Fast X lacks memorable action, but improves on recent sequels

Vin Diesel and the fam face off against Jason Momoa in this tenth Fast & Furious movie, packed with all the stars you do (and don’t) expect. Fast X isn’t exhilarating in the way some films in the series have been, nor is it as infuriating or disappointing as some of the others, writes Daniel Rutledge.

While it doesn’t recapture the glory of the Fast & Furious series in its prime, Fast X is a step in the right direction as an improvement on the regrettable eighth and ninth films. The particular flavour of goofiness this franchise specialises in has been tweaked back to a more palatable and enjoyable level, but rest assured, there’s no skimping on the comical stupidity.

It’s hard to keep these movies exciting as the stakes have become so low. Not only do the characters behave like invincible superheroes, even when they do die, they always come back in a later movie anyway. Yet somehow the tenth main Fast & Furious is fairly exciting before it ends on a cliffhanger with less resolution than any previous entry yet.

It’s definitely entertaining, yet while this is 142 minutes of pretty much nonstop action, none of it is very memorable action. There isn’t really one of the iconic ‘what about the bit where…’ stunts from the earlier films and there certainly isn’t one of the epic fistfight showdowns that were highlights of many Fast and Furious outings.

But there is a constant onslaught of cool guys and cool girls driving cool cars really fast, crashing into stuff to blow it up and crashing into other stuff to stop it blowing up. Early on there’s a big cartoon bomb rolling through the streets of Rome, later there’s an update on the classic Fast & Furious-style highway car battle and then there’s some fairly spectacular action on a huge dam.

The movie chugs along at a solid pace, the action sequences tied together with the typically hilarious cheesiness fans dig, albeit with fewer mentions of ‘family’ for some reason. We get the usual Corona sipping as well as some mechanic work and a barbeque. We even get a classic drag race complete with skimpily clad women gyrating to music in slow-mo, a once-essential part of the franchise that has been toned down in recent years.

That drag race takes place in Rio de Janeiro, which is where Dante, the new big bad, comes from. I foresee a lot of people really enjoying Jason Momoa’s antics as Dante. He appears to be channelling Heath Ledger’s Joker but ramping the camp levels up to a crazy degree, and he’s allowed to seemingly mock the preposterousness of the movie he’s in from right there within it. I prefer Momoa in sinister sneering mode where you can almost feel the contempt radiating from him, which we get a bit of in Fast X, but he’s clearly having more fun going all Scooby-Doo villain with it. It is an undeniably fun performance that at the very least differentiates him from the generic Fast & Furious villains he follows.

It would be a spoiler to say which characters are resurrected from the dead or otherwise brought back in this time, but it wouldn’t be a Fast & Furious movie without at least one and fans will be stoked with what happens in that regard. The abrupt ‘to be continued…’ ending is as frustrating as they always are, even though we knew it was coming this time as the franchise heads into its home straight.

Still, this is a solid set-up for the following final one (or apparently now two films) Vin Diesel and the gang have planned. Fast X isn’t exhilarating in the way some Fast & Furious films have been, nor is it as infuriating or disappointing as some of the others have been. It’s a passable popcorn film and a nice hangout with these old knuckleheads as they race ever closer to their ultimate finish line, which thankfully now looks as though it isn’t going to be the disaster we were heading for.