Fast X: Finale Part 1 Review

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| May 31, 2023

It’s been three days since I watched Fast X, and I have yet to fully come to terms with it. Does this film achieve exactly what it wanted to in a masterful piece of storytelling, or are my feelings a happy accident, an excuse for discombobulated storytelling? My mind is befuddled, and I keep swinging back and forth.

Fast X is the tenth mainline installment of the Fast and Furious franchise. Debuting in 2001, the then car-focused action film was a modest success, mainly appealing to gearheads and adolescent boys. The franchise has produced nine sequels, one spinoff, and countless video games, garnering a massive following in the process. Gradually, the series has evolved from small-time street racing to bombastic, ridiculous action films.

This one is no different.

But I’m burying the lead. Is Fast X good? I mean, it’s not terrible, but good is a reach, and it’s worse than many of the other installments in the series. It certainly has high-octane action pieces and a larger-than-life villain, excellently played by Jason Momoa. And it has FAMILY. It has all the elements to create a fantastic Fast and Furious movie, but it didn’t quite come together.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Good

Are you not entertained?!

Dante Freaking Reyes. In my Fast X preview article, I said that Dante Reyes would be out for vengeance after the events of Fast 5. What it didn’t say is that Dante would be a dangerous, over-confident, psychopathic criminal mastermind. Jason Mamoa does a great job bringing the flamboyant villain to the big screen. He’s over-the-top (almost too much, even by Fast and Furious standards), but it works. He channels a little of Ledger’s Joker (The Dark Knight) and a little of Cage’s Caster Troy (Face/Off) to create the Brazilian maniac.

Dante is successful at being a pest for the entire movie, pulling off some big victories, which legitimizes him as the family’s biggest threat yet.

The action in Fast X is excellent and unrealistic, but f*ck physics. There was even an acknowledgment of how ridiculous the action is within the movies! We have a car chase in Rome, a car dragging helicopters down with it, explosions on a dam, and that was all shown in the trailers! You haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until you get to Jacob’s (John Cena) special tank car. Car chases and explosions are what this franchise does best.

When a giant game of bowls goes wrong

In terms of the story, it sticks to its core values. Family. Specifically, the destruction of one’s family. To see the Toretto clan be built up over ten installments only to see Dante try to rip that apart is karma. Dom (Vin Diesel) took away Dante’s family and legacy, so I could see Dom raining fire and brimstone on each person who wronged him, which is exactly what Reyes does. Almost every major character introduced in the franchise that is still living is mentioned or makes an appearance, which is awesome for fans like me. Even if those appearances mean that they are in mortal danger.

The Bad

I love the Toretto family, and I enjoyed the additions over the years. In Fast X, those extensions felt rushed. Danielle Melchior’s Isabel and Brie Larsen’s Tess seemed to be welcomed in by Dom without question, without suspicion. Knowing that the team had been deceived by someone purporting to be their friend; it was an odd feeling to see them welcome new members into the fold with ease. Especially Tess, the supposed daughter of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). She’s shadowy by nature, and Dom just takes her at her word!

With Fast and Furious, you expect a certain amount of cheesy dialogue. But on this occasion, it felt a little too much. The story was bloated, meaning there was little interaction between the characters. The conversations we heard, though? I habitually rolled my eyes. That’s the drawback of having a big ensemble cast. You’ve got to convey a massive amount without sufficient screen time to do it. Dom’s interactions with Tess and Queenie (Helen Mirren) were examples that stood out, amounting to platitudes and cringey “family” dialogue.

Helen Mirren is still awesome as Queenie Shaw

I have not seen Fast X marketed as a “Part 1”, but that’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t have a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn’t have a satisfactory conclusion. Fast X is a setup movie for the actual finale, Fast and Furious 11 – The End of the Furious (guessing at the title. Sounds good, though, right?). Dominic Toretto, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), and the rest of the family’s fates are left uncertain and look bleak. It’s darkest before the dawn, and, for the most part, it’s Pitch Black. And there’s no Riddick to save them.

Conclusion

OK, so why do I think this could be a masterstroke in storytelling? The film felt very disjointed, and I felt uneasy throughout.

And I can’t figure out if it’s meant to feel that way.

Family

Hear me out. The whole point of Fast and Furious is FAMILY. The villain makes it his mission to break up that family, so much so that the Toretto clan is split up and is never together outside of the first fifteen minutes. Letty is segregated; Roman, Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) are on the run; Dom is making big plays on his own; and Jacob and Little Brian (Dom’s son) search for safety. They are separated, and they don’t know what to do.

It mirrors how I was feeling throughout. The team wasn’t together, it felt like four movies in one, and it didn’t end satisfactorily. The film just didn’t feel right. It’s either masterful or a happy accident.

I don’t know which. But I want to see how it ends.

What do you think?

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