, right? No, not in 7, 8 or 9. Now finally they do.

In this trilogy of post-Walker FASTs, obviously we’re missing the character of Brian, but we understand nothing can be done about that. The less understandable part is leaving them as a team of government agents instead of street racer renegades. Here they’ve been framed and the Agency has been infiltrated, so they might get cleared in the next one. I hope not. It’s time to go back to the streets.

I wish they could go back a little on the jokes too. I’ve always had misgivings about how many initially serious characters devolve into shtick and riffs. Roman continues to be the worst victim, followed by Hobbs, and it kinda happened to TOKYO DRIFT main character Sean Boswell and part 7 villain Shaw. But now we have the most rapid and drastic version of it – F9 lead villain Jakob has been welcomed back to the family so suddenly he’s an entirely different character who drives what his nephew considers an uncool car, wears goofy clothes purchased at a gas station, and raps along to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. I was okay with it for two reasons, though:

1. Cena has always been better at being funny than being serious

2. He’s with his nephew for the entire movie, so I like to interpret it that he’s just very different around kids than around adults.

When he first showed up I was happy because there are so many characters now that I forgot which ones were gonna be in it. He appears and I think, “Oh yeah, we have him on our team now!” Cipher isn’t officially on our team, but her and Letty being forced to work together is a good time, and they also have one of the best fights. It’s an unusual viewing experience because they’re not really fighting to accomplish anything – Letty just sees an opportunity to beat up someone she hates while they’re both trying to escape captivity. On a story level you gotta root for Letty, the good guy, but on a meta level I’m always rooting for Charlize. This is no ATOMIC BLONDE, but I’m glad they gave her a physical role instead of just threatening them over computer screens. She gets a one-on-one and a one-on-many in addition to her magical hacking skills.

Some touches I appreciated as a long time fan: Han (Sung Kang, BULLET TO THE HEAD) and Dom directly reference Los Bandaleros, the Diesel-directed short film made for the FAST & FURIOUS home video release. There’s a big street racing scene in Brazil that takes us back to the earlier films (but with bombs attached to the cars) while introducing a new racer character played by Daniela Melchior (Ratcatcher II from THE SUICIDE SQUAD). And my very favorite is that the climactic action moment (SPOILER: Dom driving straight down a dam as two tankers explode above him) throws in one of those camera-flies-into-the-hood-and-through-a-CGI-engine shots that were the main visual trademark of the first couple movies. Just like old times. Or kinda like old times, anyway. Drag racing straight down to Hell.

There are two super spoilers for this movie that I’m not going to get into. One I had a hunch about based on online discussion, the other caught me off guard. Both are exciting developments to look forward to in FUR11OUS. I’ve heard people say they don’t like the retconning (definition for non-nerds: retroactively changing what was supposed to have happened in previous chapters) and the bringing back characters, but to me that’s part of the magic. What other series has the audacity to do this type of stuff, to know full well that we know it’s ludicrous, and trust us to have fun with it? Not another one I know of. We’ve built a unique bond with this series.

And I submit that this is not a new ingredient – it’s the original recipe. Indulge me with one more Aimes-style presentation. In 2 there’s a woman in a pink anime car, and a scene where Tej destroys Brian’s car with the “surprise” of opening a bridge during a race, but Brian thinks it’s awesome. In 4 Dom goes to the site of Letty’s supposedly fatal car accident, smells the skidmarks and determines which mechanic customized the car that was involved. In the end credits of 5 they do their first resurrection (Letty). In the best moment of the best installment they have a chase on an airport runway that goes on for miles and miles and miles, and when they finally crash the plane the camera spins around to show that they had finally reached the end just then. Then on the end credits they do their first “you thought this happened in part 3 but actually a totally different thing happened and it involved Jason Statham.” These are just a few of the beautiful, wonderful, asinine things that happened in the prime of the series, well before these not as good ones.

The more they do these things the more silly they will seem, but make no mistake, they are the NOS injections that power the series. There are other movies you can watch that don’t do that kind of stuff – they’re called almost all of the other movies made between 1888 and 2023. If they stopped making all other movies this would be a problem, but until then it is the sacred duty of the FAST & FURIOUS movies to be both fast and furious. And if they keep living up to that responsibility of course I’ll be in a theater, possibly Imax, with my hand over my heart.

additional spoilery notes:

I gotta assume Uncle Jakob switched to his “Smooth Jams” or whatever tape by the time they got to the gas station, because there’s no way he had Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch on a mix tape with the Pharcyde. Let’s have some realism here Hollywood.

I like that for some reason Jacob has an old friend flight attendant who slyly helps him evade attackers and eject from a commercial flight. It turns out the actress is Paul Walker’s daughter Meadow.

