Directed by: Louis Letterier
Distributed by: Universal
Written by Alexander Reams
If there was an appropriate response to the constant line-crossing that plagued Justin Lin’s final installment (for now) in the “Fast” franchise, “Fast X” is possibly the best version that could be delivered amidst the chaos that circulates around Vin Diesel like a gravitational pull that pushes directors to their limit, i.e. Lin left the production of “Fast X” in freefall when he walked off-set due to the diva nature of Diesel. Only to be replaced by another director who comes in excited (which Leterrier has said many times that he is) and is then shackled with the demands of a star who could either continue the trend of action stars “saving movie theaters” or bring down the entire studio behind him in one swing. Diesel’s latest improves over the foolish mistakes of “F9” but is still held back by his inability to share the spotlight with another performer.
I say this, but it’s his presence that hangs over other scenes. Even when Jason Momoa is doing his version of the Joker, Diesel’s stunted line delivery protrudes because every other performer feels more comfortable than him. For someone who leads this franchise, he never looks like he belongs in the film. “Fast X” starts off with the titular Toretto family at the iconic barbeque, Rita Moreno shows up for one scene (you can almost hear the “cha-ching” sound when she walks off-screen). Leterrier shoots the scenes as traditionally as he can, but the nostalgia of the old days is why they continue to work.
Last seen losing her drone, Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up and looks a little worse for wear. Theron’s barely in the film, but her sole purpose is to introduce Jason Momoa’s Dante Reyes (son of Hernan Reyes from “Fast Five”). Momoa’s entrance feels like the old days of the franchise, the villain is far more comical, and the performer has a great time doing it. The way that screenwriters Justin Lin and Dan Mazeau insert Momoa into the franchise canon is one of the smarter employments of unseen characters that the franchise has used in some time. As a fan, I adored the energy he brought to the franchise and the boost of energy. It was much needed after the slog that was “F9.” Reyes’ goals are clear; punish the family, then death. It’s an unfamiliar motif but what sets his villain apart is that he actually does it.
“Fast X” does something new, the villain is actually allowed to win battles. The plot armor that protected so many before is stripped away, the money is gone, the police are after them, and a psychopath with an army wants to hook as much collateral damage to their names as possible. This kicks off in Rome, which clearly the “Fast” franchise has wanted to go to, the cinematography is full of luscious wides mixed with frenetic drone work that is never allowed to breathe properly. As if they watched “Ambulance” and took the wrong lessons from it. As a whole, the action sequences of “X” are an improvement from “F9” but it’s cluttered with murky CGI and unnecessary quick cuts that seem to get quicker with every film.
Leterrier does a legitimately good job behind the camera, he leads the film in a way that hasn’t been done since James Wan’s “Furious 7” and it works because of it. This isn’t a complete return to form, but we’re on the right path. With Leterrier signed on for the next entry, “Fast X” could cement itself as a much-needed turning point to one of this writer’s favorite series.
“Fast X” Trailer