There are so many franchises and cultural touchstones that many people can agree (or agree to disagree) on, and the Fast And The Furious franchise is definitely one of them. You know how you sometimes miss the train leaving the station on something that becomes very popular and then you kind of forget to catch up with it until it is sort of passed you by and everyone’s talking about the finale? For me, this series falls into that category. Me, a perpetual fan in a theater full of fans… as a non-fan.
I am not against these movies at all. Let’s say that upfront. I even have a full breakdown of the films so that you can catch up and be ready even if you are like me and missed the train too. I love escapism and even if a movie isn’t my thing, I love that it is someone else’s. That is what fandom is all about. We all have our “things”. Though as a “non-fan” of the movies, it is tough for me to review FastX fully for a couple of reasons:
- I have no idea who half of the characters were.
- Even when I bought into the synergy of the action on screen, I was left out of the energy the audience was feeling being long haul fans. Which felt really awkward and made the normally amazing collective audience experience feel sort of uncomfortable.
- As a parent and someone who is hyper aware of gun violence triggers I was wholly unready for the onslaught of military style automatic weapons being used. This did not seem yo be an issue for most, but if you are sensitive to it and not fully invested in the story, be aware that it may be off putting.
Let me dive deeper into why this one was hard as a non-fan
First, the characters.
For the most part they establish a lot of the relationships pretty quickly, and you can kind of gather some of the history without it needing to be said. So many of the moments that made the audience cheer or drove plot forward were not explained in any way or referenced. I needed a serious introduction to follow this large cast a long history over the previous nine films. I wasn’t caught up. It was on me, but it did affect my enjoyment level.
Second, I love the collective audience experience.
It is part of why I love going to the theater. Communal emotions experienced in an audience is a big reason why I love going to the movies. It was so great to be in a theater that was packed and have the audience audibly gasp, or burst into applause (which they did THREE times at my screening). Unfortunately, if you were not in the know as to what was going on, you missed it and did not understand why everyone was cheering. Which felt incredibly uncomfortable. It made me curious to know why they were excited, but also feel too awkward to ask.
Third, I get that it is an action film, but…
I am not naïve to the level of action, fast, cars, fight sequences, and violence that these movies are somewhat known for. I was well aware of what I was getting into. But at some point, it went past a line with the guns. So much so, that by the time the post credit scene came up (there is only one) and it was set in a theater, I became extremely nervous that they were about to show gunfire in a theater to a movie theater full of people. Perhaps fans of the franchise are used to this sort of gunfire and are slightly desensitized to it, but as a non-fan, I wish they had maybe run this past a test audience first and made sure that they were being responsible and the excessive amount of automatic weapon fire they showed. As I said before, most of my theater did not seem at all upset about it, so perhaps it was just me. That being said, it is a warning that I just want to pass along to anyone else that might also have this sensitivity.
Will a non-fan enjoy it?
Overall the director Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans, The Incredible Hulk) did an amazing job putting a fun ride together. Some of the fight sequences with top tier (ummm, hello Michelle Rodriguez and Charlize Theron!) and as always they brought fantastic car scenes. There were plenty of moments that were great to watch and really felt like you might be part of the family. I thoroughly enough Jason Momoa is all of his Joker-esque chaotic energy. He made for a very unpredictable and often times inappropriately funny villain. As a person with many fandoms, I am always drawn to any movie that has any of my favorite actors in them. This one is no different and is chock-full of some of my favorite performers. I simply could not wait to see them show up on the screen and do some awesome action. Brie Larson and John Cena being two of my favorites are enough to make me buy a ticket despite my lack of knowledge of the franchise. Unfortunately, since I am about nine movies behind in this franchise, all I saw were their other characters. To the point that when the movie was over the first thing that I said was, “is this a multi-verse spinoff?”
As a fan, I understand what it feels like to have people “not get” things that I’m really into. They don’t see the value or the entertainment, and what I find to be spectacular. I am not in the business of knocking down anybody’s fandoms, this just isn’t one of mine. I have only seen one other movie, and does the filmmakers try their best to keep the plot moving in a way that might be easy enough to follow. If you were a mild fan, if you haven’t really seen much getting up to this movie, it will definitely be difficult to know all of the nuance of the many references to the past movies that this one is connected to.
What is the movie about?
Fast X, the tenth film in the Fast & Furious Saga, launches the final chapters of one of cinema’s most storied and popular global franchises, now in its third decade and still going strong with the same core cast and characters as when it began. Over many missions and against impossible odds, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) 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. In 2011’s Fast Five, Dom and his crew took out nefarious Brazilian drug kingpin Hernan Reyes and decapitated his empire on a bridge in Rio De Janeiro. What they didn’t know was that Reyes’ son, Dante (Aquaman’s Jason Momoa), witnessed it all and has spent the last 12 years masterminding a plan to make Dom pay the ultimate price. Dante’s plot will scatter Dom’s family from Los Angeles to the catacombs of Rome, from Brazil to London and from Portugal to Antarctica. New allies will be forged and old enemies will resurface. But everything changes when Dom discovers that his own 8-year-old son (Leo Abelo Perry, Black-ish) is the ultimate target of Dante’s vengeance.
Directed by Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans, The Incredible Hulk), Fast X stars returning cast members Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Jason Statham, John Cena and Scott Eastwood, with Oscar® winner Helen Mirren and Oscar® winner Charlize Theron. The film also features an extraordinary new cast including Oscar® winner Brie Larson as Tess, a rogue representative from the Agency; Alan Richtson (Reacher) as Aimes, the new head of the Agency who doesn’t hold the same fondness for Dom’s crew as his predecessor, Mr. Nobody; Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad) as a Brazilian street racer with a powerful tie to Dom’s past; and legendary Oscar® winner Rita Moreno as Dom and Mia’s Abuelita Toretto.
The End of the Road Begins Friday.
FAST X – Only in Theaters this Friday #FASTX