Wasn’t that funny during the Cipher vs. Letty fight when Cipher suddenly typed something into a touch screen and caused a robot claw to swing across the room and shoot a laser at Letty? Hell of a hacker.

Wasn’t it also funny how they were using those giant metallic letters to tell us what different countries all the scenes take place in and all the sudden we get ANTARCTICA? Great joke.

Since they retconned Han’s death two different times (so that Jason Statham and Kurt Russell could be there) and now the vault chase (so Jason Momoa could be there) plus, it seems, the death of a certain character, it seems very possible 11 will give us far-fetched new information about who was on that endless runway from FURIOUS 6. Can’t wait.

Writing this review made me realize that the main villain in the last movie should be a long time neighbor of the Toretto house, who’s had to put up with their shit for decades, maybe lost a loved one from shrapnel when the house blew up. They could show a bunch of the events of previous films from the perspective of the neighbors’ yard. Think about it, guys. They believe in family but do they believe in being neighborly?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 24th, 2023 at 2:21 pm and is filed under Reviews, Action. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

51 Responses to “Fast X”

  1. I had a blast with this one. It doesn’t quite recapture the feeling of constant escalation from peak episodes 5 – 8 but it is a welcome course correction after the sluggish and uninspired ninth installment.

    While the level of spectacle has more or less plateaued, the serialization has compounded exponentially through 20 years of farfetched plotting into a multi generation ourorobos of resurrections and reveals that rivals late-run ANGEL for complexity and unlikeliness. This is either delightful or rage-inducing, depending on how seriously you took all this delirious gibberish in the first place. Like, if you ever thought street-racing was legitimately cool and not just a vestigial limb the series had to shed before it reached its final form, you will hate this movie. These people aren’t street racers anymore. They’re demi-gods from a comic book universe where the internal combustion engine grants superpowers. I can see how, if you actually live that fast and furious life for real for real, this would be a slap in the face. For the rest of us who always looked at these things as overblow pump, this is just the natural evolution.

    I mean, we’re on our third hero back from the grave here. Pretty sure Uncle Ben is gonna show up in Part 11.

    Side note: Can somebody tell me why FATE isn’t better regarded? To me it’s one of the better ones. Great, imaginative set-pieces that break new ground, an amazing villain, a solid plot hook, a couple ridiculous revelations…what’s not to love?

  2. *overblown pulp

  3. Actually, now that you mention it, if the FF series could only aim for an R Rating, then an Overblown Pump would be a welcome addition. Maybe Dom and Letty getting it on while skydiving, finishing just as they both land on top of a speeding train.

  4. I enjoyed FATE but for me it was the first one that felt slightly underwhelming on first viewing. Or at least not as good as the last one, even though the sub was funny. In retrospect maybe it’s the whole “yep, they’re spies now” thing, plus Hobbs fully transforming into “I’m just the Rock now, and a dad.” But the other day I watched the opening Cuba scene on TV and I thought, “Man, I need to watch this again.”

  5. I did enjoy FATE, it showed a rare vulnerable side to Dom where he’s not the Prime Alpha holding all the good cards, at least in the 1st half. The shooting of Elena took the series to a dark place it usually avoids on the way to the next ridiculously overblown set piece. And subsequent viewings actually made me appreciate the action a little more.

    My pure (possibly bullshit) speculations why it wasn’t as well regarded:

    1. The series works better when Dom is with his team, “Avengers Assemble”-ing them to concoct the next Mission Impossible style caper. Keeping him separated from them didn’t quite work the same magic (my issue with X as well)

    2. Having one of the Best Female Action Stars as your chief baddie and relegating her to long, whispery monologues and threats….. and typing. (something X corrected, so kudos on that)

    3. FURIOUS 7 delivered both an exciting and emotional high with one of the best and poignant send-offs to a departed cast member. FATE, following that, wasn’t quite hitting you at that emotional level, although it delivered on the thrills.

    4. Until FAST 9 retconned and resurrected Han, there was something a little off about Deckard showing up with Dom’s kid and settling down for lunch with them at the end. As a Statham fan, I wasn’t too fussed but from the point of view of who the character actually is, it didn’t quite gel. Yeah I get it, he had his own score to settle with Cipher, so why not grab Dom’s kid from the plane while I kick her ass at the same time but….yeah this is what happens when you actually try to analyze motives in a FAST series.

  6. I really love how it seems y’all can actually remember which is which…

  7. It’s my (possibly foggy) recollection that the series was developing a pattern of escalating hard-assed antagonists. The Rock, then Jason Statham. Who could be next? Stone Cold Steve Austin? The Ultimate Warrior?

