Fast X Celebrates Found Family, Frenemies, and Saying F*** You to Physics
At some point, the Fast & Furious franchise decided that the Laws of Physics don’t apply to its universe. From ripping safes out of buildings to dropping rocket cars from suborbital space, the franchise that started out as basically Fox and the Hound with street racing ballooned into a world-saving, over-the-top action extravaganza that discarded all pretense of realism in exchange for big thrills and even bigger explosions. It treats continuity the same way it does Physics, constantly retconning events from the past to tack on characters to its ever-growing, uh, family.
This time around, we get Jason Momoa as Dante Reyes, the bastard son of drug kingpin Hernan Reyes, who was killed in Fast Five. You know the drill. Flashback scenes from the old film, retconned with an insert of a new character who goes after Dom (Vin Diesel) and his family, seeking revenge. Because it’s either that or blowing up the world.
Reyes isn’t interested in destroying the world like Cipher (Charlize Theron) or Owen Shaw (Luke Evans); he doesn’t care about running a drug cartel like his dad or Carter Verone from 2 Fast 2 Furious. He falls into the revenge column along with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) but does villainy in his own flamboyant, murderously unhinged way. Reyes is the fanciest, flashiest Fast antagonist yet, and if Fast X works at all, it’s because Momoa completely sells us on the idea of a silk shirt-wearing madman with colorful nail polish.
The Fast series is essentially a cartoon. It’s one painted train tunnel away from being a live-action Wily E. Coyote and Roadrunner episode. The only way to enjoy these films is to leave your brain at the door because nothing really makes sense. The moment you start asking any questions, everything falls apart. Never mind physics, the Fast franchise tossed that out the window completely five or six movies ago, but the fact that Dom’s family keeps growing by turning their enemies to allies breaks the laws of movie logic, too. It’s like Thanos chilling with Iron Man over shawarmas after the big purple guy wiped out half the universe. Heck, Wanda even turned into a villain from being an Avenger.
In a way, the Fast franchise’s positive spin on frenemies is kind of refreshing. Even Christopher Nolan’s Batman said you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. In the Fast universe, the reverse is true. Villains either die or become part of the ever-growing Toretto family tree. Killed a member of the family? No worries, come to the next Toretto barbecue and knock back a few Coronas. All will be forgiven, and you can hang with the good guys. You might get into a fistfight or two, but hey, that’s just family bonding.
In Fast X, Cipher is the latest frenemy to switch sides, mainly because Reyes is such a horrible guy he even goes after other bad guys. Sure, Cipher and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) kick each other’s butts just as Deckard and Han (Sung Kang) trade punches, kicks, and body slams, but in the end, the enemy of your enemy is kind of your friend. And Reyes is everyone’s enemy. Even his henchmen are terrified of him, and they’re only working for him because he’s got their wives or kids under gunpoint somewhere. No wife or kids? No problem, Reyes will just blow your brains out.
Momoa is half the fun of Fast X. The other half is all the explosions, car crashes, and ass-kicking. And oh boy, there’s a whole lot of it. Fast X goes from 0 to 60 from the opening credits and floors it all the way. The only time it slows down is to give more backstory, including introducing two new members to the family, Isabel (Daniela Melchior) and Tess (Brie Larson), who happen to be blood relatives of characters from previous films. The Fast franchise really takes the whole family thing seriously.
And because it’s about family, Fast X actually manages to be a family-friendly film that’s just about as violent as your regular superhero movie. Fast and the Furious traded up from camp to cartoony and the action sequences have progressively gotten bigger and more unbelievable with each film. Dante lets a giant bomb loose in Rome, crushing cars and smashing buildings like an oversized bowling ball and it’s straight out of a cartoon villain’s playbook. There’s a macabre scene with Dante giving a pedicure, but it helps drive home the point about how the newest Fast villain has more than a few screws loose.
Fast X is only as much fun as you’re willing to ride its ridiculousness. Nobody has superpowers, but for some reason, people and their cars survive being dropped from planes and crashing into walls. Heck, people who are supposed to be dead come back, like Han and [redacted]. This makes character deaths kind of meaningless in the Fast universe since it’ll probably be retconned at some point. Tony Stark will probably stay dead while Toretto’s family and friends keep coming back, making the Fast franchise more of a comic book movie than other movies based on actual comic books.
Even the late Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner, hasn’t been written out of canon and probably never will be. He’s still an off-camera part of the story and it’s not inconceivable that they’ll bring him back through the magic of AI and CGI or recast him at some point. Anything goes in the Fast universe. It’s 100 percent a cartoon, and if you’re on board with that kind of logic- and physics-breaking, you’ll absolutely have a great time with Fast X.
And if you have a great time with Fast X, you might get excited about the fact that it’s just the first part of a two-part franchise finale. Think about it as the Empire Strikes Back of the Fast franchise. Spoiler alert: it ends with a cliffhanger and boasts a mid-credits scene that absolutely predictable but will get you hyped up for the sequel, anyway. If and when the Fast series finally does end with Fast X Part 2, don’t worry. You can always have more stories with the Shaws (more Luke Owens and Vanessa Kirby? Yes, please), the Hobbses, and even the Nobodys (father-daughter buddy cop action? Why not?). After all, nothing says familia more than making a billion dollars at the box office.