Fast X review: The 10th commandment of absurdity

Cameron Frew
Jason Momoa in Fast X

Fast X won’t welcome any new apostles to the familia’s way of cinema; this is a hysterical, NOS-fuelled ode to big-screen ridiculousness that’s beyond parody.

Yes, The Fast and the Furious was a Point Break ripoff. But it was also a stylish, sexy, amped-up caper that was, rightly, viewed as fertile ground for a street-racing action series. The stakes were modest, but they felt massive – love, liberty, and family, all laid on the line of a quarter-mile.

It took 10 years of forget-about-it-cuh’ing, continent-hopping, and reshaping before the franchise truly found its feet in Fast Five, a guns-blazing heist flick that struck a particularly potent blend of vehicular mayhem, humour, and serial potential: the world was dying for more missions with Dom Toretto and co., and they’ve always delivered.

Now we’ve arrived at the (ante)penultimate chapter, and raising one’s tongue against Vin Diesel and his furious team feels totally pointless – for all its flaws, there’s a sincerity and well-intentioned sense of fun to his “mythology” that remains rather endearing. We’re still laughing with it, not at it.

This review is spoiler-free, don’t fret.

The sins of the past haunt Fast X

In Fast Five, we watched Dom and Brian drag a huge safe through half of Rio de Janeiro, before crumpling its owner, drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), in his car. They jetted off to start a new life – but his son, Dante (Jason Momoa), was left with nothing but a psychotic attitude and an axe to grind. “Never accept death when suffering is owed,” he repeatedly vows, a tenet taken from his dead daddy.

A decade later – don’t think about why it’s taken this long – the last person you’d expect to turn up at 1327 arrives dripping with blood: Cipher (Charlize Theron). “I met the devil tonight,” she says. “The enemy of my enemy… is you.” Cue a worldwide game of cat and mouse, from a wrecking ball bomb tearing up the streets of Rome to the black market lanes of London, with a few returning faces along the way (no spoilers here), along with some new ones.

The usual team are out doing their thing, but don’t expect much from them this time: Tyrese Gibson is on trademark form, but the gags rarely result in more than a sharp nasal exhale; Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel are a likable tech duo, but you could take stock of their character development in less than two seconds.

We wanted justice for Han, but for this? Sung Kang is fine here, but the script gives him almost nothing to do but swipe on Tinder and face off with his reaper again: Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, who’s a complete scene-stealer among A-to-B characters (unsurprising, given director Louis Leterrier’s past work with him in The Transporter).

Even Vin Diesel, for all that he tries in scenes with “little B”, can’t sustain the self-serious machismo that’s turned him into a blockbuster icon – sadly, the movie grinds to a halt whenever it focuses on him and his pouting, patriarch bravado. Michelle Rodriguez is innocent in all this: she’s a radiant badass, especially when she’s sparring with Theron’s Cipher, a tech villain who yada-yadas and ‘engineers’ her way out of any scrape – she would be nothing without the Oscar winner’s talent.

Jason Momoa and Alan Ritchson are standouts

The debuting and smaller characters shine the brightest: it’d be disingenuous to call Momoa a revelation – I’m pretty sure we all felt the serotonin from the “ma boy!” hugs in Dune – but he is operating on a different plane from everyone else. He chews up every line with maniacal glee; give me another actor who can pull off intimidating fart noises, peekaboos, and having a jaunty chat with two tape-mangled, toe-painted corpses (one of the film’s grimmest images). In some ways, he’s the Joker to Dom’s Batman; he sees pain as a game and family as a cursed prospect. “You want to control the world… I just want to punish it,” he says.

Elsewhere, John Cena lights up the screen with his emotive, affable energy – I let out a soft “woo” at his entrance – while Brie Larson, playing Mr Nobody’s daughter Tess, proves to be a perfect replacement for Kurt Russell, aka the most charismatic actor on the planet. One actor brings serious heat: Alan Ritchson of Reacher fame, a real-life, bicep-bursting action man who’d walk away with the movie if it weren’t for Momoa.

Alan Ritchson and Brie Larson in Fast X

The sound mixing doesn’t do Brian Tyler’s score any favors (his theme is still a head-nodder), but the reggaeton vibe continues into the 10th entry’s soundtrack, plus the tear-jerking use of ‘See You Again’ as a motif for remembering Paul Walker’s Brian. As for how it looks, well, sorry Stephen F. Windon, but any visual flair is smothered by ugly CGI – there’s plenty of bombast, and excluding the obvious practical effects, none of it is particularly convincing.

Leterrier seems like a good fit for the Fast family: The Transporter (particularly its sequel) is packed with hooting-and-hollering sequences on and off the streets; Unleashed features crunching, nasty martial arts action; and Now You See Me, while completely daft, aligns with the spirit of the franchise post-Five. It’s a convincing entry into the series, but the action needs some serious work; he’s at home in contained, small spaces (Letty pushing a man’s face against a plummeting wall was worthy of whitened knuckles), but the louder spectacle is more funny than thrilling. Cars don’t bump and bounce as they would, and there’s some Driver-level pedestrian survival on the streets these days.

On this occasion, the buck stops with the script. There are some phenomenal lines – “If it violates the laws of god and gravity, they did it twice,” Ritchson says – and its pace never dips, but it doesn’t feel quite as nourishing as its predecessors. But, even then, it’s the theatrical equivalent of a Saturday morning cartoon – as long as we enjoy their company, little else actually matters.

Fast X review score: 3/5

Fast and Furious 10 is a low-tier entry, but when it’s this knowingly preposterous and corny, it’s impossible to hate. Winning’s winning, and the Fast Saga no longer knows how to lose.

Fast X is in cinemas now, and you can check out the rest of our Fast and Furious 10 coverage below:

Post-credits scenes | Ending explained | Who dies? | Is Fast X streaming? | Will there be a Fast & Furious 11? | Fast X cast and characters | Fast X soundtrack | How long is Fast X runtime? | Fast X budget | Is Paul Walker in Fast X? | Meadow Walker cameo | Does Gad Gadot return? | Who does Pete Davidson play? | Is Mr Nobody in Fast X? | Is Leon in Fast & Furious 10? | Is The Rock in Fast X? | Will there be a Hobbs & Shaw 2? | Who does Alan Ritchson play? | How to watch Fast and Furious movies in order

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