Film Notes

Film review – Fast X

My notes on Fast X

Tenth films in series are entitled to be a bit self-congratulatory and bring-back-the-old-gang-in-cameos-heavy, but the FF franchise went that route around the third instalment when Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto turned out not to be dead after all and has been pressing those fan-service buttons more often than Dom reaches for the spigot of his canister of Nox.  The ups and downs of the series have been well-charted – and each new trip back to the well involves more retcons, stunt castings (Brie Larsen joins up this time round), not-really-unexpected reappearances, deaths we don’t believe for a moment, alliances, betrayals and bigger-than-before stunts and explosions plus callbacks to previous big stunts and explosions.  Here, the new villain (Jason Momoa having a great time being a flash git) even admits one bomb threat – a nuke rolling like a wrecking ball through swathes of Rome towards the Vatican – is a homage to the bank-vault-on-a-chain-in-Rio scene from Fast 5 revisited in the pre-credits to establish that the new evil Reyes is the son of the still dead baddie (Joaquim de Almeida) from that film.

It lasts nearly two and a half hours and has about eighteen principle characters, who get split up into teams, twosomes and solo acts for a long stretch then are mostly brought together at a dam in Portugal for a cliff-hanger (Fast X Part Two will be along in due course).  Louis Leterrier, who gets to total bits of Brazil left standing in his little-loved MCU entry The Incredible Hulk, is a J. Lee Thompson, Michael Anderson or John Guillermin for the 2020s … no evident personality but professional, seemingly uncaring when whole scenes consist of self-congratulatory tosh delivered by dead-eyed actors who deserve better (Diesel is in particular in zombie mode) and that the ridiculousness-as-entertainment factor peaked about three or four entries back (the Justin Lin era of fastly furiousness) which leaves only self-contained set-pieces of varying amazingness (the influence of that motorway chase pile-up from one of the Matrix sequels seems evident).  It’s impossible not to respond to some of the big whooshes, though CGI-assist weightlessness adds to a kind of monotony which is at odds with the mission statement of any action film – to be exciting.  Compare the drive down the Spanish steps here with the fight up the Paris steps in John Wick 4 – and you see how little the FF films are getting for their many dollars where other action pictures are going with old-school stuntwork and paying off.

Some regulars (Tyrese and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, who must have been pitching a Roman & Tej spinoff to deaf suits for years) remain grateful for the ticket and keep plugging away, while you have to wonder what contractual quirk/trucksful of cash keep Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Jason Statham and Charlize Theron clocking on – and can haul back [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] for at least preview-of-part-two smile-and-a-wave bits – and admit that at least Jordana Brewster (the most consistently underrated player in the series) and Michelle Rodriguez get to maintain a presence in huge movies on the strength of decreasingly rewarding gigs.  John Cena is back, but Alan Ritchson is in as a substitute-in-waiting – until a twist that takes advantage of what’s become a FF recurring quirk (though it reminded me of an aspect of Thunderball that did a very similar thing).  Daniela Melchior, who stole scenes in The Suicide Squad, pops up as the sister of a murdered woman I barely remember – and takes part in the obligatory remember-what-the-series-started-out-with? street racing scene.  Rita Moreno shows up as a Toretto matriarch at one of those barbeques, which evil Reyes makes a point of sneering at – and Leo Abelo Perry wins the Jaden Smith Memorial Award as kid you’re supposed not to want to see murdered who is nevertheless pretty much a pain to be around for the whole running time.

So, we’re twenty-two years into this series – which puts it on a level with or just beyond Octopussy, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Star Trek Nemesis, Tarzan and the She-Devil or Carry On Emmannuelle or Charlie Chan in Sky Dragon (hands up if any of these are your favourites in their series).


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