It is with a heavy heart, ruptured eardrums, and a freshly cleansed set of bowels that I must tell you how Fast X bludgeoned me into a state of near-catatonic emptiness. Like achieving nirvana, if it was run by face mites.
It begs the question: Can one get so full that you come full circle? Like, say, if you drink a gallon of Golytely and then unceremoniously give it the bum rush, hollowing yourself out in the process? Or maybe you’re not yet over 50 and don’t get that reference?
Or MAYBE you are well over 50 and you’re part of the massive cast of Fast X? That’s also possible.
In any case, that is what Fast X is like: A force-feeding and the inevitable result. It is so much, so quickly, and delivered with such ham-fisted intensity that you’re left questioning if developing a fatal disease might not be such a rotten alternative. I write this — honestly, dejectedly — as someone who was too haughty for the Fast & Furious franchise until it solidly and unironically gave me the best kind of heartworms. Until (*meaningful look*) it become FAMILY.
But Fast X broke me.
If you’re somehow not up on all things fast and/or furious, here’s all you need to know:
- Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is the neutron star at the center of a rapidly expanding galaxy of crooks, hackers, ne’er-do-wells, coppers, psycho-killers, mechanics, fashion victims, and accidental astronauts.
- Together with these yeggs, they have formed a family — and grown from people who boost stereos to those upon which the continued existence of the world depends. Like as if James Bond started in Dr. No as a toll booth operator.
- That’s it. The rest is entertaining and irrelevant garbage. Characters that die, don’t. Conflicts that emerge, invert themselves in patterns that would confuse M.C. Escher.
In the Fast & Furious world, physics are irrelevant. Morality is permeable. Character can switch polarity instantaneously. Cars are like magical familiars, particularly if they happen to be mint condition matte black 1970 Dodge Challengers, of which there are an endless supply, dispersed across the globe, waiting for Dominic Toretto to summon them with a borderline repulsive smirk.
In Fast X, a whole bunch of stuff happens, at speed and volume, almost none of which makes sense or is nearly amusing or even distracting enough. Did you sit through those Avengers movies? It’s like those, except somehow less coherent or soothing.
I didn’t much like it.
And that is sorrowful, as I really wanted to.
In this one, the Brazilian drug lord who was the nemesis in the excellent Fast Five returns in flashback to have a mentally disturbed son, played by the eyebrows that animate the golem known as Jason Momoa. This villain — Dante Reyes — is performed as if Siegfried & Roy had a kid that they kept locked in a junk drawer during his formative years. While one can’t fault Momoa for not giving it his all, that’s about the best I can say.
Choosing to play Dante as of indeterminate sexuality is fine. Who cares? (Answer: social conservatives) Failing to tie that choice into anything relevant to the character other than flamboyant costumes and stereotypically gay affect means you’ve got a pseudo-homosexual psychopath facing off against Dominic Toretto’s lug-headed machismo and that made me uncomfortable. This being a Fast & Furious film — directed by the reliably disappointing Louis Leterrier — there’s likely no deeper meaning to this choice than it seemed like fun. And yet, it takes a tent pole film and has it equate alternative sexuality with evil & crazy. Again.
I resent that, in the same way I resented the way Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd were played in Diamonds Are Forever: as a joke and as the subject of derision. A better actor might have pulled it off. Momoa is not that actor.
Anyway, stuff happens. Most of it digitally. Rome gets the Rio treatment, rehashing Fast Five in a way that lacked the original’s audacity. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) have an interminable tiff about something — maybe you can figure out what — before it ends for reasons as impenetrable. Brie Larson shows up as Mr. Nobody’s daughter and struts about in tight pants and tight skin. I liked her far better looking far worse in Room and Short Term 12.
What else? Shit blows up. Characters come and go. Family gets biggerer. Dante prances around with corpses and then Toretto’s school-aged son, Little B (Leo Abelo Perry) joins up with Toretto’s brother Jakob (John Cena) to kill a bunch of people and high-five about it. Never too young to celebrate killing people with a cannon, amirite?
Fast X, you should be warned (and expecting), ends in a cliffhanger as it is part one of two or three or another ten. Are your fave family members dead, for-reals-dead, half-dead, or un-dead? Will Toretto survive being eaten by an armored hippopotamus armed only with a tank of nitrous-oxide and a hex wrench? Will Dante somehow flip sides in Furious Eleven (I’m guessing) to join the family and defeat the series’ surprise arch-villain, Dominic’s presumed dead-in-a-race-car-explosion father? Who the fuck knows.
And, today at least, who the fuck cares?
Previous Fast & Furious films weren’t the pinnacles of art. Most of them weren’t even movies. But I enjoyed many of them heartily. Fast X isn’t bad — it’s just boring. Shoved so full of EVERYTHING so relentlessly that you’ll want to void yourself, completely, should you somehow manage to consume it all.
Three stars. Would see it again.