    Fucking Charlize Theron
    In a dreadlock wig
    As a magical hacker

    Can’t imagine why that was a disappointment…

    I apologize if I’m addressing the incorrect installment

  8. Oh yeah, that was the other thing, Dom having to act evil for most of the movie. That was actually my main issue with it. But I think KayKay is right, the thing most fans seemed to have against it was feeling betrayed that Shaw could show up at the house and shake hands with Dom like everything was fine now. (Lin also said that that really bothered him.) I take it in an operatic, not literal spirit, but of course it’s kind of a more far-fetched forgiveness than the other ones. Turns out he didn’t really kill Han, but were the staff of that hospital he massacred also faking their deaths with the help of Mr. Nobody?

    I still like it though and I’m glad Majestyk holds it in a higher regard.

  9. Said most of what I had to say on the F9 review and Vern covered how Jakob feels like a completely different guy from the person who wanted to destroy the world last movie. I don’t know if I can, in all honesty, call the Post-Bryan Era ‘good’, but it’s like the later seasons of a fun sitcom. Their best years are behind them and some of the magic (not to mention the cast members) are gone, but it’s still worth a watch just because everyone still knows how to do their job and you might as well see how it ends. It’s frustrating that there’s no real reason these things can’t hit the heights of the First Justin Lin Title Reign again, But I don’t think Bond or the MCU has been able to manage the same consistency in the same timeframe (seriously, who’s a better villain, Cypher or Waltzfeld?) and John Wick has already done the “let’s go out on top” thing. So it’ll be interesting to see how that ages in comparison. Maybe in five years, we’ll be wishing we got a John Wick Chapter 8 where it turns out his wife never died, but is being held prisoner by Dave Bautista, et al et al.

    And I must say… in a landscape where every old hero has to come back from retirement as a deadbeat dad who’s a disdained failure, it is refreshing that Dom and the gang are mostly happy, settled down into stable relationships, and raising kids. How many other series would’ve made Dom a miserable wretch and shoved him out of the spotlight to focus on Kid Cudi or whoever?

    That’s not nothing.

  10. Fast 8 is maybe one of the better ones if you take a macro view and compare it to 1 through 4, but was definitely a significant step down from the highs of 5, 6 and 7 (and then 9 was another significant step down even 8). I think Paul Walker was maybe more important than I knew to give him credit for until he was gone. Maybe not important to rest of the world, considering the movies are still so uber-successful, but maybe just important to me. When Walker was around, I was never bothered by the transparent egomania of Vin Diesel (and Dwayne Johnson), but with him gone I started rolling my eyes for the first time.

    Also the plot of 8 — where they have gone from stick-it-to-the-man Robin Hoods to working for Big Brother in their effort to institute the Super Patriot Act — was gross. And Scott Eastwood sucks, him being there as the generically handsome white guy replacement for Walker was insulting.

  11. I think my absolute faviourte bit about Fast and the Furious’s obbsession with soap opera style narative swerves is in this movie how


    Jakob does a heroic sacrafice and dies in a huge firey explosion and it’s incredibly dramatic and then like, 5 minutes later Gal Gadot shows up again to remind us that “No one will ever stay dead except Gina Carano” in this franchise. I feel like the chances that Jakob stays dead in 11st and the Furious is close to 0.


    I actually heard people at my screening complaining about this movie’s resurrection calling bullshit on “They were DEAD!” Like really? Ok die on that hill. I think most fans genuinely want them to come back.

    And no I don’t believe for a second anyone in this movie died for good.

  13. Peter Campbell

    May 25th, 2023 at 3:14 am

    I had a lot of fun with Fast X. Sometimes that is all you need. Took my nephew to see it and we both had a fun time with it and its glorious absurdities.

    Like Fate it had the characters split up and I think this was done better between the cutting of the different areas of the plot. Fate felt very start-stop between the various plot-lines and how they unfolded on-screen, so it began to feel awkward even within the action, where nothing felt like that had enough momentum for any clear dramatic development to grab the audience, especially in the middle of the film. This film had more direction between scenes as they were on the run from the CIA and had a villain with a very clear agenda, so even as they as they were on the run, and it was getting silly in the way we want these films to be, there was a clear storyline to return to. It’s villains were fun, clear and it all worked as an entertainment that knew it was ridiculous. I think as a blockbuster it was directed better to the audience expectation than Fate, which felt clumsy at times in its cutting, like the director was miscast.

  14. I didn’t get a chance to see this last week, but I’m planning a viewing this Friday, and I’m excited. I agree about that Fate is underrated. The hook of Dom betraying them is just perfect, and the climax is suitably absurd. You would think they couldn’t top the chase through LA or the runway, but I think they did, at least in scope and absurdity.

