The ninth Fast & Furious movie, released in 2021, bundled its gearhead heroes into a rocket car and literally shot them into space. And that, you may argue, is as far as this franchise could ever possibly go. After brushing fingertips with the cosmos, you can only realistically go down. But the greatest mistake anyone could make with these movies is to assume they have any interest in our feeble, earthborn rules. Fast & Furious isn’t merely an action series – it’s Twin Peaks if David Lynch had guzzled nitromethane before calling action.
Fast X isn’t driven by an impetus to “go bigger” but to “go more insane”. And while the crew may not visit outer space this time around – or ride dinosaurs or discover Atlantis, or any of the other wild predictions that have circulated around the internet lately – this biblically-scaled soap opera will happily rewrite the laws of gravity and physiology just to put a smile on its audience’s faces. And Fast X, in particular, is better than many of the series’s most recent instalments. It starts with a heist in Rome that involves an RC Racer, a gold Lamborghini and 12 canisters of laughing gas. A gigantic, spherical bomb then rolls, while on fire, through the city’s cobbled streets and straight towards the Vatican. It ends with the TNT-packed mother of all cliffhangers.
The plot, let’s be honest, is arbitrary. Remember back in The Fate of the Furious (2017), when Charlize Theron’s Cipher was introduced as the ultimate baddie and most nefarious of masterminds? Well, never mind, because here she rocks up at the house of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry) with a warning that the actual ultimate baddie and most nefarious of masterminds is a guy called Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa). He’s the son of former Fast villain Hernan Reyes and here gets retroactively inserted into the climactic high-speed, safe-dragging car chase of Fast Five (2011). Dante’s vengeful crusade, which he apparently waited a decade to do anything about, is so all-consuming that he’ll happily go after everyone and anyone who’s been recruited into what one disgruntled authority figure describes as “a cult with cars”.
What’s borderline miraculous is that, despite a cast list that’s on track to soon reach the population size of Luxembourg, director Louis Leterrier keeps everything relatively in check. He’s taking over here from series regular Justin Lin, who departed several weeks into production, reportedly over creative differences with Diesel. It feels like the only real guidance Leterrier gave his actors was to have fun and be themselves.
Momoa is the film’s MVP by a country mile, playing Dante as an opera-warbling, knife-sucking, pink-scrunchie enthusiast. He giggles his way through the whole film. Brie Larson, as a sympathetic intelligence operative, turns up to a climactic fight wearing silver sequinned trainers and armed with a shotgun. She seems overjoyed to be playing in this particular sandbox. John Cena, miserable before as Dom’s long-lost brother, is now the goofball we know and love him to be. Theron finally gets to throw a punch. Sung Kang’s Han is actually allowed to contribute. So don’t ever say that the Fast & Furious films don’t care about their audience. This is the cinematic equivalent of ice cream for dinner.
Dir: Louis Leterrier. Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Momoa, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Brie Larson. 12A, 141 minutes.
‘Fast X’ is in cinemas from 19 May