Fast X

Posted on May 18, 2023 at 5:10 pm

B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action, language, and some suggestive material
Profanity: Strong language, including a child using the s-word
Alcohol/ Drugs: Alcohol and brief humorous drug use
Violence/ Scariness: Extended action, peril, and violence, some disturbing and grisly images, very sad death of a major character
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: May 19, 2023
Date Released to DVD: August 7, 2023
Copyright Universal 2023

I’d love to talk to the person whose job is Googling or visiting some of the world’s iconic locations and then imagining how they can be trashed with car chases and explosions. Ten movies in (with apparently at least two more to go), the “Fast and Furious” series that began with a comparatively modest story about street racing has morphed into one of the most successful film franchises of all time, with a complicated trajectory and a lot of characters going undercover to chase Mcguffins for the CIA, but never wasting much time on whether the plot or the physics make sense. As a character says, “If it violates the laws of God and gravity, they did it twice.”

Next to the chases and explosions, the most creative part of the series was stripping down the original title, “The Fast and the Furious,” so that now part one of what is supposed to be the final saga is simply “Fast X.” They have to stop now, or the only title they will be able to use is just “FF.”

In order of importance to the filmmakers and the audience:

1. Let’s literally cut to the chase, or chases. Many, many chases and races. Many fabulous locations including Rome and Portugal. Bridges, helicopters, Much hitting and smashing through various barriers, some amphibious many ticking remote controlled bombs, one gigantic bomb sphere that looks like the rock that chased Indiana Jones in the first film crossed with the Death Star. Lots of fight scenes including two of the toughest women in film: Michelle Rodriguez as Letty and Charlize Theron as former and perhaps future supervillain Cipher, who shows up on Dom’s doorstep because “the enemy of my enemy….”

2. With so much star power on the side of Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel, occasionally adding slight movement to the one basic facial expression that signifies approval and determination), the villain in these movies has to be not just over the top but over the top of the top, doing a triple gainer, and then coming down to the top of the top again. Jason Momoa does all of this and more as the most completely bats times coo coo-bananas bad guy since Jack Nicholson as the Joker in “Batman,” with a touch of Jim Carrey as the Riddler and Heath Ledger as the Joker added for spice. Anyone remember the villain from #5? Anyone? It was Brazilian drug dealer Herman Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), who was killed at the end of that film. We get a retcon flashback here to learn that Reyes had a son named Dante, and that he importantly told Dante that killing opponents was not as important as torturing them by hurting those they love. Dom loves a lot of people. More than racing cars, his sense of himself is entirely based on his ability to keep them safe. As they say, this time it’s personal. Dante is the most dangerous of all because he has no normal bad guy goal like making money or amassing power. He just wants to destroy people and for that he cannot be intimidated, redirected, or persuaded.

3. The fans will enjoy many, many references and callbacks to the earlier films including everyone making fun of Roman (Tyrese Gibson) for not being very smart or super-good at anything There are also knowing winks at some of the film’s conventions, like those in law enforcement who initially come after Dom’s found family for breaking the law ending up on his side (Brian, Elena, Jacob), and many nods to the past nine films like nitrous oxide push, the return of various characters (Han/Deckard remix), the re-appearance of the “God’s Eye” (the ultimate McGuffin) and, a deeper cut, computer whiz Ramsey suddenly knowing about cars. There’s also something that almost rises to the level of a theme of children, including adult children, trying to please or carry on the work of their fathers, including Dante, Dom’s son “Little B” (for Brian, played in the earlier films by the late Paul Walker), and Brie Larson as the daughter of the mysterious spy Mr. Nobody, played in the earlier films by Kurt Russell but not in this one — I predict that he will be back in part 2.

4. Stakes: The very qualities that make Momoa’s Dante a great movie villain ramps up the stakes in a way that some viewers may find uncomfortably, even distractingly, transcends the genre. Usually, in these films, the McGuffin concept is quickly explained as something critical our team needs to get away from the bad guys and then we’re on to the chase and explosions and jokes about Roman. And the bad guy usually wants something evil but rational, like money or world domination or revenge. But, as they say, “this time it’s personal.” When the villain is just in it to mess with everyone, to make things as emotionally devastating as possible, even the paper-thin characters, only slightly more fleshed out than the thingamabob everyone’s chasing after, we can’t help making an emotional connection that may interfere with the fun of the race and chase scenes.

5. There’s a surprise cameo I won’t spoil. And I don’t think anyone anticipated this one: “Fast X” features four Oscar winners, Brie Larson, Dame Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, and Charlize Theron, bringing their A game as always. I could happily see a whole movie about any of their characters and the way things are going, that just might happen.

Parents should know that this film includes non-stop peril, action, and violence with many (mostly faceless) unnamed characters injured and killed and large-scale mayhem with crashed cars, bombs, fire, and explosions. Characters use strong language (including a child), drink alcohol, and briefly use drugs.

Family discussion: How do Dom’s, Little B’s, Tess’s, and Dante’s relationships with their fathers affect their life choices? Should Dom have let Roman lead the group? Who would you pick for your found family?

If you like this, try: the entire “Fast and Furious” series

Related Tags:

 

Action/Adventure DVD/Blu-Ray movie review Movies -- format Scene After the Credits Series/Sequel

Furious 7

Posted on April 4, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Copyright Universal 2015
Copyright Universal 2015

Who would have picked the Fast & Furious series as the one that would defy the odds and just keep getting better? In part that is because the first one was not very good.

