Over many missions and against impossible odds, Dom Toretto and his family have outsmarted, out-nerved and outdriven every foe in their path. Now, they confront the most lethal opponent they’ve ever faced: A terrifying threat emerging from the shadows of the past who’s fueled by blood revenge, and who is determined to shatter this family and destroy everything—and everyone—that Dom loves, forever.
It’s not that any one character gets stuck with nothing to do — quite the contrary, screenwriters Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin clearly make a concerted effort to give each of the regulars their own subplot — there’s simply not enough track for most of them to get to full speed. Naturally, Dom gets the most complete story, going head-to-head against an unpredictable psycho who’s dead set on making his life hell.
Momoa’s Dante is very obviously designed to be Dom’s Joker, a flamboyant supervillain who’s always two steps ahead of the hero (he even drives a purple car). It may have begun as an attempt to repeat the success of Heath Ledger’s iconic performance in The Dark Knight, but Momoa overshoots it and lands somewhere between Jack Nicholson and Mark Hamill, which turns out to be a terrific fit for this bonkers universe. Momoa is plainly having a ball in the role, and that fun is contagious.
True to form for a series about a family of outlaws that collects new members like a Katamari ball, Fast X juggles a massive ensemble. Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is now focused on fatherhood, raising the precocious preteen Little B (Leo Abelo Terry) alongside his wife and partner in crime, Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez). The rest of the gang, however, is still on call at The Agency, an international spy organization that is, for all intents and purposes, S.H.I.E.L.D. from the Marvel Universe. When a mission goes south, the entire Toretto crew ends up on the run from the authorities, as well as from the author of their doom, cackling sociopath Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa). A high-stakes globe-trotting adventure ensues in which our heroes’ driving skills and personal ethos are tested, strange alliances are formed and shattered, and — needless to say — a whole lot of stuff goes “boom.”
Everyone else suffers a bit from the need to squeeze their shtick into the runtime. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) get the most complete subplot ,and their chemistry is as playful as ever, but tech expert Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) is still mostly an exposition machine and recently resurrected cool guy Han (Sung Kang) mostly feels like a tagalong. John Cena returns as Dom’s estranged brother, Jakob, but this time around he’s basically just playing John Cena, with all traces of his character’s edges completely filed down.
Still, one can’t escape the impression that Fast has gotten too big for its own good, that maybe the franchise has reached the point where it would be better off branching its ensemble into their own films before reuniting Avengers-style. Or, if they must do a three-part finale, it might have been a good idea to keep a few characters on the sidelines this time around so that everyone present could have a little more space to open up the throttle.
Multiple supporting players from previous films turn up for a scene or two, plus there are new characters who we’re supposed to get attached to like Brie Larson’s secret agent Tess and Diana Melchior’s street racer Isabel, but they do not receive enough time to make a strong impression. In the plus column, Rodriguez does get her contractual one barn-burning brawl per picture, and there’s still a special room waiting in heaven for whatever genius figured out that Letty’s thing should be motorcycles.