    It’s also weird to hear people complaining about these movies being too absurd now. I mean, unless you are allergic to CGI spectacle, this really isn’t the time to start complaining about the F&F movies being unrealistic. I do think you can see online how particular opinions take over out of nowhere until everyone is repeating the same thing.

  15. I really enjoyed Fast X too… I think Fast Five is still the best one, with #6 & #7 close behind. Fast X is somehow bringing back the serie to the fun of the 5, 6 and 7 parts. I think that for me, one of the reasons I feel less connected to #8 and especially #9 is that they are going too far in breaking the law of physics… I can enjoy the car jumping from one skyscraper to another in #7 – but the space bit was maybe too much (or the car swinging from one cliff to another earlier in the same movie). I am all for unrealistic action scenes – but when it goes too far, you simply disconnect. I think that what made Fast Five so good was the feeling of practical effects in the Rio car chase at the end – here in Fast X, the scene in Rome with the big bomb seems closer to that practical approach. The other element that can take me out of the fun of these films, is when they go too far by using computers and technology gizmos to solve everything – it started with the “God’s Eye” in #7, but went further in #8 and #9 (and to a certain extend in Hobbs & Shaw)… again, Fast Five was more grounded and “simple”. Good to see again that Fast X is less focused on the technology bits.

    I am wondering if Vin Diesel and Universal are simply copying the Marvel MCU handbook – adding new characters with every movie, making vilains becoming heroes, bringing people back from the dead… now Fast X feels like the F&F version of Avengers Infinity War (an ending with a cliffhanger! many heroes potentially dead!) – so hopefully if Fast 11 will be their Endgame version, we will get some time travel included!!

  16. I’ll respectfully disagree with some of the sentiments floating around here about realism/absurdity, because I think there is a sort of realism mixed in to these movies’ appeal. Yes, they’re physically impossible, but there’s a throwback 80s straight-forwardness to them–an unwinking, untongue-in-cheek approach that not only sells the joke, but gives the movies heart. You get the feeling that there’s some sincerity behind all the posturing about honor and brotherhood and family. And I think the Cypher Era movies are losing sight of that with smarmy self-awareness and pandering to the audience too hard. The whole “nothing matters! Every villain can switch sides! Any corpse can come back to life!” thing just isn’t as fun to me as these summer blockbusters *that should be nothing more than toy commercials* unironically going for Lord of the Rings With Cars.

  17. Honestly I don’t watch action movies to show realism. Reality is boring. A realistic FAST & FURIOUS wouldn’t work, which is why they even had to exaggerate a 10 second race down a straight road in part 1.

    For me it’s not the “what” that sells an action scene, but the “how”. Bend the laws of physics and probability as much or as little as you want, but make it exciting! And there are many ways to make it exciting. It doesn’t even have to look real. People are complaining about the cartoony CGI climaxes in superhero movies, but fuck that, I like that shit! And I can’t think of any F&F movie that had boring action scenes.

  18. Leterrier said in interviews that FAST FIVE was his favorite and he wanted to bring it back to that level of unreality and physical stunts vs. digital FX. I have no opinion on whether he achieved that or not.

  19. I’ve not seen this yet, so I guess this might be spoilerish, but I truly believe that in 11 Brian will come back to save them. Don’t ask me how they’ll do it, but this all began with Brian and Dom, and that has to be where they are heading back to. And Brian actually isn’t dead, so they don’t even need a resurrection back story.

  20. I’m not talking about physical realism–obviously the charm is seeing what gonzo stunt they can top themselves with next–but emotional realism/lack thereof. When Deckard goes from killing one of Dom’s family to hugging it out at the barbecue. Or when Jakob goes from a hateful supervillain to a funcle with no in-between. I can buy Dom throwing thirty guys over a railing in thirty seconds, but when he’s doing it as an emotional response to something that turns out to be a lie or a spy game or a misunderstanding… it just kinda kills it for me. Why should I be invested in this when it can all turn out to be (essentially) a dream sequence at any moment?

  21. “I actually heard people at my screening complaining about this movie’s resurrection calling bullshit on “They were DEAD!” Like really? Ok die on that hill. I think most fans genuinely want them to come back.”

    I’m with the boo-ing fans on this particular point.

    Ok, with regards to the outlandish action sequences, as someone who started watching action movies from the 70s, I have had to recalibrate my suspension of disbelief every few decades. So, I’ve gone from hearing my dad scoff about how not a single bullet hit Eastwood and Locke in the climax of THE GAUNTLET to hearing people sneer about Arnie taking on the entire Val Verde Armed Forces in COMMANDO without a scratch to now accepting that cars can fly from 1 skyscraper to another, and another, and that Dom can fly through the air, catch Letty and land safely on a car to The Rock diverting a speeding torpedo’s trajectory. On Ice. With his hands. I’m fine with that all of that shit.

