Fast X (2023): Xtremely Atrocious
“Fast X” is “directed” by Louis Leterrier. It was originally supposed to be helmed by Justin Lin, who has done a few of the franchise’s installments, including the recent “F9.” However, due to drama with star Vin Diesel (xXx, Guardians of the Galaxy), he left the directorial position. So that’s fun… Although he does have a screenplay credit. Speaking of Vin Diesel, joining him is a cast including Michelle Rodriguez (Dunegons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Widows), Tyrese Gibson (Morbius, Black and Blue), Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (Karma’s World, Crash), John Cena (Peacemaker, Blockers), Nathalie Emmanuel (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Game of Thrones), Jordana Brewster (Dallas, Lethal Weapon), Sung Kang (Power, Obi-Wan Kenobi), Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, The Longest Ride), Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), Alan Ritchson (Reacher, Titans), Helen Mirren (Skyfall, The Queen), Brie Larson (Captain Marvel, Room), Rita Moreno (West Side Story, 80 for Brady), Jason Statham (Crank, The Transporter), Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Slumberland), and Charlize Theron (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Bombshell). This series of moving images that technically qualifies as a blockbuster film once again centers around Dom Toretto and his “family” as they must stop Dante Reyes from ending their lives.
We did it folks! We have reached TEN of these films now. ELEVEN if you count that one “Hobbs & Shaw” spinoff that was quite entertaining. …Yay? To be honest, I could not have been less stoked about “Fast X.” I have seen plenty of bad movies, including some to major franchises like “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Transformers.” Few movies like “F9: The Fast Saga” have reeked of such an abominable aftertaste. Why did it not work? Because it treated me like an idiot.
The “Fast and Furious” franchise has evolved to such idiocy over the years. It has gone from being “Point Break” with street racing to taking on a shark-jumping identity that only gets bigger, not to mention dumber, with each installment. From “Fast & Furious,” the fourth movie, to “Furious 7,” everything that resembled such shark-jumping never took me out. “The Fate of the Furious” and “Hobbs & Shaw” came close, but I still enjoyed the movies for what they were. “F9: The Fast Saga” feels like a lowest common denominator tentpole. Between John Cena’s stiff acting, Dom Toretto’s lack of charisma, and the forced space scene had me chuckling at it for the wrong reason, I cannot see myself watching “F9: The Fast Saga” ever again.
But I am one who believes in second chances. Therefore, for that reason, in addition to the fact that I feel somewhat obligated to put out a review, I decided to check out “Fast X” on opening night a couple weeks ago. The trailers honestly did nothing to excite me. In fact, I felt like was spoiling the movie for myself through whatever the heck the marketing campaign was. But I tried to act mature and let the movie speak for itself.
Safe to say, there were enjoyable moments. Maybe, one, two, or three. Because there are many others that I would rather forget.
This is, unfortunately, just about as bad as “F9.” I left “F9” feeling appalled as to how this franchise got to where it was, but I thought it had a couple cool ideas. I left “Fast X” feeling like I got punched in the brain. By the end of the film, I had perhaps the quickest 180 degrees shift I have ever experienced as a movie watcher. I went from liking where things were going, to wanting to scream like an unsatisfied customer at Disney World. Because there are times where the film has inklings of fun in it. But they are never enough to justify me paying money to watch the movie in the first place, and even in a couple more entertaining moments, they include some of the dumbest ideas and realizations ever brought to the big screen. I think I figured out what the X in “Fast X” stands for. No, it does not mean the number ten. It stands for Xcrement.
There is so much nonsense that happens in “Fast X” that I need to split this review into two or three parts to definitively explain all of what I need to say. I am not going to, however, because I would be a jerk. So, let us widdle down some things.
For starters, I am convinced that “Fast X” does not know how cameras work. Not that the film is poorly shot, it is in a word, fine. That said, there is a scene at the beginning of the movie that serves as a reminder of who the Toretto family happens to be. Not only is this as expositional as can be with a couple core characters standing in a large room doing nothing, but the footage used to talk about the Toretto family, are movie shots. Not security camera footage, not raw video that could have been uploaded to social media, but carefully crafted shots that are used in past films. It reminds me of “Batman & Robin” where a particular shot of Poison Ivy is reused for plot purposes, but that shot came from the camera shooting the movie with no inserted gimmicks, tricks, or added context. So either the “Fast & Furious” franchise is secretly one of the world’s most ambitious documentaries or this scene is as lazily set up as public transit in almost every corner of the U.S.. It does not take long for me to be taken out of the film, which is unfortunate because the film does try to give some stakes in certain situations. But even when that happens, it is difficult for me to appreciate it because I am not convinced anything in this movie will matter.