And the second wasn’t either. It didn’t even have Vin Diesel. And then there was that crazy detour chronologically and geographically with “Tokyo Drift.”

But somewhere around the fourth or fifth one they made two important decisions. They jettisoned any vestigial commitment to believability in storylines. And they tossed out any thought of complying with the laws of physics. In this seventh and last film, twelve years after the first one, there are so many flying cars amid the chases, explosions, and assault weapons it might as well be titled “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang.”

Okay, the cars don’t actually fly, but they hurtle through the air.

Inspired by a magazine article about street racers, the series has morphed into a sort of “Mission Impossible.” The lovable band of rogues is now on the right side of the law, not because it is the right side, because they would not be rogues anymore, but because of some personal threat or affront, which is what makes them lovable. “I don’t have friends,” says the leader of the pack Dom (Vin Diesel). “I have family.” And those who live their lives a quarter mile at a time, now expanded to include anyone who shares their ineffable coolness and unconditional commitment, qualifies as family.

The talking and the acting and the story aren’t very good, and the comic relief (mostly courtesy of Tyrese Gibson) is weak at best, but that’s not why we’re here, now, is it? It does not have a plot, just a McGuffin of a plot-ish, concerning that most venerable of action-franchise go-tos. The bad guy our heroes took down at the end of #6 turns out to have a brother who is (a) determined to get revenge by killing every one of our group, (b) trained in special ops as a former government assassin with a special affection for explosives, and (c) he is Jason Statham. He even beats up FBI agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), who by now has become a sort of unofficial member of the group and kills another member. “No more funerals,” everyone agrees, except of course for Statham’s character.

Like characters in a fairy tale or a video game they have a series of tasks to accomplish in order to achieve their goal of taking out the bad guy. They have to rescue an extremely hot hacker from a supervillain with infinite access to armored vehicles and assault weapons, including armed drones. They have to retrieve her super-duper thing she invented, which is only on a hard drive in the — of course — super-duper car owned by a prince and stored in the upper stories of a skyscraper. And then they have to get the bad guy, involving a fight that comes down to mano a manly manly mano.

Okay, now that’s out of the way and we can get to the flying cars. This is a movie that has cars parachuting out of a plane. Let’s say that again. Cars parachute out of a plane. A guy gets stuck in a bus teetering over the edge of a cliff and I won’t tell you what happens next except to say it is awesome times two. There are big arms, deep voices, crazy chases, girls in very skimpy clothes, heavy artillery, crazier chases, and did I mention the cars jumping out of the plane? There’s some romance, though the only thing cheesier than the brother of the bad guy coming back for revenge storyline is the amnesia storyline, not forgetting the pregnancy she is too noble to tell him about storyline. But the action scenes are cool and the tribute to the late Paul Walker at the end is genuinely touching. Plus, cars jump out of a plane. Bang bang bang bang.

Parents should know that this film has non-stop, intense action sequences with peril and violence, some strong language, beer drinking, and some skimpy clothes and sexual references.

Family discussion: How do the characters measure loyalty? What do you think about the way they handled the real life tragic death of one of the series’ stars?

If you like this, try: the rest of the series

Related Tags:

 

Action/Adventure Series/Sequel

Battle: Los Angeles

Posted on March 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Destined to be remembered primarily as yet another step toward closing the gap between games and movies, the essence of “Battle: Lost Angeles” is a lot of boom-boom and a bunch of “ooo-rah.” And essence is all it is; no room here for anything but action. That’s a good thing because every time they start talking, you hope for the chases and explosions to start up again.

We see that the world is under attack and then we see 24 hours earlier, just enough time for brief introductions to the characters we’ll be following. Come on, say it along with me! Seen-it-all and seen-too-much vet on his last assignment, still struggling with survivor guilt over the men who died on his watch, innocent from the sticks whose mother signed for him to enlist at 17, guy about to get married, Navy corpsman earning his American citizenship and hoping to become a doctor, team leader just out of Officers Training School and about to become a father, etc. etc. It doesn’t matter much because pretty soon they will all be wearing so much gear and running around so fast we will hardly be able to tell them apart.

At first, it appears to be meteor showers that for some reason were undetected until they were about to crash off the coast of California and some other regions. But then we learn that the objects hurtling toward earth are slowing on descent; they are mechanical. And then stuff starts blowing up in a “textbook military operation” from another planet. And they have all the intel. We know nothing about who they are, what they want, what weapons they have, and basically, how to stop them from the complete annihilation that appears to be their goal. Troops are mobilized and deployed, with circumstances changing so quickly around them that quickly they are providing more information and support than they are getting. Our group is originally sent to rescue a small group of civilians and get them out of the way before US forces bomb the city to eradicate the enemy. But things are far worse than they thought. Contrary to their briefing, the aliens are attacking by air as well as ground. Their mission becomes survival, recon, and then out and out combat.

It tries to be “Independence Day” crossed with “Black Hawk Down.” It doesn’t come close to either.  It’s howlingly bad in places, with clunky construction and ham-handed attempts to insert moments of drama in the midst of all the action (one of the men just happens to be the brother of a Marine who died under the Staff Sergeant’s command, and sadder but wiser civilians and fighting forces learn that war with aliens is hellier than ever).  No one expects this film to be anything more than a delivery system for adrenaline and testosterone, with a bit of alien autopsy and some welcome recognition of the abilities and integrity of the military, but even in that category, it doesn’t pass muster.

Related Tags:

 

Action/Adventure Fantasy Science-Fiction
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik