Against All Odds and My Better Judgment, I Had a Pretty Good Time At ‘Fast X’

Universal Pictures

Well, well, well. Look what didn’t end up being the massive pile of crap I was expecting! Fast X is the second film in the Fast and the Furious franchise I’ve seen, after 2021’s F9 where I deemed this series too stupid for its own good and not for me. Check out my review of F9 here for a very lengthy description of why I did not like it. I went today to see Fast X, despite not intending to at the beginning of the day, at the insistence of a friend who wanted to go in the interest of killing a few hours in an air-conditioned recliner seat, and surprisingly enough, Fast X is a moderate/medium good time.

Again, there are too many characters here and too many of them from previous movies that I haven’t seen. So many that it would probably take me until this film is on DVD to write out a synopsis. There are MacGuffins, and explosions and children and beloved characters in peril. There is recontextualization of events that took place in movies I did not see. I still barely know who anybody is, or why they matter to this franchise. So, I’m once again just going to copy and paste the plot synopsis provided by our good friends at Universal Pictures.

Universal Pictures

Over many missions and against impossible odds, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family have outsmarted, out-nerved and outdriven every foe in their path. Now, they confront the most lethal opponent they’ve ever faced: A terrifying threat emerging from the shadows of the past who’s fueled by blood revenge, and who is determined to shatter this family and destroy everything–and everyone–that Dom loves, forever.

I still don’t think the Fast and Furious movies are for me. There’s a lot of fan service here that I simply did not pick up on. References that didn’t mean a damn thing to me. And the Fast and Furious films are still hopelessly, remarkably stupid (bold print, italicized, underlined STOOPID, you might say) but certain things are happening here that are not happening in F9. People seem to be having fun. The absolutely insanely inflated budget seems like it’s actually going towards what you’re seeing on the screen. And there’s a zippy, breezy tone that makes you feel like you’re not watching a two and a half hour slog, even though it’s arguable you still are. Bonus points: you see the 143 minute runtime and about 15 minutes of it is credits. So you get to leave just over the two hour mark. Of course stay seated until the mid-credits scene is over. You’ll want to see that.

Universal Pictures

With the addition of Jason Momoa’s flamboyant, mustache twirling, very queer coded villain, it felt like someone was actually having a good time here. He seems to be in an entirely different movie, and yet it’s the kind of thing you want more and more of. He’s so funny and he’s adding a levity desperately needed here. We add another Oscar winner, Brie Larson, who despite her continually receiving online hate by internet fanboys for being a woman who has the nerve to comment on issues of the day, seems to really enjoy being in movies like this and she’s always fun to watch. And the great Rita Moreno appears in one scene early on, as Dom’s grandmother and it’s always nice to see her. I was hoping they would get 91-year-old Moreno involved in some kind of high-speed car chase scene or some ass-kickin’ action, but you can’t get everything you want in life.

Despite me still not really enjoying Vin Diesel as an actor, I understood in a better way this time why this character has endured so much in pop culture over the years. He’s really just a bland meathead action hero, but the scenes where the mood calms down for a minute and he has a quiet moment with his wife or his young son, or Rita Moreno, you begin to appreciate the slightly more subtle edges to this character. He’s really just a nice person who takes care of his people, and even I can’t find anything wrong with that. And even though, it all being about FAMILY! is a trite and hokey concept, the concept of the chosen family has been near and dear to my heart ever since I was a child watching TV Land reruns of The Golden Girls. Maybe the connection between everyone is just better established here than it was previously. It’s hard to say, but this worked for me.

Universal Pictures

Even the million side plots – you seem to know who everyone is and how they fit into the story, and it’s all done pretty seamlessly. Despite not enjoying him in the last movie, this time I enjoyed the side plot with John Cena and Dom’s son. I enjoyed the side plot involving Michelle Rodriguez and Charlize Theron (who has better hair this time, thank god) and her whole slightly reformed villain thing.

In the end, this Fast X felt more accessible for someone whose opinion of this franchise has previously wavered from “don’t care” to “ugh, they’re still making those?!” Would I see another one? Well, I think I have to, this ends with a pretty gnarly cliffhanger. Would I go back and watch one through eight? Odds are slim to none. Would I recommend this to someone who is generally annoyed by big budget vroom and boom action movies, but enjoys a good summer blockbuster? Probably. Like I said, this is a mild-to-moderate good time.

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