BY ISAIAH RIDLEY
Most cinematic franchises rarely reach 10 installments without having a passionate and loyal audience of some sort. There are certain anomalies, for example horror icons such as Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Pinhead, that have reached 10 features.
Admittedly, no one could’ve foreseen the success of the “Fast and Furious” saga entering the stratosphere with the success it has experienced. I’ve remained consistent with my stance of how the earlier films weren’t my cup of tea. Racing, automobile lingo, showcasing fancy state-of-the-art vehicles never did anything for me as I’m not a fan of anything involving racing.
Once the series deviated from racing and ventured into heist-centered storylines, over-the-top action, thrilling stunts and memorable characters, I found myself on board with the saga. The main reason is how it reminded me of the ’80s and ’90s action fests from my childhood. The creators of the “Fast Saga” series understand what the audience yearns for in terms of entertainment, excitement and fun.
“Fast X” has the audience witness the return of its ensemble cast of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Charlize Theron, Jordana Brewster, John Cena and Jason Statham reprising their iconic characters with Jason Momoa portraying the main antagonist, Dante Reyes.
An enemy ghost from Dominic Toretto’s past emerges, seeking revenge for the heist of his family’s fortune and the death of his father. This is the overall plot for the entire duration of the film. It’s straight to the point, formulaic and requires no deep critical thinking in examining hidden themes or philosophical concepts.
I can admit that the storyline of “Fast and Furious” ended perfectly with “Furious 7” serving as a heartwarming and emotional tribute to the late Paul Walker’s final performance. His absence from the later stories and how it paints the family unit remains fractured to a degree. Finding it within yourself to move past the loss by focusing on the present becomes problematic. These later “Fast and Furious” installments aren’t the same without Walker’s involvement. Either way, the story does go on, and there’s a myriad of fun for the audience.
“Fast X” begins with rapid-fire, frantic and over-the-top action without letting its foot off the metaphorical pedal. Diesel, Rodriguez, Gibson, Ludacris, Statham and Theron exhibit magnetic chemistry with humorous, heartfelt and the occasional dramatic sequence that isn’t afraid of venturing into serious territory. However, per usual in relation to these films, expecting elite dramatic acting isn’t what the audience comes for.
The standout performance goes to Momoa as Dante Reyes. He incorporates the perfect amount of over-the-top, cringy, cheesy and quirky behavior that’s unsettling and amusing. One scene that I won’t articulate in detail with major or minor spoiler revelations, is random to the point of definitively being creepy, unsettling and yet quite comical at the same time. Once he elevates into a form of sinister acting, he shines in that department. These are the roles Momoa needs to continue portraying. He was simply a ball of contagious energy, and I loved every single second of his performance. I legitimately cannot wait to see what his eventual return brings with the next two parts of the saga.
“Fast and Furious” is always about the action, and there’s a sea of endless mayhem that borders on complete absurdity, insanity and laws of physics violating ridiculousness that provides the meaning of suspending your disbelief. Every sequence remains fresh and exciting as the next.
No matter how many times I watch the later films, I never tire of them, whatsoever. It details the quality of the story and state-of-the-art visual effects, action and intensity where it still manages to remain fresh. “Fast X” also provides one of the rare moments of self-awareness of not taking itself seriously.
Other than that, “Fast X” is tied with “Fast Five” as my favorites of the franchise. These films are what going to the cinema is all about, presenting actual escapism and fun. A 10/10 thrilling adventure from beginning to end. There’s intense explosive action, hard-hitting hand-to-hand combat, humor and unexpected surprises for all to enjoy. There’s a scene during the credits that offers more excitement into the future. “Fast X” is highly recommended and fun all around.
Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy’s Cinematic Escape on YouTube.