    But my line in the sand is what Kaplan so eloquently puts as the endless “resurrection of corpses” that seems to be a major thing in these mega franchises these days, with FF being an especially egregious offender. It points, IMHO to a paucity in creativity and imagination in the writing not to mention a surprising lack of long term vision given not a single installment since FF4 has ever pretended it was the last one.

    So, let’s take the resurrections:

    Letty: Ok, not the biggest fan in the world of Michelle Rodriguez so didn’t quite get why bringing Letty back was so phenomenally important, Elsa Pataky or Gina Carano could have filled that gap (oh, sorry she’s Toxic now I gather?) but never mind. We have to accept the asshole who fucked her over didn’t cap her with a headshot, but shot the gas tank, making the car explode and the impact threw her body to safety. Idiot didn’t stick around to even verify a charred corpse. Serves him right when Dom killed him with a car. Such stupidity will not stand. So, I guess this is ok?

    Han: See, killing off Han in FF3 made perfect sense. It upped the emotional stakes for the hero who now had an added reason to take down that asshole Yakuza Drift King. Then in FF6 it’s revealed that Han’s death was a premeditated, by Jason Statham no less! Another delightful twist, giving Dom a worthy adversary. Then…..well, why not continue to have Statham as an anti-hero, a guy Dom and Hobbs may have to work with reluctantly but would never ever be friends with cause of the shadow of Han’s murder hanging over them? But no, Statham needs to “join the family” and so the whole “Justice for Han” conundrum begins which could only have been resolved by…what in my opinion still ranks as the single most stupefying retconned scene in history (right next to an entire season of Dallas being Pamela Ewing’s dream once Patrick Duffy decided to return. Sorry for the very dated 70s soap opera reference) to bring Han back

    Once again, I like the character of Han and Sung Kang plays him with a nice laidback charm and it hits a sweet spot of mine that it’s the junk food munching, nerdy looking Asian who lands the impossibly hot Gal Gadot. But I didn’t realize he was so essential to the series. On that note, is it so essential to have Statham in FF? The man is about to take over the 4th EXPENDABLES, has a second MEG due and he may still have another MECHANIC or CRANK in him, and that’s not counting another go at HOBBS & SHAW. Just how many franchises does the man need to anchor? You could have ended his story arc by leaving him in prison at the end of 7 and leave the world thinking he’ll rot there. That’s Justice for Han!

    Which naturally brings me to…and for obvious reasons




    Just how the fuck are they going to explain the Return of Giselle in any way that doesn’t snap the cables holding my disbelief in suspension?

    At the end of 6, if I remember, the albino motherfucker shot her and she falls off a speeding 747. The plane I recall stopped several meters away and exploded so likely she didn’t blow up in the explosion. So, Han didn’t recover her shot and broken corpse and give her a funeral before deciding to go to Tokyo? Epic Fail there, Boyfriend!

    So, she wasn’t really dead, limped off the tarmac with a bullet wound, half a dozen broken bones, hooked up with Cipher who fixed her up and recruited her? And at no point did she make any attempt to contact Dom and Gang or even Han. Well, so much for “Family” then.

    So, if EVERY fucking person who dies gets to come back, then what’s my emotional investment in them or their stories?

    Reminds me of that brilliant scene at the end of KISS KISS BANG BANG where Downey Jr is surprised to see Val Kilmer alive and thinks he’s hallucinating and then decided hell why not let all the dead people in the movie come back and out troop all the baddies and their victims for a photo finish.

    Shane Black is more prescient than he realizes.

  22. That was a long rant, and obviously, outside of the Kaplans and KayKays of the world, most people seem to have adopted a “Woah, it’s FF man, anything goes, dude” Zen mindset about this whole Bringing Up The Dead phenomenon. So I guess I’ll just go recalibrate my disbelief suspension. Again.

  23. Now that I think about it, do we actually know that’s Giselle? They’ve done amnesia and government coverup but they haven’t gone the evil twin route yet. That would be a less world-breaking form of preposterousness in my opinion.

  24. If it’s a clone/twin/robot copy/Jason Voorhees post Part IV situation, I obviously retract my complaint.

  25. I think FATE suffers from being the first one without Paul Walker and also the one with the flimsiest excuse for his absence. His best bud goes AWOL and he stays home? Come on. 9 mostly worked because it was Dom’s actual brother and thus Mia had more reason to be there, so I can see him being like “Sigh, FINE, I’ll stay with the kids this time.” X made sense since they wanted to stay in hiding and Dante was monitoring their communications. But Fate… the entire time I kept questioning where he was, and then they name the baby “Brian” which was just bizarre. Also having “Little Nobody” show up in the role obviously penciled in for Brian when they came up with the story just made it worse (especially if you go with the theory that Brian was Nobody’s son). Then you add in the behind the scenes reason for its plot (get Vin away from everyone else for as much as possible – also what they do in 9/10 fwiw, though on a lesser scale) and it just makes the whole thing feel more like work than fun. Plus, retconning Han’s death in 9 doesn’t excuse everyone’s behavior in 8.

