Fast X (2023) Review
IT is the beginning of the end for the Fast and Furious, a franchise which has remarkably stood the test of time, spanning three decades since its debut entry in 2001. Whether it be about representing the street racing scene of Los Angles to revolving around lost brothers and robot technology, Fast and Furious has managed to keep one thing clear: it is all about family (for better or for worse).
Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is seeking clarity with his family, but is forced to defend those he cares for most after his friends and family are being targeted by Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), son of drug kingpin Hernan Reyes, for killing his father years ago during the events of Fast Five. This major threat forces Dom to reconnect with friends and enemies in his past to take down this highly-motivated billionaire who seeks to destroy Dom's entire world.
There seemed to be a turning point for the Fast and Furious franchise during the 2010s when they decided to take the series to implausible levels, leaning into its perceived expectations of being nothing more than mindless fun. This thought process worked heavily in its favour, receiving positive reviews from audiences and critics alike who both excepted that films like Fast and Furious have a purpose in being "simple fun". But as these films continued to receive high praise, lead pitchers behind each movie to follow became obsessed with expanding the little bits of lore that existed within the series. This decision to focus on story rather than spectacle has led Fast and Furious on a downward path ever since, and while Fast X contains some of the most absurd action sequences the series has ever seen, it also devotes much of its 2 and a halve hour runtime to plot elements very few people, including myself, actually care about. Dom's decade-long plot motivation about family has become a joke to the point where the script contains nearly 60 instances in which the word is spoken, most of which are spoken in an unironic fashion and has become nothing more than a joke that ran out of gas years ago.
The action is what continues to keep long-winded fans coming back after all this time, and considering the budget ballooned to a preposterous $340 million, one would hope this ludicrous number was worth it. You could make the argument that it was absolutely worth it as the action is plentiful, but at the same time, it doesn't feel distinct enough from previous instalments to the point where its becomes justified -- especially when Fast 9 cost $140 million less to make. There isn't anything inherinetly wrong with the action as it certainly keeps you entertained and serves as a fun break from the meaningless plot, but it also hurts the film as it consitenely reminds you what the film could've been if it was just this and nothing more. More is more is used sparingly nowadays as viewers prefer a steady balance between action and plot, but Fast and Furious is the perfect exception and should've stuck to its guns by giving audiences what they came to see: non-stop action.
Fast X attempted to return to its roots by giving audiences a more story-focused adventure, but it's hard to go back to your roots when the franchise has jumped the shark so many times that its origins are a fever dream to many. Vin Diesel and Jason Momoa do well in their respective pro and antagonist roles, but the film is, ironically, brought down by its lack of the one thing that turned Fast and Furious into a joke -- over-the-top, fun action.