This movie has a ton of characters. But size does not matter, it is what you do with it. Not much is done with it to be frank, because there is almost no charisma from any of the characters! This includes the lead!
Domenic Toretto is arguably the most overpowered, unlikably boring protagonist who continues to maintain some semblance of relevance in our cultural zeitgeist. I remember when these movies made the heroes feel superhuman, but they continued to have some degree of verisimilitude to their actions. Dom is God at this point. Vin Diesel may have chosen to be Superman in “The Iron Giant,” but as far as I am concerned, if Dom Toretto were forced to fight Superman, Toretto has a chance of clobbering him at this point. Other protagonists, even in movies I do not enjoy, will have me guessing if they are going to make it out of a sticky situation. If anything, Toretto practically is the sticky situation in every scene. He is not the villain, but he is a man without weakness. And while anything’s possible, this franchise proves it, I would rather see characters who have to deal with their troubles because the reality is that nobody’s perfect. Sure, there are some added stakes in this film with Dom having a kid, and Jason Momoa plays a compelling antagonist. But those two things are not enough to make a good movie. This is where the “Mission: Impossible” franchise often succeeds where “Fast & Furious” does not. Because while the movies are fictional spy adventures, they have fewer fantastical elements and more interesting characters that keep me engaged in the picture.
In fact, going back to Dom’s kid, Brian, he is nicely portrayed by Leo Abelo Perry. I am not convinced that he looks like the offspring Dom and Letty would have, but nevertheless. He is good in the film. What is not good in the film, is Dom’s parenting skills. I know this film defies logic, physics, and science, but is it the dumbest time for me to ask why the heck Brian is able to drive at eight years old? I mean, he can… But, are there like, laws… Against that? Ah, who am I kidding? The only law this movie knows is Murphy’s Law.
Although there is one good cameo in the middle of this film. I will not say who the individual of interest is, because I had no idea they were in the film going into it. But they are seen while the film is set in London. Additionally, this individual has some of the funniest lines in the film by a long shot.
Also, if any characters were improved, it would have to be John Cena’s Jakob. Unlike the last movie, he is actually charming, more than just a buff body, and kind of funny. One of Cena’s strengths as an actor is comedy. Since his last outing in the “Fast” universe, he has definitely improved himself as a performer, and I think the writers have similarly improved on his character and relied on some of what made John Cena’s performance in “The Suicide Squad” pop. The character himself is a bit of a diversion from what we have seen in “F9,” but it does not change the fact that Cena’s continued commitment to his craft is shown here.
I am going to do my best to talk about the end of this movie without giving a ton away. Inside I am vomiting just thinking about it. There is, an absurd, albeit the tiniest bit engaging moment where Dom flees from a couple oil trucks. Okay… At least no one is in space. Then we get an out of nowhere cliffhanger. While somewhat abrupt, that moment gave me hope. I thought the movie for the most part was mediocre at best, but that scene nearly redeemed everything else because it hinted that there could be at least one ounce of stakes in this universe. THEN we get to the ACTUAL ending. Where we find a couple other characters witnessing something, then another something happens. Once the other something happens, I think I witnessed an achievement in storytelling that could only be awarded with a Razzie. I said “F9” gave “Sharknado” ideas. That honestly feels like the tip of the iceberg at this point for how ridiculous things get in this franchise. What happened?!
One of the common things I hear about another popular series of films, specifically the MCU, is that those movies are more like theme parks than actual films. There are a few theme park-like elements in the MCU, but they are just a small part of what makes the films themselves exciting. They are still entertaining stories with likable characters. That said, if Martin Scorsese watches “Fast X” and walks out thinking that it is less theme park-esque than anything in the MCU, then he may as well be entitled to his wrong opinion. I would rather watch “Iron Man 2.” I’d rather watch “Black Widow.” Dude, I would rather watch “Thor: The Dark World” instead of not just “Fast X,” but both of this franchise’s most recent outings! How bad do you have to be to compared to a franchise of 32 movies, and I would watch all of those instead of these last two duds?! This movie has thrills, but little character growth. This movie has style, but no substance. This movie has action, but no stakes. And what we get is one of the worst movies of the year, not to mention one of the worst cinematic efforts of the decade.
