The Fast and Furious franchise has so many twists and turns in its 20-plus year run and yet the series attempts to find ways to be even more ways to be as outlandish and insanely cartoonish than some of the previous efforts.
While this 10th entry doesn't change my view of F9, I can say that it slightly redeems itself, even though this series is definitely showing signs of wear and tear.
Vin Diesel's Dom Toretto and family are back and they're dealing with Jason Momoa's Dante Reyes, the son of the drug lord from Fast Five. Dante is seeking revenge against Toretto for the death of his father and their odyssey involves all of the typical elements we're used to seeing: Fast cars, shootouts, chases, explosions, one-liners, repeat.
Dom assembles his team once again including Letty (Michelle Rodriguez); Roman (Tyrese Gibson); Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges); Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel); his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster); Han (Sung Kang); and even his own kid, Brian a.k.a. Little B (Leo Abelo Perry). They're pretty much doing the same old, same old as in other movies but Little B gets in on the action.
John Cena returns as Dom's brother Jakob, who protects Little B, and they provide their own little plot thread that actually works. Both Cena and Perry get some well-earned comedic chops while they're on the road.
Brie Larson costars as the daughter of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and she helps guide Dom and crew on every step of Dante's whereabouts. Plus, Charlize Theron and Jason Statham play a role somewhere in the chaotic plot, but their roles are really more relegated to either exposition or fight scenes.
One of the things that has been hit or miss for me with the Fast and Furious movies is the fact that these movies know how ludicrous (no pun intended) they're willing to be and not give a second's thought. Physics seem more like guidelines. Logic seems more like a recommendation. Absurdity comes off as appreciated. In F9, a car went into space. Need I say more?
I know this seems like I'm making a major criticism, and at this point in the series, it's totally understandable and even deserving, but I have to say that Fast X held my attention in a way that the last two really didn't. Yes, the characters still survive those bombastic special effects sequences which would've killed half the MCU, but what happens in between is actually amusing. These movies still leave us scratching our heads at how these characters do risk elaborate death and yet we have to remember we're watching live-action cartoons at this point. The action is once again amped up to infinity, but bigger and louder doesn't always mean better. I think I had much more fun with the likes of John Wick: Chapter 4.
Momoa is the clear standout in this one as he's perhaps the main character who is embracing the goofiness with a great degree of wicked charisma and gusto. Any time he pops up on screen is a welcome.
There are characters from previous installments who return and will no doubt play a huge role in the 11th film. Unless you live under a rock, you probably already know who one of the returners is.
Overall, it's better than F9, but I'm wondering when this series will finally be self-conscious enough to know when it's running out of gas.
(Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material.)