    AND it spawned Hobbs & Shaw, which is still the worst one of these movies.

    All that said I prefer it to 9. X is the best of the four (inc. H&S) since Walker passed.

  26. Naming their son Brian is so funny an in-universe perspective. The other characters would think it was so strange.

  27. Franchise Fred

    May 26th, 2023 at 3:12 pm

    How many SPOILERS must I write before the spoiler doesn’t show up on the right hand side of the site? Hope this is enough.

    KayKay, the way Giselle literally fell into an ambiguous black void seemed obviously set up to leave her open to return. She didn’t get hit by a bullet. She “sacrificed” herself to kill the guy who was trying to kill Han, which makes a lot more sense if she knew she wasn’t plummeting to her death.

    I don’t remember her being anywhere near the plane explosion but I’ll have to watch it again.

    The best point is “why didn’t she call Han in Tokyo?” They will have to explain that though it can’t be any worse than “Mr Nobody made it happen and I had to stay ‘dead’ to keep you all safe.”

    To me, killing off characters is a lazier trope than bringing them back. People like it for supposed stakes if anyone could die, but once you understand it’s all fiction so it’s an arbitrary choice, that doesn’t really hold. Personally, once you reach the point of killing off a character you’ve essentially run out of story ideas before that point, so when you have new ideas worth bringing them back for that’s more creatively promising.

    Of course there are character deaths and noble sacrifices that work but modern writers are so far from understanding the narrative function of that they use it as a cheap trick. Or because Gadot signed onto a superhero franchise and might not be available (and Tokyo Drift painted them into a corner).

    In conclusion, bring back Matt Schultz’s. #justiceforVince

  28. I have never a single one of these and had no plans to but seeing Jason Mamoa take the piss out of Vin Diesel and his hyper-masculine bullshit is awfully tempting…

  29. JTS – That’s what I always think! It would’ve made so much more sense to name him Han, but of course that would seem funny now too.

  30. Franchise Fred

    May 26th, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    They really should’ve gone meta and named him Paul. Paul was the one who died, not Brian. Maybe that would be going too far…

  31. I had a lot of fun with this one. I’ll get into SPOILERS below.

    This was ruined for me before the film, but I don’t really know what Gal Gadot adds to the series. Her character was never as unique or interesting as Han, so bringing her back doesn’t seem that exciting. (And it made sense to bring back Han to resolve the problem with everyone being buddy, buddy with Shaw.) But we’ll see where they go with it.

    It’s also hilarious to see The Rock come crawling back to this series after that acrimonious break up. It would be perfect if that beef between him and Vin Diesel was staged, although I doubt that was the case

    Also, what do you think of this as a trilogy or a two part ender? I agree that the series lost something when Paul Walker passed away, but I like 8 more than most, and I kind of want two more of these rather than just one.

  32. Credit where credit’s due, I should say it’s a testament to the creatives’ talent that, despite the water treading, the movie is propulsively paced and never boring. Even when people are getting into fights over bags of chips, something is always happening. It rarely *feels* like they’re just table-setting for the next installment–even if, intellectually, you know that’s what’s really happening.

    Compare to your average Bayformers installment, where you’d *definitely* be feeling the thing being two and a half hours.

  33. I did have a good time for the most part with this, really enjoyed Momoa, but something did feel off with it compared to other late-series entries and I think finding out afterwards Letterier was a last minute replacement kinda explains it. He did mostly fine, but it didn’t quite feel the same.

    I did appreciate that they actually let that bomb go off and wreck Rome like that. Kind of a copout that nobody died, but at least it was a dramatic first act thing that drove the stakes a bit more than when MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT opened with the tease that something similar happened…then revealed it was a fakeout, just like later on it teased that Ethan did something rather dramatic and against his morals for the sake of the mission…they revealed it was just him imagining things going wrong so he’d come up with a different plan. And all this was after seemingly killing off a long-running character in the series at the beginning…but then revealing he was fine because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Stuff like all that would fly in F&F more than M:I, because the latter takes itself a bit more seriously.

    I think this series could cut back on the gratuitous cameos though. Last film, it was Cardi B as some sort of never seen before heist buddy of Dom’s. This film it was Pete Davidson who I don’t particularly hate, but just really stuck out here as unneeded. Also Rita Moreno, because I dunno, I think finally seeing Dom’s MOTHER giving him advice would have had bigger impact than his grandma.

