Family (CREDIT: Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Momoa, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Sung Kang, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, Jason Statham, Daniela Melchior, Leo Abelo Perry, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno

Director: Louis Leterrier

Running Time: 141 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Flying Cars and Bullets

Release Date: May 19, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: We’re ten* films deep now in the Fast & Furious franchise (eleven if you count the spinoff), and things are getting pretty X-treme! Of course, you might well reasonably note that extremity was this series’ m.o. from the very beginning. But this is the first time that an “X” actually managed to sneak its way into the title. And that’s not the only unique bit of business. Usually these movies are pretty self-contained, and the plot is generally besides the point, but Fast X calls back directly to a previous adventure. Luckily for anyone who needs a refresher, there are plenty of flashbacks to Fast Five, when Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew pulled off a heist in Brazil against drug lord Hernan Reyes. Now Hernan’s eccentric and sadistic son Dante (Jason Momoa) is out for revenge. He prefers to make his victims suffer, and for someone who values family as much as Dom, there are innumerable ways to poke at that nerve.

Not Family … yet (CREDIT: Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures)

What Made an Impression?: I’ll get what I had a problem with out of the way, because it’s more fun to end on a happy note, and also because I mostly enjoyed this silly little action flick. There’s a lot of gun violence in this movie! That’s not atypical for a big budget PG-13 blockbuster, but if memory serves me correctly, it is much more excessive compared to Fast X‘s predecessors. There’s no lingering on the blood and guts, but ignoring those consequences is disturbing in its own way. I’m not condemning all cinematic gun violence, but it’s hard to stomach in this case because of how much it punctures the cartoonish status quo.

Other than that, I was able to embrace the fantasy as usual. And I wasn’t necessarily confident that that would be the case. For at least the last three films, F&F has been fighting against the struggle to continuously raise the apex of what’s possible in automotive stunts. How could they possibly keep getting away with this impossible task? And then suddenly, a new lawman shows up in the form of Aimes (Alan Ritchson), who is dead set on ending the free rein that Dom and company have always been granted. He even declares point blank, “How did we let this go on so long?” To which I responded, “Oh my God, it’s become self-aware.”

Despite that exhilarating turn, the meat and potatoes of Fast X are mostly what we’ve come to expect: every core character doing what we love them for, and every new character from the last movie being assimilated into the family. It’s unavoidably bloated, but bonkers enough to make it worthwhile. The conclusion particularly is filled with outrageous twists and reveals. Even more sequels have already been greenlit, so it’s no spoiler to say that there are go-for-broke teases of what’s to come. It follows a little too closely the MCU playbook of just being one long trailer for the next chapters, but the chaos we do get to see is memorable enough on its own. There’s still some gas left in the tank, even though it’s getting pretty weird.

Fast X is Recommended If You Like: Super-Size Casts

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Engines