Director: Louis Leterrier
Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson. Ludacris, Jason Momoa, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang. Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, Daniela Melchior, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Rita Moreno
Cert: 12A (tbc)
Running time: 141 mins
Revving Up the Franchise: Fast X Races to New Heights
Vin Diesel and his ever-growing “family” return for a tenth instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise, with the signature staples of speedy vehicles, increasingly outrageous stunts and epic punch-ups all very much present and correct. Conceived as the first half of a two-part finale, Fast X is a frankly obscene amount of fun, making it one of the best films in the series so far.
This time round, Dom (Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and their team of fast-car enthusiasts – tech expert Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), motor-mouth Roman (Tyrese Gibson), hacking genius Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuelle) and expert drifter Han (Sung Kang) – are lured into a trap by Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), who’s seeking revenge for the events of Fast Five, when Dom and Brian (Paul Walker) dragged his family vault through the streets of Rio (helpfully repeated, in case you missed that one). Accordingly, Dante stages an elaborate homage by rolling a giant neutron bomb through the streets of Rome, the fallout of which essentially frames Dom and his team as terrorists.
Pursued by various forms of law enforcement, including The Agency they usually work for, Dom and his team find themselves in different parts of the globe: Dom heads to Rio to try and track down Dante and ends up in a familiar-looking street race; Letty is captured by police and ends up sharing a black site prison with arch enemy Cipher (Charlize Theron); and Tej, Roman, Ramsey and Han head for London to call in some favours, while “Uncle Jakob” (John Cena) is tasked with keeping Dom and Letty’s adorable young son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry) one step ahead of Dante’s men.
Jason Momoa proves an inspired choice as Dante, and he throws himself into the role with great gusto, clearly enjoying every second of it. As a result, he’s a flambouyant, somewhat androgynous and delightfully camp villain, whose delivery of the line, “I’m Dante, enchanté” is worth the price of admission alone. There are other new characters this time round too – including Brie Larsen as the daughter of Agency honcho Mr Nobody, rising star Daniela Melchior as a street racer with a connection to Dom’s past and Alan Ritchson as new Agency head Ames – but they’re all left floundering in Momoa’s wake when it comes to scene-stealing and creating memorable moments (it’s hard to beat Momoa having tea with two dead henchmen in that regard).
In terms of the rest of the cast, they all know their characters inside out at this point, and their easy rapport reflects that – thankfully their back-and-forth banter has had a bit of a touch up since the dismal dialogue of the previous movie. On a similar note, it’s pleasing to see that the problems with John Cena’s character have been fixed – this time round his Jakob is much closer to Cena’s established comedy screen persona, rather than the po-faced hunk of no fun that he was last time round.
Over the course of the last few movies, the series has become known for surprise guest appearances from previous stars. That’s the case here too, although fans of Jason Statham – who features heavily in the trailer – should prepare themselves for disappointment, as he’s effectively only in two scenes.
The key question, however, is whether or not the film delivers in the outstanding stunts department, and on that score, the answer is a resounding yes. Director Louis Leterrier delivers spectacular set-piece after spectacular set-piece, with stunts so jaw-droppingly outrageous, they will make you laugh out loud.
On that score, the early sequence in Rome is something of an all-timer, particularly when it comes to a moment of pure genius that involves a crane. Other highlights include Dom casually driving his car out of an aeroplane and an object lesson in what to do if you’re being chased by two helicopters.
Leterrier also proves he can stage a punch-up with the best of them – the inevitable scrap between Letty and Cipher is yet another highlight, vicious and thrilling in equal measure. In addition, he gets the tone exactly right and maintains a suitably breakneck pace throughout, ensuring the film never drags, even at a posterior-troubling two hours and twenty minutes.
In short, this is a thoroughly entertaining entry in the Fast and Furious series that will leave you wanting more. Oh, and stick around for a crowd-pleasing mid-credits sting, if you like that sort of thing.