Film Reviews

Fast X IMAX review: Dir. Louis Leterrier

You’d be forgiven for thinking that there was very little mileage left in the Fast and Furious franchise. After all, once a film series goes to outer space, where else is there left to go? With Fast 9: The Fast Saga having already explored that final frontier, there’s a foreboding sense that whatever comes next, it can’t possibly hit those heights again, literally or figuratively.

Fast X doesn’t necessarily try to out-do any of its predecessors in regards to original ideas, but it certainly maintains (and occasionally tops) the same level of preposterousness that the preceding 9 films have had in abundance. Intended as the first of a two (possibly three) part finale akin to that of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, there’s a sense of upping the dramatic stakes from the off, with the introduction of Jason Mamoa‘s outrageously camp villain Dante, who comes seeking revenge upon Dominic Toretto’s crew of misfit racing-drivers for the death of his father, drug lord Hernan Reyes (last seen meeting a timely demise in 2011’s Fast Five). Things get personal pretty quickly from there on in, with the crew scattered across the globe, now fugitives on the run after being framed for a terrorist attack orchestrated by Dante.

Separating the cast does overcomplicate and bloat proceedings, and whilst the characters remain as watchable as ever, there are certain story strands that are a lot more interesting than others. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris)’s team are mostly relegated to running about London and squabbling, whilst Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) spends most of the film incarcerated in a high-tech prison. Dom (Vin Diesel) takes centre stage as always, but even his mission to save the gang feels overlong and padded, and certainly could have benefitted from some minor cutting here and there. There’s too many characters vying for attention and not enough plot to go around, which certainly doesn’t help when old faces return to set-up an even bigger reunion for the upcoming sequel.

What’s even weirder though is how director Louis Leterrier still directs the whole shebang like he’s in some kind of rush and needs to be somewhere else. Despite the overlong feel of the film, there’s no pause for breath in the editing and chunks of dialogue feel like they’re being watched at 1.5 speed. Oft times it’s fine and barely noticeable, but there are a lot of long stretches throughout where nothing is happening bar a conversation between a few characters, and yet it feels utterly nauseating to watch.

None of this is helped by whole overly serious most of the cast treat everything. Even in its wackier, sillier moments, the cast and director all seem to be striving for drama, when in actual fact the ridiculous plot and situations are crying out for some levity. Only John Cena and Jason Mamoa seem to be on the same page, and whilst their appearances are more fleeting compared to the main players, their scenes certainly get the tone right. For the most part though, a lot of the character drama here is overwrought and unnecessarily dour.

The action set pieces thankfully enliven the whole affair, and to their credit, they are the kind of kinetic and daring sequences one has come to expect from the Fast and Furious series. The film does peak early in this respect – an earlier set piece involving a runway bomb through the streets of Rome proves pretty hard to beat, though the climactic car chase does almost pip it to the post (the IMAX presentation is particularly worthwhile for these set-pieces, especially in terms of the sound quality).

So is the Fast and Furious franchise running on empty? Judging by Fast X and with two more films yet to go, there is a sense that the series is almost ‘out of service’. For the most part, Fast X is mostly entertaining and delivers on the promise of high-octane, pedal-to-metal action one expects as a given from these films, even if the huge leaps of logic are enough to give even Dominic Toretto a tummy ache. The film may spin out slightly as a result of its laughable attempts to up the dramatic and emotional aspects, but at its core, there appears to be enough gas in the tank to ensure a fun upcoming finale.

Fast X is out in IMAX Cinemas now


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