FAST X Review

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I honestly thought that anything the Fast and Furious films could deliver would surprise me.

I was so wrong!

Of course, I expected the usual: car chases, impossible stunts, everybody in the world wanting to kill Vin Diesel’s character Dom, and the whole family thing. Those things are all there, but there’s so much more that’s unexpected. A few of the plot twists caused me to say “Oh!” out loud, and I wasn’t the only one!

The narrative is set up with a flashback to Fast Five in Rio de Janeiro. Dom and Brian (the late Paul Walker) steal an enormous safe from a secure building that leaves bad man Hernan Reyes and his son Dante broke and with revenge on their minds. The present day team will face the son. Jason Momoa, playing against type, makes Dante Reyes an entertaining, but terrifying, sociopath. Dante is an androgynous sort who favors pastels, perfectly coordinated, painted toenails and fingernails, and strutting around like a peacock – all of which mask his thirst for extremely violent vengeance and his sadism. Kudos to Momoa for creating Dante after saying, in interviews, that he wanted to play against type, in his words “a less macho type”.

Afterward, as Fast X begins, Dom and Letty (Michele Rodriguez) are at home with their son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry). Roman (Tyrese Gibson) has accepted a job for the team in Rome. Tej (Ludacris) balks a bit but can’t resist the opportunity to make a lot of money. Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) is along for cyber skill needs. Things will not go well.

Dom learns of Dante during an unexpected, and unwanted, visit from cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron). The result is an unplanned trip to Rio to confront and stop Dante. Dante, however, always seems to be a step ahead of Dom, who will soon learn that nothing Dante says can be trusted. Again, things will not go well. Then, in addition to everything else, Dom finds out he’s being pursued by The Agency – specifically by its interim leader, Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), and his team.

With their “project” in shambles in Rome, Roman, Tej, and Ramsey escape to London. With financial assets non-existent, they hope to re-equip themselves and rejoin Dom in a safe house in Portugal. In London, they happen upon Queenie (Helen Mirren). She tells them they’re in deep trouble and suggests they find transportation quickly. They end up reconnecting with Deckard Shaw (Jason Stratham), a sometimes ally, who helps them with some radical wheels. They leave to “bust out” of England and proceed to Portugal.

Learning that Dom is in trouble, Letty leaves for Europe immediately. She finds herself in very hot water and is aided by none other than Mr. Nobody’s daughter, Tess (Brie Larson). While trying to escape, Letty comes across Cipher and they proceed to have the absolute best fight in the film. Awesome!

Everybody is trying to get to the same place, but you know it’s not going to be that easy. You’ll have to see the film to find out what happens, but just let me say that Dante’s goal is to make his victims suffer — a lot — before they die. There are also betrayals and traitors.

The real stars of Fast X are the stunt coordinators and the fight scene choreographers. The action is non-stop and full of suspense, near misses, and breathtaking danger. Leterrier knows his audience. The film manages to be both entertaining and agonizingly intense. I guarantee the ending will not be what you expect. There’s a mid-credit scene you’ll want to see, which isn’t really that much help in understanding what’s to come, but it’s revealing as far as characters go.

Fast X is a crowd-pleaser. The preview audience broke into spontaneous applause several times. As far as this genre goes, the film is about as good as it gets. One thing it doesn’t suffer from is predictability! If you’re a fan of the franchise, it’s a must-see. – JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: A-