    I also found it weird that they establish that Dante was alive and well, and supposedly free immediately after the events of FAST 5, but he chose to just wait ten years before starting his revenge plan, supposedly watching the events of all the other movies and not at any point being concerned that the other villains might kill Dom before he start fucking with him. At least reveal he was apprehended and put in a maximum security insane asylum for all those years before SPOILER got him out of there.

  34. Oh and as for future villains, how about the unnamed, unseen aristocrat “head of state” father of Otto, Cipher and Jakob’s moneyman in the last film? Bring in Arnold as the archduke of some fictional eastern European nation who plans to cut Dom’s head off with a broadsword or something.

  35. Stu, I thought the news said there were 9 casualties in Rome. We just didn’t see them.

    Good point about Dante waiting ten years. I thought about that too. Also the timeline has ruined chronology. It’s ten years after 2011’s Fast Five but present day 2023. Tokyo Drift happened sometime after and Han is somehow only 39 on his dating app (probably lying but still).

  36. I figured he spent a few years in a coma and then spent the rest of the time building back his empire after Da Family stole it all. It takes funding to pull off a global revenge scheme of this scale.

  37. I’m not in the Fast “family” – I’ve seen 7, whichever out of 8 or 9 is the one where Dom is “evil” for a while, and now this one. So, speaking as someone not infested with the apparent brain worm that causes long-time fans to arbitrarily decide these movies suck now (because what other reason could you have to dislike one of them amIright?) – this one fucking sucked.

    First, yeah, the action was way over the top. And nothing in Fast 7 bothered me, but watching this one I felt it was absurd to the point of being impossible to enjoy. The action really is getting worse, if the sample size of three can be trusted. I don’t think it’s brainsick fans whining about nothing.

    Second, it didn’t end so much as stop at an arbitrary point. And I don’t have a problem with cliffhangers, I love The Empire Strikes Back and I think Infinity War is one of the strongest MCU movies, but this is *not* how you do a cliffhanger. The rhythm of it was all wrong. “Killing” Dom’s crew 10 minutes before “killing” Dom only to end with Theron and Rodriguez being rescued by Godot (sorry, I don’t know the character names) – it’s just tone deaf.

    Third, and really this makes the prior point worse, the story was so repetitive. It had multiple scenes of Don and Jason Momoa facing off only for the tables to turn and Momoa to run off cackling and delivering exposition about how hell make Dom suffer, wash rise repeat. So the final confrontation at the dam didn’t feel meaningful or special, it only felt bigger.

    At least not being all that familiar with the franchise I didn’t pick up on all the resurrections, so those didn’t bother me. I did pick up the vibe that John Cena won’t actually stay dead though. And I knew about Han being dead and then not really, so that’s something?

  38. This came out on digital in basically no time at all (I have no idea why they would do that so quickly when it’s still in theatres and still doing pretty well, but hey) so I’ve now watched it.

    And man, my takeaway is this series is cooked. I would describe this entry as an overall not-fun movie that at least has some fun moments and performances.

    Sorry to say, I don’t agree with Fred’s take on the death thing and the idea it’s actually more fun when characters are never be dead for good because then we get more of them. I think it’s more fun when there are stakes. Fast Seven was fun because of the ‘now it’s personal’ element of the villain actually having offed a beloved member of the crew. It’s less fun in retrospect because of the retconning.

  39. After the next two movies and the series is over, though, I hope some fan with Adobe Premier takes it upon themselves to edit the whole thing in chronological order and makes it available for people like me to download. Han’s death in Tokyo Drift with the two back-to-back retcons will be very funny, as will the end of Fast Five when Reyes’ son appears all of a sudden for the end sequence.

  40. I thought it was fine, but I also felt that way about the last one and I’ve forgotten about 90% of that now, so we’ll see where I am when the next one comes around.

    Not to be too Ellis, but I think it’s worth noting that this one’s struggling a bit at the Box Office, relatively speaking, particularly in the US. Still the GDP of several nations mind you, and it may lap Part 9, but budgets are going up on these films and profits are going down. I don’t think they’ll pull an ALLEGIENT 2: DIVERGENT 4 on this, but they might SAW 3D/FREDDY’S DEAD it and go for one “final” chapter. Or maybe the Hobbes X Dante film is part of the “final two” they started talking up recently? Who knows?

  41. I do think the Hobbs movie was what Vin was referring to, because it was out of the blue at the premiere that he first said they might do 2 more instead of 1 more. They have to have decided that very recently since they only convinced The Rock to do the scene very recently.

