Dominic Toretto must protect his crew and family from Dante Reyes, the son of drug lord Hernan Reyes, seeking revenge for the loss of his family’s fortune from the heist in Rio de Janeiro.

Editing: Dylan Highsmith, Kelly Matsumoto, Laura Yanovich, Corbin Mehl
Brian Taylor

Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Momoa, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, Daniela Melchior, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Rita Moreno, Leo Abelo Perry

Director: Louis Leterrier
Screenplay: Dan Mazeau, Justin Lin
Story: Dan Mazeau, Justin Lin, Zach Dean
Based on: Characters by Gary Scott Thompson
Cinematography: Stephen F. Windon

At this point, with 10 films in the series, Fast and Furious has found its audience and knows what people expect and want from it. Crazy car sequences, one-liners and banter, barbeques, NOS, talk about the importance of Family. With Fast X billed as the first part of a two (or possibly three) part finale to the franchise, it is not likely to win over anyone not already invested in Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family, but it does shake things up considerably with the franchise’s most interesting antagonist to date.

A few years after the events of F9, Dom is hosting another of his famous barbeques after settling down with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Little Brian (Leo Abelo Perry). Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Han (Sung Kang) are soon off to Rome on a mission for the agency but it quickly goes sideways as Dante (Jason Momoa), the son of drug lord Hernan Reyes from Fast Five, soon frames Dom and his family for a terrorist attack. With the Agency turning on them, the family is separated and on the run, as Dom faces a man seeking to make him suffer.

Fast X is a very fun ride. There is a solid mix of hand-to-hand combat and crazy car-based action. While there is not a top-tier Fast and Furious moment in the film, there were plenty of moments that had me going WTF as Dom uses his car in new and creative ways or something crazy or gory happens in a fight. At times the film feels like a ‘best of’ the franchise so far, with many callbacks, homages and reused locations and footage. It is significantly signalling that this is the beginning of the end.

At the core of the film is Dom trying to learn about Dante’s plans and motivations, a decision that gives us maximum screen time with Jason Momoa’s character who is easily the best villain in the franchise to date. Sure to draw comparisons to The Joker, Momoa gives one of the best performances of his career as he oozes charisma and cool while quickly fluctuating between sinister and childish. Smart, cunning, wacky and incredibly stylish, Momoa’s performance is worthy of being the final big bad for this long-running series. 

The film primarily revolves around Dom and Dante, the rest of the large ensemble are left with limited time between them, with some getting better use of it than others. The team of Roman, Tej, Ramsey and Han are mostly there for comedic relief as they bumble from one misadventure to another while Letty is dealing with having to escape from an Agency blacksite. Newcomers to the franchise Brie Larson and Alan Ritchson play opposing forces within the Agency in regard to the family but are often just there to drop exposition and foreshadowing.

Charlize Theron does return as Cipher and it seems someone finally watched one of her action films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde or The Old Guard and decided to have her actually fight some people, rather than just stand behind a computer. The fight between her and Letty which has been teased in the trailers is a highlight of the film. Definitely her most enjoyable turn as the character so far.

Jakob (John Cena), the antagonist of the last film and Dom’s estranged brother, returns and a lot has changed in the years since we last saw him, with him seemingly to have worked things out with Dom, to the extent that he is entrusted with protecting Little Brian. He has also softened up considerably with the gruff superspy bravado facade giving way to something more silly like Cena’s performance in Peacemaker or even his WWE work. It is a bit jarring at first but I soon found myself accepting that Jakob had accepted his himbo-ness.

This entry seems to have a lot more or a lot more noticeable CGI. There are a few shots that broke my suspension of disbelief as it was clear that the car or Vin Diesel himself were not real, which is disappointing given the series’ use of practical effects in the past. Whether it was due to the delay caused by the departure of Justin Lin before Louis Leterrier took the rein or not, I’m hopeful the next one will be more in line with past entries. There is also a reveal at the end of the film which undercuts some of the emotional moments and the stakes that are built up before it.

When the credits started rolling, after screaming WTF internally, I was disappointed that we now have to wait an indeterminable amount of time to see what happens next, which is all you can ask for from the first part of a story. The building blocks have been set to bring this series to a grand finale with a lot of interesting directions to go and if the next film (or two) has performances like Jason Momoa’s, we are sure to have a fantastic final ride.

Ashley Hobley attended an advance screening of Fast X thanks to Universal Pictures Australia and Reading Cinemas.