Fast X opens up with footage from Fast Five. You may find this hard to believe, but Fast X retcons some things we thought we knew about this series to insert Jason Momoa’s new villain, Dante Reyes, into the events of Fast Five, as the son of drug lord Hernan Reyes. (The “hard to believe” line is sarcasm.) But watching scenes from Fast Five again, it’s a stark reminder of the epitome of the Fast series. As we watch Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) steal Hernan Reyes’s safe again, there was a day and age where dragging a giant safe with two cars through the streets of Rio de Janeiro was, once upon a time, the height of wackiness for this series. In the ninth movie of this franchise, a car is driven to space. Rewatching Fast Five makes it seem like a grounded drama. Compared to the latest installments, Fast Five might as well be the Ordinary People of this film series.
Also, seeing Paul Walker back as Brian, even in old footage, really drives home the point how much this series misses him. I’m not going to pretend I have the right answer on how Walker’s death should have been handled when he was tragically killed before filming of Fast & Furious 7 was complete. James Wan, who directed that installment, was dealt a near-impossible task. But as an audience we still mourn his loss, yet the characters do not because Brian is still around in the Fast universe, he just doesn’t show up anymore. By now, I wish this had been addressed. Maybe something like the way Wakanda Forever handled the loss of Chadwick Boseman. So that the characters can feel the loss of their friend the same way we feel the loss of an actor we admired. Even in Fast X, with a plot based on the fact that anyone who was involved in the Fast Five heist is now in big trouble at the hands of Dante Reyes. This leads to Dom having to deliver a clunky line saying that he called Brian and “he’s safe.” Oh, okay? Well, if it’s that easy, why not just do what Brian is doing to stay safe?
So, yes, in Louis Letterrier’s Fast X (replacing Justin Lin who came back for Fast 9, then abruptly left Fast X a week into filming) Dante Reyes is seeking revenge. (Also, Jason Momoa is really going for something here. And I’m not totally convinced it always works? There’s one scene in particular … yeah, I just don’t know. But I do appreciate he’s trying stuff out.) Dante has set a trap in Rome for Dom and his family. What seems like a routine mission turns out to be a setup in which Dom and his crew are going to take the fall for blowing up the Vatican. Dom prevents the bomb from hitting its target, but it still explodes in Rome and Dom and his crew are now international fugitives. Making matters more complicated, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is captured and taken to a black site in Antarctica. Making matters more complicated than that, the new head of the agency Mr. Nobody runs, Aimes (Alan Ritchson), has severed all ties with Dom and instructs his agency to find them and bring them to justice. Dom’s only friend left in the agency is Tess (Brie Larson), the daughter of Mr. Nobody, who finds Dom and agrees to help him free Letty and clear everyone’s name. (Good gravy there are so many characters in this movie. I have seen every single one of the Fast movies and I had trouble remembering who was related to whom. We get some deep-cut characters returning so, yes, be ready.)
One of the biggest problems with Fast X is it feels like Fast 9 just came out. If you recall, it was finished before the pandemic, but delayed until theaters were consistently open again. (I remember being at the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami and Fast 9 had a big presence there promoting the movie. It wouldn’t actually come out until June of 2021.) But the thing about Fast 9, it did kind of feel like the first big movie to be released after the pandemic started. I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. Now it’s less than two years later and here we are again. These movies are like eating a very rich dessert. They kind of need to be properly spaced out or you start not feeling too great.
Also making this installment complicated is it doesn’t have an ending. It literally ends during the middle of a scene. After 2 hours and 20 minutes of Fast action, even I was taken aback when the credits started to roll. That’s kind of the social contract we have with these movies: we will see a ridiculous story, have some laughs, then watch everyone celebrate at the barbecue. Well, that doesn’t happen this time and I do wonder how audiences who don’t know this isn’t a complete story will react? (Though, I’m fairly sure there’s a post-credit scene coming that my audience didn’t get to see. Perhaps that will take some edge off the abruptness.)
We were once promised this would be the last movie of the franchise. then it got split in two and we were then promised the next one will be last. Now Vin Diesel seems to be trying to will this into a three-part ending. And he’ll probably succeed. Honestly, I’d be surprised if it even ends there. We will probably get five more last Fast movies. Why even keep up the charade that these are ending? Let’s just all admit these will never end.
‘Fast X’ opens in theaters on May 19th. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.