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Review: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Unhinged in 'Fast X'

"Everybody becomes family. It's like a cult with cars."

I'm never going to apologize when a movie makes me smile from start to finish. Even the most ludicrous (pun intended) of premises, mixed with stunt casting, is worthy of praise. For a franchise like that of "Fast & Furious" to keep reinventing the same tired concepts and making them feel fresh is a feat. The tenth installment, "Fast X" gives the series of films a much needed boost, thanks in large part to nostalgia combined with Jason Momoa.

"Fast X" opens with an unlikely introduction: The climax of "Fast Five" in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, where our fateful heroes Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) see the end of drug lord Hernan Reyes during an action-packed chase scene that leaves Reyes dead. Unfortunately for the franchise heroes, they made a new enemy in Reyes' son Dante (Jason Momoa) who witnesses his father's demise and vows to make Dom pay for his actions.

Cut to ten years later, and Dom receives a visit from a sworn enemy, Cipher (Charlize Theron), who informs him that a war is coming and its leader is Dante Reyes seeking revenge on Dom's family of misfits. In a series of unfortunate events, Dom's crew is split up for most of the film, and it's a race against time to save every one of them before Dante has his way. The Agency that Dom has devoted most of his days to has also been compromised, throwing a wrench into an already complicated scenario.

But Dante's mission isn't apparent until halfway through "Fast X," when he makes it evident to Dom that his target is Dom's 8 year old son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry). To protect his son from Dante and the Agency, Dom calls in a favor to his brother Jakob (John Cena), who takes young Brian on a roadtrip to outrun the assassins hot on their trail. Meanwhile, Dom and his crew are scattered throughout the globe, traversing the catacombs of Rome, street racing in Brazil, and some find themselves in precarious situations in London, Portugal, and even Antarctica. New allies form, and several old enemies resurface in surprising ways.

"Fast X," like so many of the movies in this tongue-in-cheek franchise, is chock full of adrenaline and speed. Vin Diesel's Dom is unquestionably the star of this vehicle. Still, a substantial amount of screen time has been devoted to Jason Momoa's Dante, an unhinged, flamboyant peacock of a man who has clearly lost his marbles. Whatever person Dante was before his father's infamous death is no more. Momoa plays Dante as a remarkably sarcastic, bombastic swashbuckler that rivals any Bond villain to the extreme. It works on many levels, and sometimes it's just plain silly.

But, silly is what fans of the franchise keep coming back for, and there seems to be no end in sight. Thankfully, "Fast X" provides its franchise devotees some much needed rejuvenation in the form of new additions and some familiar faces. Brie Larson injects some stability as Mr. Nobody's daughter Tess, a new ally for Dom and his family. A Brazilian street racer named Isabel (Daniela Melchoir) who gets caught up in Dante's michigas. The Agency's new leader Aimes (Alan Ritchson), gives masculinity a new name as he emerges from the shadows to help where he can.

But the backbone of "Fast X" comes from the family Dom has cultivated for several decades at this point, including reappearances by Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Scott Eastwood, and Helen Mirren. Several cameos work very well (Rita Moreno as Dom, Jakob, and Mia's grandmother) and some are unnecessary scenes that attempt comedy but fall flat (Pete Davidson). Much has been written about some other cameos from mid-credits scenes and the movie's climax, but I won't spoil the surprise for longtime viewers.

What needs to be known about "Fast X" is that it leans heavily on the absurd, as many of the movies in the franchise do. The action from director Louis Leterrier is top-notch, but the screenplay leaves much to be desired. The cast does their best to liven up the mood, even when Vin Diesel tries to wax poetic with speeches about family and honor. Despite all of this, the films started as just a story about street racing and morphed into a high stakes revenge plot involving government agencies and multimillion-dollar payouts. But the characters in "Fast X" make fun of these facts throughout the movie, so everyone is in on the joke.

"Fast X" sets up a new series of movies that will tie many of the old characters we've come to know and love with new additions to the franchise. Leterrier gives longtime fans easter eggs throughout, placing characters in many of the same scenarios they once found themselves stuck in in past movies. There are sequences that are almost shot-for-shot the same as other movies in the franchise, but with different characters. This is clearly on purpose and meant to evoke nostalgia for a series entering its third decade onscreen.

There's no telling how many more of these movies Diesel and Company have up their sleeves, but at least this one tries its best to set the stage for a new trilogy with a befitting villain. Momoa is having the time of his life with Dante, bringing menace and intrigue to an otherwise animated Big Bad. With a runtime of 2 hours and 20 minutes, it's not the most concise entry into the franchise, but time isn't felt in a place like this. With some of the internal fighting between crew members cut, the movie could have been streamlined. There are way too many characters to count at this point, and not all of them are necessary to the story. But it's a fun flick with outstanding climatic sequences and a colorful Jason Momoa that's worth the price of admission.

Ticket Rating: 🎟🎟🎟3/4


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