When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theaters in early 2020, one of the first big movies to be delayed was F9: the fast saga, the ninth entry in the Fast & Furious franchise. When this movie finally hit theaters after more than a year of delay, it was reminiscent of not only the specific delights of the super-powered street racing franchise, but also the insane fun of the cinematic experience on the big screen: Here Are Cars tricked out who defiantly refused to obey physics, and gigantic dudes with necks and biceps who seemed to do the same. The film’s dialogue consisted of inscrutable technobabble, goofy comedic sidebars, snarling threats, and zen koans for morons about the meaning of family. The movie was silly, sentimental, soapy, and downright ridiculous. And after a year of watching small movies on small screens, seeing it on a giant screen with an unruly crowd was also kind of a blast.
Two years later, the sequel x fast offers something of the opposite experience: it’s overdone, overdirected, overlong and mostly just overdone – a painful reminder of what a bloated Hollywood sequel can be.
The joy of fast furious The franchise can be attributed not only to its portrayal of muscle cars that denies physics and looks like a cartoon that can jump, flip and fly at the will of their drivers, but also to the earnest candor with which the action is present. The films were self-aware, yes, and often self-consciously silly, but they also took their supercar antics and macho bravado seriously. The movies might have been jokes, but they didn’t act that way.
Much of the franchise’s tone and tenor can be credited to director Justin Lin, who helped reinvent the series, which began as a mid-budget street racing ripoff of the surf-crime movie. Breaking point-In plot structure termsthey are almost exactly the same movie– into something far grander. Lin endowed the franchise’s hot rods with superpowers and expanded the series’ ambitions, elevating it to a kind of spy series closer to Mission: Impossible and James Bond than, say, Biker Boyz.
Lin directed the fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth episodes of the series and was to direct x fast Also. But after apparently to hit with star Vin Diesel, he left the director’s chair to hand it over to director Louis Leterrier of Transporter movies.
Lin’s films were light, fun, and at times almost sweet: Leterrier, by contrast, seems determined to subdue viewers. The action scenes are louder and noisier, but lack the spark of wit and exuberance that best defines the series. The comic antics are more forced, less funny. The serious but harmless macho bravado that defined the characters has been replaced with something both darker and more obviously self-aware. Lin’s Fast films projected a kind of childlike innocence and toybox joy. x faston the other hand, is a film that makes the joke of the Fast & Furious franchise, to its detriment.
This is especially true when it comes to Jason Momoa’s performance as the villainous Dante Reyes, the son of deposed drug lord Hernan Reyes from the fifth episode. Momoa clearly had fun in the role, and his appearances inevitably liven up this otherwise mediocre film. But Momoa’s decision to lean into the character’s winking absurdity reflects the film’s fundamental problem: It plays more like an overloaded parody of the fast furious frankness than any of Lin’s lightweight entries.
x fast is ugly, thundering, pseudo-camp, almost on the level of Joel Schumacher 1990s entries in the Batman franchisebut without the deconstructive and counter-cultural joy.
It doesn’t help that the cinematic fundamentals are weak: returning characters don’t have much to do, and new faces, including Alan Ritchson as a comically over-muscled spy agent and Brie Larson as that daughter of Mr. Nobody, don’t make much of an impact. DDespite a reported budget of $350 million, the action sequences are stellar with third-rate CGI: the story supposedly takes place in locations around the world. But so many of the environments are so clearly computer-generated that it looks more like they were shot entirely in front of a green screen.
At the start of the film, the villainous character of Momoa declares his intention not only to kill but also to inflict pain. In theory, he was talking about the show’s protagonists, but after going through this raging boredom, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was talking about the audience instead.