    Of course, for this series it is not impossible to believe they planned a 2-parter and then at the last minute decided to add a new main character to the 2nd one.

  42. I wonder if a whole bunch of people are sitting this one out until the conclusion is available. Even 2PIDER-VERSE dropped despite all the love it got to #2 in its second week.

  43. Hot take: This is the best of the series and a delightful escalation of the giddy fever-dream logic of Furious 7. If every movie in the series was on this wavelength, it’d probably be my favorite franchise. The eye-rolling leaps of logic and plot contrivances are somehow hilarious this time instead of lazy. (No, I can’t explain why Cipher gassing everyone one-handed from a tiny panel of her hospital bed is funny when i probably would have gotten mad if that same thing happened in Furious 9, but oh well). The action scenes are fun and coherent and expensive looking. Dante is clearly the best villain in the series by a mile. Cipher is actually a legit intriguing character now. The new characters are watchable and interesting unlike whoever Han’s sidekick was from the last movie. And am I crazy or is Diesel really bringing it this time? There’s just something about his performance where he commands the screen quietly instead of just looking bored like he has in the last few ones. I like this version of Dom alot.

    I like how everyone made fun of The Rock and Diesel and Statham for making too many macho demands in the previous ones, but guess what – they were onto something. This entire movie’s plot seems predicated on giving every single actor involved a chance to be John Wick for 30 seconds and destroy a gang of faceless dudes while looking as iconic as possible, and the movie is somehow better for it. Mia can now out-fight heavily armored swat dudes. Cipher now has martial arts skills. Han can somehow go toe-to-toe with Statham now. Even Larson and Ritchson get scenes where they beat up a bunch of nobodies. It’s like a rite of passage in the Furious Universe or something. *SPOILER* I’m actually kinda shocked Gadot just opened a sub hatch and Johnson just crushed a walkie-talkie, and they didn’t have an entrance where they beat the shit out of 20 dudes. (they will in the next one, obviously)

    Sure it’s not perfect. The John Cena fun-uncle scenes just aren’t funny, and I don’t think I’m ever going to find Tyrese and Luda as hilarious as they think they are. People keep telling me Pete Davidson is funny but I have yet to see proof of this. (What exactly was the mysterious powder that Tyrese was blowing in people’s faces, btw?) I often forgot who was where (like, I literally wasn’t sure what country half the characters were in most of the time) But the good parts are more plentiful and the bad parts are less painful than in the other movies, which is kind of all I’m asking for.

    Question: Where is Brian supposed to be exactly? When an unseen force knocks a dude straight across the room and Mia smiles, I totally thought we were in for CGI Brian instead of just Jakob. Like why is Brian not hiding out with Mia, storyline-wise? If they explained I seemed to have missed it.

  44. At this point it would be silly if they felt like they had to keep explaining why Brian isn’t there. We all get it. Why spend screen time bending over backward to make it make sense?

  45. Anyway, they did explain it, story-line wise. Brian and Mia have two kids, he’s off taking care of them.

  46. I agree. I’ve seen that Brian complaint all over the place and it seems so silly to me. We all understand that they made the (admittedly unusual) choice to keep him alive, we all understand why we’re not seeing him, I would think we would all be capable of rolling with it.

  47. Ok I must have somehow missed that line about Brian taking care of the kids. I wouldn’t have thought about Brian at all (I never really did in 8 or 9) except for some reason I thought the villains in Fast X were home-invading Mia and Brian’s house where she was hiding Little B, so I just thought it was odd they made the choice to do that without Brian there. But now I think I got it entirely wrong and Mia was actually staying in Dom and Letty’s House(?) I’m wondering if other people complaining were similarly confused.

  48. That’s right, Mia was babysitting Little B.

  49. at Dom and Letty’s house.

  50. On one of the 3 or 4 podcasts about FAST X I’ve listened to someone said they should kill Brian off now, or should’ve had Dante do it at the beginning here so there would be “stakes.” Uh, yeah, sorry. They will do some crazy shit with these movies, but not that.

    On the other hand, the recent Netflix Power Rangers reunion special did [SPOILER] kill off and grieve Trini, because the actress died in 2001.

  51. I agree that killing Brian off now would be the worst decision. Keeping him alive just adds to the tower of improbabilities and absurdities which powers the FAST franchise at this point where characters played by still alive actors are killed off then brought back in a heartbeat, and the one actor who’s not has his character kept alive. Furthermore I rank Paul Walker’s exit from the franchise as one of the most poignant and classy send offs in film history (even poor Phillip Seymour Hoffman only got a grainy insert in the last HUNGER GAMES) and actually killing off Brian would be a shitty move that just undoes all that hard-earned goodwill.

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