After 20 years, the Fast franchise has done it all.
And, with its 10th film, Fast X, the series seems to have finally begun its last ride. Built as the first of a two-parter, this entry is supposed to signal the end of the story of Dominic Toretto with a final, non-sensical bang.
But dangit, it’s fun. In fact, it might even be one of the best of the franchise.
In Fast X, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family have finally settled down for a life of peace and family bbqs. However, when Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) emerges from the shadows of their past, the team are called back into the field for one last mission. But when the job goes bad, the team find themselves hunted by a team determined to shatter their family once and for all.
For some reason, no one really questions what’s happening or why in this franchise… and, perhaps most strangely, no one seems to care. To be honest, the franchise abandoned all sensibilities for genuine thought years ago. In fact, even the franchise itself acknowledges that the Fast films may have started to run out of gas. (“I can’t believe we’ve allowed them to go on this long,“ one character muses.) This is a series that began about illegal street racing but now has seen the crew launch themselves into space due to the funding of underground spy organizations. These films earn their box office bucks by creating a ruckus on screen with old friends. In so many ways, Fast X feels like a film that was made with your college buddies (if they’d been given $200 million dollar budget, of course). Stunts make little sense and characters return from the dead without any thought given to logic or consistency.
But, somehow, the insanity has become part of its charm.
This is a franchise that people can see themselves in it. The world of Furious has become the most bankable multi-cultural superhero franchise in years and, maybe, of all time. Diversity has always been key and, as it expands, so does the series’ palette of ethnicity. Whereas Marvel and Star Wars initially built their Empires upon the backs of predominantly white casting, the Fast family has always rooted itself in multiculturalism. It’s set them apart from other mega-franchises and has opened the door for everyone to feel like they belong.
But, more than this, there’s something relatable about these characters. Underneath the spy gear (!), nuclear submarines (!!) and space travel (!!!), the world of Dominic Toretto remains a story about family values. Frankly, it never ceases to amaze me that the Fast franchise is embedded with its own sensibilities of Conservative Americana amidst the chaos. Yes, they may be saving the world, but these are still simple people that emphasize family BBQs on Sunday, tucking their kids into bed and doing the right thing. Espousing ‘family’ as his most prominent F-word, Toretto fights to preserve the rituals that he holds most dear. (In fact, at one point, brother Jacob even chastises Toretto’s son for swearing, arguing that it’s only appropriate in certain circumstances.) For a franchise that started off about fast cars and booty shaking, Diesel has morphed it into a story about friends, traditions and family values.
While the next installment offers nothing particularly different, it does have a couple of new elements than make this ride enjoyable. First and foremost, one of the more crucial elements comes in the form of director Louis Leterrier. Known for films such as Clash of the Titans and Now You See Me, Leterrier has built a career on films that look pretty but never take themselves too seriously. Set in a film that features cars attached to helicopters, racing down exploding dams and nuclear pinball in the streets of Rome, Leterrier’s willingness to lean into the wild serves this franchise well.
However, easily the biggest laurels lie at the feet of newcomer, Jason Momoa. As the villainous Dante, Momoa may be the first villain added to the series that seems to be having more fun than the cast themselves. (In fact, Momoa literally dances around the screen with the playfulness of Nicholson’s Joker.) In doing so, he somehow matches the tone of a franchise that usually takes itself so far too seriously when its villains are concerned. In every film, Fast villains have been fierce, furious, and, for the most part, forgettable. But Momoa is entirely different. He is an agent of chaos, determined to make Toretto suffer rather than simply try to kill him.
For Momoa‘s Dante, bedlam is the victory.
However, was most apparent in this film is that Toretto‘s new F-word is ‘faith’. In the darkest of circumstances, Toretto clings to his crucifix with the belief that everything is going to turn out okay. While the film never directly addresses any specific Christian values, Toretto’s actions and heroism are rooted in a belief that good is on the horizon. Amidst Dante’s wanton destruction, clinging to that belief gives them hope and gives them the strength to keep going.
As a result of its goofiness, Fast X proves to be critic proof. The reality is that, if you’re not already a fan of the franchise, this is not going to be the film that wins you over. Fast X doubles down on all the things that have made the franchise so much money over the years and continues to expand upon them. However, if any part of you has become invested in these characters, Fast X provides the necessary, nonsensical thrill ride that the franchise deserves.
Fast X is available in theatres now.