Though Jason Momoa makes for an excellent villain, this latest chapter winds up as mostly empty and unsatisfying bombast
Taking on a project as mammoth as the 10th entry into the Fast franchise would be a daunting challenge at the best of times for any director, but to tackle it after it’s already started shooting and with less than a week’s prep sounds like pure madness. Yet, that’s exactly what Louis Leterrier had to do with Fast X as a later-than-last-minute replacement for Justin Lin. It’s a task that seems insurmountable on paper, and so it largely proves in practice, making for a loud and exhausting epic, a film that never takes no for an answer and is all the less engaging for it.
Continuing the recent franchise trend of reaching backwards into its own lore to tell its new stories, this new instalment focuses on Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his now-colossal family paying for past sins, in this case the bank vault heist from 2011’s Fast Five, itself really the Rubicon moment where this series went from street racing to superheroics. See, it turns out the Brazilian mob boss they killed there had a son, the psychopathic Dante (Jason Momoa), and now it’s his turn to exact a multi-continent revenge on Toretto and co (even the ones that hadn’t yet been recruited to the gang at that point).
Momoa is easily the best part of Fast X, having an absolute blast at playing the most flamboyant and unpredictable villain that this series has ever conjured up. With his Jack Sparrow-esque mannerisms, long hair, and occasionally effeminate line delivery, he’s the perfect foil to the gruff, earnest, and often bald heroes all while presenting a genuinely credible threat. These are probably the highest stakes the Fast Family has ever faced and without Momoa at the centre of the danger, it’s likely the film would fall apart entirely.
Whenever he’s not directly on screen, things start falling apart, the time we spend with the other roughly 4,000 characters feeling cursory at best. Barely a scene goes by without an explosion or an overlong punch-up and by the time the mega set-pieces of the third act roll around, it’s really a case of diminishing returns. There’s still some fun to be had with the contemptuous-of-physics action, but most of the more effects-heavy stuff just feels completely weightless, completely paling in comparison to best blockbusters of the past 12 months. The most thrilling action scene is, almost inevitably, the simplest, with the obligatory street race, this time in Rio de Janeiro, genuinely getting the blood pumping before it’s cut irritatingly short by the demands of the plot.
As written by Lin and Dan Mazeau, this plot is mostly nonsense, further hampered by both a tone that is neither silly nor serious enough (even the reliable frenemy dynamic of Tyrese Gibson’s Roman and Ludacris’s Tej feels muted) and the film’s status as the first stage of a two-or-three part finale. The final act is just ludicrous cliffhanger after ludicrous cliffhanger with no room to really emotionally invest in the outcome of any of them. The answers to the raised questions are meant to be coming at some point in 2025 but, on this evidence? I can wait.
Fast X is released in UK cinemas on 19 May.Where to watch