The Fast and Furious saga barrels towards its finale with Fast X, the penultimate entry in the long-running blockbuster franchise. While the globetrotting plot covers familiar ground, director Louis Leterrier delivers exhilarating practical action set pieces that provide a masterclass in physics-defying spectacle. Anchored by its diverse cast’s camaraderie, Fast X satisfies with operatic emotion and screen-rattling stunt work.
Amidst retirement in the Dominican Republic, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) gets drawn back into danger when cyberterrorist Dante (Jason Momoa) emerges with a personal vendetta. Teaming with old crew members Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and others, Dom mounts a desperate mission to stop Dante from acquiring a deadly technology that could lay waste to cities worldwide.
From desert races to Antarctic mountain chases, each elaborate sequence leans into the absurdity with wit and visual clarity. Leterrier impressively captures the logistics while highlighting practical stunt work over CGI. Standouts include a bridge jump utilizing a fiery wrecking ball as counterweight, and a climactic showdown with magnetized muscle cars. Even at its most far-fetched, the palpable cast chemistry sells the stakes.
At this late franchise stage, the screenplay themes get spelled out baldly. Every scene seems engineered to franchise callbacks or life lessons about family and loyalty. But thankfully the melodrama gets balanced by humor and charismatic performances. After 10 films together, the cast fake deep contemplation while clearly relishing these preposterous shared adventures.
Despite walking on autopilot dramatically, Diesel remains an engaging anchor to the Toretto family chronicles with his booming gravitas. And Rodriguez gives Letty welcome proactivity that meshes nicely with Diesel’s brooding stoicism. As new addition Dante, Jason Momoa leans into menacing snarls and sneers befitting the villain role. His scenes mocking Dom’s sanctimony amuse while also raising the personal stakes.
The film does make attempts at deeper characterization amidst the explosions. Exploring Dom’s doubts about fatherhood provides Diesel some paternal pathos to play, even if ultimately overshadowed by the breakneck plot momentum. Reteaming old friends like Sung Kang’s Han also elicits fan service excitement, despite minimal story logic.
Make no mistake though; Fast X exists foremost to deliver audacious automotive action extravaganzas. From a Rome race across sketchy scaffolding to a climax involving high-tech military subs, Leterrier chops the mayhem into digestible beats with spatial clarity. The director’s experience on prior franchise entries serves him well to balance fresh ideas and franchise callbacks.
Casual fans may find Fast X exhaustingly excessive in its 20-year culmination of references and plot retcons. But for those invested in this story of makeshift family, it offers the operatic emotional payoffs to match its practical stunt spectacle. By embracing the established formula rather than ignoring it, this penultimate chapter provides kinetic excitement befitting the saga’s big screen farewell ride.
Some implausible plot turns and thin characters can’t be ignored, but Fast X succeeds by honoring its outlandish roots. Director Louis Leterrier delivers no-nonsense action anchored with heart by the beloved ensemble. While narratively routine, the film recaptures the saga’s sense of fun and loyalty. For all its absurdity, Fast X reminds us of the simple joys of enjoying a preposterous blockbuster with friends before crossing the finish line.