When I walked out of “F9,” I lost any excitement I had for “Fast X,” and the trailers lowered it even more. As for “Fast X,” I think the most positive thing I can say about this movie is that people got paid to make it. Just because you have all these big stars including Vin Diesel, Brie Larson, Charlize Theron, and Jason Momoa, does not mean the film can get away without delivering a good script to back them up. After the first act, everything in this film feels as haphazard as a carnival ride. Whereas MCU movies are debatably theme park rides instead of cinema, “Fast X” feels more like a carnival ride that was shipped in and set up at the last minute. It is wobbly, squeaky, and its roughness cannot match its acceptable appearance. The film looks okay. The cinematography is pedestrian, although the editing is a bit over the top. Maybe too much for its own good. There is no way I can convince myself that “Fast X” adds anything fresh or exciting to this franchise. Its old tricks, despite their remixes, are honestly tired at this point.
In fact, speaking of old tricks, if I have to be honest and state what I think could be the most enjoyable moments of the film, they may be the ones from the beginning. While that may seem vague, let me remind you that much of that is really just a flashback to “Fast Five.” Do not get me wrong, I like “Fast Five.” But after watching “Fast X,” I was not convinced that I should watch it again. Instead, I thought I would rather watch “Fast Five” again. While some may take this as a compliment regarding the franchise’s longevity, if the franchise wants to save itself in the future, it might as well craft something good to release in the present, and maybe not indulge a whole ton in its past.
Movie franchises are only as good as their last project. Granted, money also talks. “Fast & Furious” makes money. But sometimes the two go hand in hand. Look at “The Divergent Series.” The third movie comes out to less than stellar reviews, the box office is equally unsatisfying, and not only was it announced that the fourth film would go straight to television, the film never saw the light of day following said announcement. Or for a more recent example, Look at “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” The movie ended up receiving some of the worst verdicts in the MCU and ended up having significant drops during following weekends at the box office. Sure, the movie made quite a bit of money, but by current MCU standards and with the diminishing of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is below what it could have made.
Going back to “Fast Five,” this movie utilizes that predecessor to tell a story of its own. Because the villain, Dante, is the son of Hernan Reyes, the antagonist of “Fast Five.” If I have to give this movie one compliment, its villain is one of the more redeemable elements of the experience. I am not going to pretend that it saves the film from being a disaster, but Jason Momoa steals every scene he is in. Every one of his mannerisms reminded me of a more adult version of Jim Carrey’s Doctor Robotnik from the “Sonic” movies. In fact, I am not surprised Momoa pulls off his performance. Having seen one of his most recent projects, “Slumberland,” he has a bit of a fun side to him that I have not uncovered through his time as say “Aquaman.” Not to diss on his performance as Aquaman, but “Slumberland,” despite its flaws, showed perhaps a likably cartoony side to him. At times, this film feels like a cartoon that tries to ground itself too much. Jason Momoa feels like the one performer who showed up to do a different project than those around him. Everyone showed up to be an action star while he showed up to be a goofball with guns and an endless motive to kill. I do not recommend going to see “Fast X,” but if there is any reason I would argue you should, Jason Momoa is the first idea that comes to mind.
There is nothing wrong with a franchise evolving from its roots. But “Fast & Furious” shows what happens when evolution goes too far. Adding a little ridiculousness is fine. In fact, it is actually kind of cool. Although what does not work is seeing that ridiculousness turn into chaos. Sure, this movie harkens back to the street racing element that was utilized in prior installments. But it is overshadowed by the many negatives that result from the franchise’s evolution. I do not have as much emotional attachment for these characters as I once did, because I am convinced that they are going to make it out of any situation they find themselves in. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing multiple times and expecting different results. “Fast X” defies reality just as much, if not more, than “F9.” Therefore, this franchise fits the bill to where it could be called insane. It is just about as insane as I would be if I ever watch this movie again.
In the end, “Fast X” somehow managed to go below my already miniscule expectations. A bad “Fast & Furious” movie is one thing, but two in a row destroys my faith in the future of this franchise. I have a feeling this movie was designed with an ending to get me to ask “Where are they going with this?”. Only thing is I saw that ending and thought, there is almost no possible scenario where I tune into the next movie and it compels me from the first scene. I have seen some solid cliffhangers over the years in film. I have seen them in movies like “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Back to the Future Part II,” “Inception,” and the “Incredibles” installments. These are endings that either give me solid questions, make me beg for solid answers, or sometimes both. For “Inception,” it leaves my mind to wonder what could be happening. These are solid endings that build extended promise. “Fast X” might be promising something, but I can only assume it will be empty. But before that ending happens, things are not too great either. Between all the nonsense, the boring characters, and lackluster dialogue, this is easily one of the worst movies of the year. I am going to give “Fast X” a 2/10.
“Fast X” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.
Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I am going to have reviews for films like “The Blackening,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” and “Hypnotic.” Stay tuned! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Fast X?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the most abysmal, rotten, downright awful travesty of a blockbuster film you have seen in recent years? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!