It’s been over 20 years since the first Fast and Furious film was released. The world has changed dramatically, but the franchise hasn’t. Characters have come and gone, and it has been shaken by death, but the core of the series remains the same. Fast X is the latest instalment — Vin Diesel is back as Dominic Torreto, delivering sermons on how family is everything and upholding the values that make the street.
The car chases are as fun and fabulous as ever, even as their locations grow more and more absurd, and the plot plunges into ludicrous. A spherical bomb destroys Rome. And Portugal and London are mere playgrounds for Torreto, as he strives to save his ‘family’ from an enemy who will stop at nothing — Dante, who is played by the internet’s favourite fantasy man, Jason Momoa, of Game of Thrones and Aquaman fame.
Making 10 films of the same franchise, picking and choosing from a select group of possibilities for beloved characters who can only go in a limited number of directions, is no mean feat. But makers of the series, which has grossed over six billion dollars making it the eighth most successful film franchise in the world and Universal’s most successful, do it anyway.
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There are fans of the series who say that it took a turn for the worse after the death of Paul Walker, who played Diesel’s partner, Brian O’Connor. While there was a definitive shift after the death of Walker — the camaraderie between Diesel and Walker is arguably what made the series so popular — gave it heart.
It is probably true that there is a section of fans who no longer enjoy the films in the same way. Yet, the films have only been amped up since, perhaps to compensate for a loss that cannot be qualified. Fight sequences are flashier, the locations are more exotic, and enemies are more formidable. And in the case of Momoa, more flamboyant.
His caricature-like persona blurs and tempers Diesel’s Torreto. This is not due to any fault of Vin Diesel, but at the end of the day, we have been seeing Dominic Torreto for over two decades. As is the case with most franchises, he has undergone minimal character development.
Momoa’s Dante, however, is adept at cutting through the stream of characters one is used to. It is Dante’s film more than it is anyone else’s.
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A number of characters from the previous films make a return — Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw returns. The license plate of Shaw’s car reads ROAD R4GE. John Cena as Jakob embodies the dumb jock stereotype in the Fast and Furious context, and it makes him funny, earnest and so likeable. Both are signs of what works for the series — its absolute refusal to take itself seriously.
Charlize Theron is back as well, and Helen Mirren deigns to make a cameo. The star power of the Fast X ensures you can’t keep your eyes off the screen. Brie Larson also joins the ensemble this time.
While the latest instalment feels a tad dated, action films are always milked for what they’re worth. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a treat for devoted fans, or that new fans won’t be tempted to give the rest a watch.
(Edited by Theres Sudeep)