Reviewed for FilmFactual.com by Karen Benardello
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writers: Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Momoa, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Scott Eastwood, Daniela Melchior, Helen Mirren, Brie Larson, with Rita Moreno, Jason Statham and Charlize Theron
Opens: May 19, 2023
Screened at: AMC Lincoln Square, New York City, NY, 5/15/23
Honoring and protecting family in the most daring and unexpected ways, particularly during dangerous situations, has always been the most captivating theme of the high-octane ‘The Fast and the Furious’ franchise. The latest installment in the series, ‘Fast X,’ proves to be no different, as even the seemingly most heinous crimes hint at being driven by a sense of loyalty and respect. The action movie, which will be released in theaters tomorrow, May 19 by Universal Pictures, shows that no matter what tense and dire situations families find themselves in, continuously proving that they can never be broken is an essential part of life.
Throughout ‘The Fast and the Furious’ franchise, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel, who also serves a producer) and his family have outsmarted and outdriven every foe in their path over many missions and against impossible odds. Now, in ‘Fast X,’ they must confront the most lethal opponent they’ve ever faced: a terrifying threat emerging from the shadows of the past who’s fueled by blood revenge, and who is determined to shatter this family and destroy everything – and everyone – that Dom loves, forever.
In 2011’s ‘Fast Five,’ Dom and his crew took out nefarious Brazilian drug kingpin Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida)) and ended his empire on a bridge in Rio De Janeiro. ‘Fast X’ shows that what they didn’t know was that Reyes’ son, Dante (Jason Momoa), witnessed it all and has spent the last 12 years masterminding a plan to make Dom pay the ultimate price.
After opening with the rehashing of ‘Fast Five’s climax, ‘Fast X’ begins in the present day and reunites Dom and his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), with his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), their grandmother, Abuelita Toretto (Rita Moreno), and their friend Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Han Lue (Sung Kang). As the group reminisces on their time together, Roman, Tej and Ramsey discuss how The Agency has requested that they steal a computer chip during its transit in Rome.
Dom and Letty receive a surprise visit later that night by their main enemy from the last two entries in the series, Cipher (Charlize Theron), who warns them about Dante’s plans. The news is then confirmed by Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), who reveals that The Agency hasn’t sent Roman, Tej and Ramsey on the mission to Rome
As a result, Dante’s plot will scatter Dom’s family from Los Angeles to the Rome, Brazil, London, Portugal and Antarctica. New alliances will also be forged with not only Cipher, but also Dom and Mia’s formerly estranged brother, Jakob (John Cena); Tess (Brie Larson), the daughter of Mr. Nobody and a rogue representative of his agency; and Isabel (Daniela Melchior), a Brazilian street racer who has past ties to Dom. Also joined by another former adversary, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), and his mother, Queenie (Helen Mirren), Dom’s entire crew does whatever it takes to protect not only each other, but also his 8-year-old son, Little Brian (Leo Abelo Perry), from Dante’s vengeance.
Like its nine predecessors, the tenth installment in the powerfully entertaining and continuously thrilling action franchise is driven by a sense of loyalty and respect to not only the returning and new characters and their commitment to family, but also the series’ mythology. That celebration of the franchise was crafted by ‘Fast X’s writers, newcomer Dan Mazeau and series veteran Justin Lin, and directed by Louis Leterrier, who also made his ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise debut.
The trio were so well educated in all of the characters and storylines that they effortlessly fine-tuned Dante’s villainous arc throughout the story. The filmmakers’ thorough knowledge of the characters, who have appeared in various installments since the series debuted in 2001 with ‘The Fast and the Furious,’ that they truly raised the question of whether Dom and his crew can once again survive their latest adversary.
Unsurprisingly, Dante has worked incognito for over a decade to plan his revenge on Dom and his crew for being responsible for the death of his father, and has only now made his presence known during the events of ‘Fast X.’ But the character’s secretive nature helped Momoa make his performance as the conniving, merciless antagonist tantalizing and alluring, which helps revive the franchise’s potent tension. With the ninth sequel marking the beginning of the series conclusion, the ending story and conflict needed one last grand infusion of conflict to highlight the fact that Dom and his crew thrive the most when they’re protecting each other.
Like with all of the previous entries in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, the loyalty of the characters’ close relationships as they work to not only protect each other but also save the world is driven by the scope of the car culture that was first introduced in the street car racing theme of the first movie, 2001’s ‘The Fast and the Furious.’ Picture car supervisor Dennis Mccarthy, who has worked on every installment in the franchise since the second follow-up, 2006’s ‘Tokyo Drift,’ once again paired the characters with unique classic performance vehicles that match the characters’ personalities in ‘Fast X.’ From Dom’s electric concept car Dodge Charger Daytona Banshee SRT to Cipher’s sleek tech-driven Delorean and Dante’s new adventure touring Harley Davidson Pan America, the vechicles perfectly visually emphasizes the characters’ personalities, motives and goals.
Dom and his crew are in endless pursuit of stopping Dante throughout ‘Fast X,’ the latter of whom leads the protagonists across the world from Los Angeles to such locations as Rome, London and Rio de Janeiro, Portugal, and even Antarctica. To bring the diverse locations to the screen, the series’ veteran production designer, Jan Roelfs, and his team of artisans, sculptors, painters and construction crew conceived and executed captivating fully functioning film sets on soundstages at Leavesden Studios outside London. The crew also incorporated intriguing partial set pieces to existing buildings and structures that were captured on camera in Rome, Turin and Lisbon.
Roelfs once again elevated the production design of the ‘Fast Saga’ for its tenth entry by creating a distinct visual landscape and capturing the tone and heart of the newest film’s narrative. The most successful key sets designs that drove the stunning visuals of ‘Fast X’ include the flashback scenes to ‘Fast 5’s climax. For that sequence, the production designer perfectly recaptured the set designs from the fourth sequel, from the Rio bridge to the police station, so that Leterrier could film Momoa’s scenes in a way that seamlessly fit into the franchise’s history.
Another key memorable set from the series’ history that plays a key role in ‘Fast X’ is the Toretto’s backyard, which most recently appeared in ‘F9, which meant that Roefls and the construction team were easily able to rebuild the nostalgic set on the studio backlot.
‘Fast X’ also continues the franchise’s innovative camera work and lighting design have always been an integral part of the Fast universe. The series also thrived under the guidance of director of photography Stephen F. Windon, who returned for his seventh installment with the franchise, after starting on ‘Tokyo Drift.’ He once again adapted the newest camera technology and lighting techniques for the first entry of the series’ epic conclusion.
Once again creating an epic Quarter Mile race and accompanying party that has become one of the most memorable sequences in the franchise, the cinematographer worked with Leterrier to create one of the most memorable shots for the ninth follow-up. To kick off the film’s crucial Quarter Mile race at the party in Rio, the director of photography and helmer crafted a continuous, groundbreaking shot that sweeps through four different cars, with all had actors seated in the driver’s seats, and then boomed down to the gear shift to jumpstart the action.
‘Fast X’ is a emotionally and visually captivating beginning to the concluding trilogy of the ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise. The ninth sequel is driven by a sense of loyalty and respect to not only the returning and new characters and their sense of family, but also the series’ mythology. From Momoa’s captivating performance as the franchise’s most cunning antagonist to Roelfs’ alluring production design and Windon’s daring cinematography, the new action follow-up is a noteworthy installment that revs up the potential for the franchise’s final two entries.