Fast X Review: Jason Momoa Makes An effort, But Series Is Out Of Steam
Be aware that Fast X is the first in a planned trilogy of films that will wrap up the Fast and Furious series before you start watching. There is so much crammed into the over two-hour runtime that it lacks a tidy bow to tie everything up at the end, so that needs to be stated upfront. With the end in sight, Vin Diesel has added a new wrinkle to his role as Dominic Toretto, focusing even more on what matters to him most in life: his family. This new movie is all about legacy.
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Little Brian, who is approaching his tenth birthday and is learning to drive with the help of his mother, Rio De Janeiro police officer Elena (Elsa Pataky), carries on Dom’s legacy, and young actor Leo Abelo Perry brilliantly complements the adult cast. Jason Momoa’s character Dante, a son who lost his father and everything he was meant to have, is introduced in Fast X but added via flashback into the events of Fast Five. He was inspired to play this character after watching Heath Ledger’s Joker performance in The Dark Knight five times in a row while guzzling Red Bull. Fans are accustomed to a world-hopping, paper-thin plot with lots of car stunts, but Momoa’s outrageous performance as Dante propels the whole thing to its climax.
Jason Momoa’s Fast X performance is difficult to explain because so much of it can be seen in his outrageous attire, odd mannerisms, and bizarre movements at a time when the typical alpha male villains of the past have outperformed every on-screen emotion besides “flex and grimace.” When Dante needs to be introduced as the most dangerous villain yet, he does it in classic superhero style by eliminating Cypher (Charlize Theron), making yet another former foe into an ally as the franchise trope continues for another movie. Even in a bizarre side-scene involving corpses, Dante is fascinating to watch due to the constant sense of pure chaos that permeates the screen whenever he is present.
Apart from Dante and Dom, no one else in the movie seems to matter, which is a problem given the size of the cast listed on IMDb. Brie Larson is making her acting debut as Tess, the daughter of Mr. Nobody. She is introduced with the most awkward dialogue since The Last Jedi and then thrust into a scene with the new head of the Agency, Aimes, who is portrayed by Alan Ritchwood of the TV show Reacher, and his enormous biceps. That’s because she’s unimportant, and even that elevates her above the rest of Dom’s family as Fast X struggles to handle the strain of the large cast and largely ignores everyone else outside of the Rome heist.
Han (Sung Kang) is just along for the ride as Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) argue and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmuanel) attempts to mediate the conflict. Fast X’s scenes with the group, including their arguments over money and a shopping trip that only exists to give Pete Davidson some screen time, could all be cut with no adverse effects. Even the reunion of Han and Shaw (Jason Statham), which was hinted at after the previous movie, is anticlimactic and has no payoff, possibly because Statham was only present for a single day of filming for a subpar cameo.
Fast X makes the audience care about Little Brian despite the absence of the majority of the cast by having him spend the entire movie traveling with his uncle Jakob (John Cena). The antagonist from the previous movie, Cena, is in full-on Peacemaker comedy mode, carefully teaching his nephew when to curse and making the most of every moment on screen. When the movie hits its mark, it hits; more wealth distribution and car stunts, however, would make the picture even better.
The most outrageous villain in the post-Fast Five films somehow leads to their least exciting and formulaic climax. Worst of all, the conclusion will infuriate viewers to no end; consider watching Avengers: Infinity War and not realizing it was only “Part 1,” Even if there is a significant return before the credits and another in the post-credits, no one will be able to hide their rage at the unsatisfying ending scene. Fast X is a clear setup for the subsequent movie, but unlike when Marvel pulled a similar stunt, fans will have to wait nearly two years for any sort of resolution.
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Fast X is currently widely regarded as the lowest point in the franchise. It’s only a small portion of the story, and on its own, it falls short of even the weakest of the previous films. In addition, the Tej-Roman pairing in particular fails to deliver any memorable lines this time around and comes off as more drained. The franchise about automobile-based super spies is holding together by a tenuous thread ten years after its revival, but the foundation is beginning to show cracks, and it runs the very real risk of making fans thankful for the end of the road.