Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Fast X

Title: Fast X

Describe This Movie In One Kung Fu Panda 2 Quote:
MANTIS: I didn't have any problems with my dad. Maybe it's 'cause Mom ate his head before I was born.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Big men drive fast, go boom.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3 Heist-o-Trons out of 5.
Tagline: "The end of the road begins."

Better Tagline: "I like 'em big and stupid."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) Toretto have it all: a cute kid, an of relatives, and friends that are so close they may as well be...blood relations. But  their idyllic life is soon interrupted when Dom's old nemesis Cypher (Charlize Theron) shows up, asking for his and his crew's help to fight off new bad guy Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa). If that name sounds familiar, it's because he's the son of Hernan Reyes, ripped off and unceremoniously offed by Dom and company five movies ago.
"Critical" Analysis: It was while sitting in the theater waiting for Fast X to start that I started doing some math in my head: if you watch all ten Fast & Furious movies (yes, including Hobbs & Shaw), it comes out to just about 24 hours of viewing. While that's not as onerous a task as watching all the Bond movies back to back, or — heaven forbid — every MCU entry, these are still films that began life as a Point Break knockoff involving DVD player thieves. Whatever your thoughts on their artistic merits, that longevity is pretty impressive.

Fast X, directed by Louis Leterrier (replacing longtime F&F helmer Justin Lin, who nonetheless co-wrote the screenplay), is a fairly representative entry in the series, meaning it relies on increasingly ridiculous action set pieces interrupted by self-important ruminations on the subject of "family" and the importance of protecting one's loved ones, even if that means constantly putting your life on the line for vague geopolitical objectives.

But while these movies are dumb — often gloriously so — it doesn't make you dumb for enjoying them, does it? [tugs collar]

The expression "turn your brain off" as it pertains to movies is grievously overused, but not in the case of the Fast movies. As before, you have terrestrial vehicles defying gravity, physics, and structural engineering while characters we assumed were dead (Letty, Han, ad inf.) pop back up like comic book sidekicks. It's kind of perverse that the filmmakers keep resurrecting these fictional constructs while maintaining the harlequinade around Brian O'Conner, portrayed by the Paul Walker, the one guy who actually died.

Similarly far-fetched is how Dom and Letty still live in the same completely indefensible L.A. house, even though — as Cypher puts it — "the line to kill Dom is around the block." If all Dom cares about is "protecting the people he loves," why doesn't he just quit? Could it be because working for The Agency shields him from liability for all the innocent bystanders he and his crew have killed?
Thankfully, Momoa brings the one thing that's inexplicably been missing from these movies: camp. Roman and Tej have their banter, and Cena's Jakob brings some much needed self-deprecation, but Dante is a delightfully catty bitch, and really saves Fast X from getting bogged down in the franchise's combo of gonzo idiocy and weepy telenovela.

His routine still threatens to get stale over the course of Fast X's nearly 2.5-hour running time (the first ten minutes of which are a replay of the vault heist from Fast Five). How it will play over the course of another movie (or two?) remains to be seen.

Because as Diesel recently let us know, the F&F series will end after movie number twelve. This is significant for a couple of reasons. The first being that by then it'll comfortably be one of top five most profitable movie franchises of all time. And second, Diesel will be 60 by the time Schnell Zwölf (or whatever) is released.

And even then, there's no reason to stop. Almost as cliched as "turn your brain off" with regards to movies is "critic-proof," but if anything qualifies, these do. Momoa elevates the ponderous dialogue and Wile E. Coyote action sequences, which are (barely) enough to recommend Fast X.

As I said after the release of F9 (I think), after the bombs fall and mutant, man-eating cockroaches rule the Earth, it's entirely possible the perpetual motion-picture machine set in motion by thousands of drifting cars and swirling bikini-clad buttocks will churn these movies out until the sun goes dark. Embrace the chaos.

Number Of Times "Family" Is Mentioned: 19

Fast X is in theaters today.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar