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Fast X Review

One of the major contention points of the current writers’ strike is the use of artificial intelligence to write scripts. The writers, rightfully, would rather not see studios use AI to craft films or television shows, and they see it as a threat to their jobs and to the entertainment industry as a whole. AI can’t match human imagination – it can only emulate, or borrow, or outright plagiarize.

That said, if AI had actually come up with the script for Fast X, it probably wouldn’t be far off. There are only fleeting moments of what could pass as human interaction or emotion, and every story beat is orchestrated for fan service instead of anything resembling original thought.

Fast X Review

The apex of this series remains the fifth, sixth, and seventh films, where the spectacle evenly mixed with stupidity and this odd franchise became something more than the sum of its parts, at least for a little while. It’s easy to pinpoint when that equilibrium got out of balance, and it can be explained as simply as this – for a series that often bent over backwards to give audiences what they wanted, it became something of a running joke.

At least in Fast Five the series winked and nudged and laughed right along with the audience, but eventually all that winking and nudging becomes facial tics and jamming its elbows into our ribcage to make sure we’re still paying attention.

Fast X Review

I will say this for Fast X – it does embrace how dumb all of this is again. Fast 9 was strangely dour and almost pessimistic, and it completely wasted John Cena, an actor who has been in some outrageously funny comedies and although he’s built like a Mack truck, can be as graceful and as funny as some of the best comedians. All Cena’s Jacob does in F9 is scowl, and at least he’s given a chance to crack a smile this time around, which is a marked improvement.

Fast X lets “The Fast Saga” be silly again, but it does so without moderation. Even when the series was joyously stupid at times, it still tried to stay somewhat grounded. Yes, the stunt work was more mainframe than Michelin, but there was always plausible deniability.

Fast X Review

Not anymore. Fast X is more video game than movie, where no one ever really dies, characters defy the laws of gravity and physics and brush themselves off afterwards, and the action sequences are pure zeros and ones. Nothing has any real weight to it, and the dialogue only serves to crack wise without any real meaning.

Maybe there will be audiences who will enjoy it, much as toddlers are fascinated with your car keys. Speaking for myself, I used to appreciate the earnestness of the series, where it felt strangely ambitious for what was once a street-racing franchise. Now, it’s hard to remember when the series was that charming or genuine.

It’s not a complete disaster. I get the feeling that when the producers hired Jason Momoa to be the villain, they wanted to capture the chaos and the threat of, perhaps, the work of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Momoa certainly is riffing on the Joker, but it’s not Ledger’s. If anything, it’s Cesar Romero’s. Momoa’s Dante is outrageous, hilarious, and I’d say he steals the movie except that no one else in the movie even comes close to taking the ball from him.

It’s like watching Michael Jordan play basketball with a roomful of cats. They aren’t making any baskets with him around. Dante is the son of Reyes (Joachim de Alameida), who died during the events of Fast Five. He’s not just seeking revenge against Dom (Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), and the others, he wants to make them suffer. And if Dante can get Dom’s son in the bargain, all the better.

There are a few action sequences that remind us of better Fast & Furious movies, especially a bomb rolling loose on the streets of the Vatican, reminiscent of the safe chase in Fast Five (instead of a cube, it’s a ball – how original). Soon everyone is on their own separate tracks – Letty is stuck in a black site prison with Cipher (Charlize Theron), while the bulk of the team tries to get Shaw (Jason Statham) to help, while Jacob and Dom’s son Little Brian (Leo Abelo Perry) make a run for it.

Vin Diesel spends so much time away from his “family” and team that you start to wonder if there was something in his contract that specified that he couldn’t share the screen with any of the other cast members for more than five minutes at a time.

I understand that Paul Walker’s tragic death makes using or referencing Brian O’Conner, but it’s to the point now that it’s straining credulity (yes, even for this franchise) that O’Conner hasn’t stepped in at some point. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Walker’s work in the franchise, but I realize now what he brought to the table – even as these movies got more ridiculous, Walker brought, dare I say, some credibility to everything.

Vin Diesel stopped being a human being in this series quite a few films back, but Brian O’Conner was always relatable. With him gone, this simply becomes a series of fights and battles where nothing gets resolved because no one is allowed to lose, or die, or have any stakes beyond the next five minutes.

If you don’t like the way the story is going, just wait a few minutes, because character motivations will change, someone will come back from the dead, or something will blow up good to distract you. Fast X cynically ends with a cliffhanger, almost literally, but it doesn’t matter because nothing does. There are no repercussions, no consequences, in these movies. It’s all empty calories.

If you’re a completist, you may want to watch this one if you’ve seen the others. If you quit this series some movies back, this isn’t one that would bring you back into the family.

I will say that Jason Momoa’s performance is leaps and bounds the reason to see this movie. I almost want to see it again just to watch him do… whatever it is he’s doing. It’s weird and fun and unexpected, and I say this wholeheartedly – I was rooting for him throughout Fast X‘s running time. That’s not great when your villain has the audience actively rooting against the heroes, but it is what it is. To borrow from a much smarter movie, Fast X is stoopid with two O’s.


Universal Pictures will release Fast X in theaters on May 19, 2023. The film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material.

Fast X Review