Tag Archives: fast and furious

Review: ‘Fast X,’ Making You Suffer

Vin Diesel leads the all-star cast. 

Loudly proclaiming, early and often, that’s it ‘all about family,’ Fast X proceeds to dismantle that bromide, bit by excruciating digital bit. Calling back to and revolving around key events in Fast Five (2011) from the adult perspective of Dante (Jason Momoa), the son of the earlier film’s principal antagonist, drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), the film imagines that Dante has been plotting revenge ever since and now intends to executive his vengeance upon them by MAKING THEM SUFFER (cue evil laugh). 

By “them,” of course, the vengeful Dante plans to attack Dom (Vin Diesel) and his extended family of blood relatives and close criminal associates, who now number into the thousands, or at least to the point that Dom embraces every survivor of his kooky driving, shooting, and killing exploits as a member of his family and thus deserving of the kind of protection that only he can provide (cue 1,000-yard stare). 

What follows is a blitzkrieg of images, hasty assembled into something resembling a narrative, and clearly meant to be taken dead serious, judging by the tone set by Vin Diesel, who exudes the same hulking menace, whether he’s crouching over his young son or ignoring the property damage he has caused or the enemies he has murdered to protect those that he loves. 

The decision to circle back to Fast Five as a jumping-off point for the story is just the first in a series of bad decisions. Directed by Justin Lin, the film was the first in the series to leave behind entirely the constaints of time, space, common sense, and the laws of gravity. By embracing its entirely ridiculous excesses and having fun with them, acknowledging its own Looney Tunes mentality, the film simultaneously declared it would henceforth be making up its own rules and establishing its own (un)natural laws. 

The films that have followed, especially after Lin departed the franchise after Fast & Furious 6, steadily embraced that wildly individualistic style with diminishing effect, especially noticeable after writer Chris Morgan departed after The Fate of the Furious (2017). Even with Lin’s return to the helm in F9 (2021), the series was reduced to treading water and felt desperate and ever more outlandish and untethered to any sort of guiding narrative throughline.

That continues under the direction of Louis Leterrier, a journeymen helmer who has made seven previous action movies, none that are especially memorable. (Lin before work on this film before departing shortly after production began due to “creative differences.” Note that Lin co-wrote the script.) From the outside, Leterrier appears to be a hard-working sort of filmmaker who gets the job done, on time and on budget, but without much noticeable flair or hint of personal style. (He also claims to have re-written substantial portions of the script on his flight to begin work.) As to the acting, well, the franchise is a graveyard for Academy Award-winning actors (Rita Moreno, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson) who, like Leterrier, get the job done (i.e. say their lines) without leaving any discernible marks. 

At the public preview screening I attended, Jason Momoa’s performance as a supremely flamboyant metrosexual villain played extremely well with the crowd. Personally, I could not quite fathom the reason for his character to lean heavily on behavior that I thought was outdated and (borderline) offensive. He practically twirls his moustache. (Cue evil laugh again.) 

Perhaps I’m missing the point (or the humor) entirely. In any event, it’s in an entirely different style from all the other performances, which makes it stand out; it’s as though Momoa thinks he’s in a comedy, while everyone else plays it as a family drama.

At best, he’s a distraction from a lessening spectacle. More does not always mean better, as painfully demonstrated in Fast X. 

The film opens in Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding cities on Friday, May 19, via Universal Pictures. For more information about the film, visit the official site.

Review: ‘Fast & Furious 6’ Flies Confidently and Absurdly Into Superhero Territory

'Fast & Furious 6' (Universal Pictures)
‘Fast & Furious 6’ (Universal Pictures)
Dispensing with the boundaries of time and space — and breaking loose from the shackles of gravity and logic — allows the latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise to bound confidently, if absurdly, into superhero territory.

Consider: superheroes can fly through the air; ordinary mortals cannot. Superheroes can return from the dead; ordinary mortals, even ones driving wicked fast motor vehicles, cannot.

Fast & Furious 6 is based on the absurd proposition that Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who died several sequels ago, has returned from the dead and is now a member of a gang of thieves who drive very, very quickly and are quite angry to boot. She has amnesia, of course, and no longer recognizes Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the former love of her life, who has moved on reluctantly and learned to love again, or at least allowed Brazilian model / some kind of armed agent Elana (Elsa Pataky) to warm his bed.

Dominic and his driving / thieving pals Brian (Paul Walker), Han (Sung Kang), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) are living in retirement, reaping the reward of the millions of dollars they stole / earned by liberating a steel safe, tearing up the streets and businesses of Rio de Janeiro and pretty much ensuring that the Brazilian government would be happy to lock them up forever. The fugitives consider each other to be family, though, and they all come running when Dom whistles at the possibility that Letty is really, actually alive; after all, ‘you don’t leave family behind,’ which is a very popular sentiment among moviegoers and driving / thieving / rich people alike.

The gang has been reconvened at the behest of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a lone guerilla in camouflage pants who represents the government in some behalf, somehow still gainfully employed after the disaster that was the previous episode of the series. Well, not quite “lone” this time, because he’s joined by his newly faithful sidekick Riley (Gina Carano), and I do mean sidekick; she can punch and shoot guns as well as anybody in camouflage pants, but her distinguishing skill is her capacity to kick people into submission.

The rival gang of villains mirrors the heroes in appearance, as one of the good guys helpful points out, and is led by the shady Shaw (Luke Evans), who wants to steal a computer chip worth billions from the government and/or quasi-governmental entity. The chip’s theft would be devastating to the nations of the world and upset the balance of power and/or would put Apple and Microsoft out of business; the explanation is tossed off quickly and is really not germane to this discussion, because mainly what the movie wants and needs are excuses for people to fight and wisecrack and drive stylish cars very quickly and blow things up and smash vehicles and destroy property and make some more jokes and maybe flirt a little and kill people without dwelling too long on the dead bodies and maybe quite possibly and casually kill innocent civilians but not acknowledge anything more than — wow! Doesn’t that look cool! And, hey! Isn’t that funny? And, oh no, he didn’t! Snap!

As popcorn entertainment, Fat and Furious Sex — or whatever it’s called, the main titles reduce it to Furious 6 — is a lot of hot air, recyles far too many shopworn cliches, and is faithful only to the modern action insistence on cutting in harmony with the chaos method, which prevents easy comprehension of geography and danger. On the other hand, that’s all it wants to be; despite the repeated references to family and the yearning to return home expressed in the script by franchise stalwart Chris Morgan, this is a movie that is built around the action sequences, and director Justin Lin fully exploits the budget that has been accorded to him.

It’s a knowingly absurd film that always keeps a straight face. Fast & Furious 6 doesn’t need to wink at its audience; it’s not a secret that action junkies crave bigger and more boundless experiences, and so much the better if they’re delivered with a friendly sense of humor and a reckless disregard for reality.

Fast & Furious 6 opens wide across the Metroplex on Friday, May 24.