Review: For good or ill, ‘Fast X’ delivers on expectations

(Universal Pictures)

Whatever you expect from the latest film in The Fast and the Furious franchise, “Fast X,” you are probably going to get.

What I mean is that if you mostly enjoyed the previous films in this series, then you’ll probably like at least aspects of this movie.

If the franchise had become too silly and too outrageous for you at any point, then the latest effort no doubt will be too.

“Fast X” is basically more of the same.

I wouldn’t call the movie a fine film, but I’ll admit there is entertaining action throughout with plenty of laughs — some intentional and some not — as well as an incredibly likable and star-studded cast.

I personally would have preferred if about 20 minutes of the mayhem had been shaved off in the editing, but the trend with action flicks today seems to be the more, the better.

I don’t necessarily agree with that line of thinking. A movie isn’t like brisket, pulled pork, or a ribeye where more fat equates to more flavor.

The film, of course, stars Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto and his mighty extended “Family,” which began as a gang of gearheads and car thieves in the first movie but somehow transitioned into a special espionage unit or something like that in the intervening nine movies.

Most of your favorites from previous episodes in the franchise return as the Family splinters into smaller units to confront the threat that new villain Dante Reyes (Jason Mamoa) poses, and most of the players get at least one or two key scenes in the film.

Reyes is out to get Dom and the Family, who were responsible for the death of his father and the loss of the family fortune.

Also new to the ensemble are Rita Moreno as Dom’s grandmother, Brie Larson as Tess (Captain Marvel), and Alan Ritchson (Reacher). They are agents of some sort.

Mamoa has a ton of fun as Dante, who is both brutal and effeminate. His character would have fit right in as a guest villain on the 1960s “Batman” TV series.

As goofy as his character is, I enjoyed John Cena as Dom’s brother Jakob. He and Dom’s son, “Little” Brian (Leo Abelo Perry), babysit each other throughout the movie and end up wreaking havoc on the bad guys.

Letty, Dom’s wife, (Michelle Rodriguez) and Cipher (Charlize Theron) stage an epic cat fight that’s brutally outrageous and yet still appealing.

The film is filled with absurd set pieces with all manner of vehicles, and like in past “Fast” movies, those scenes stretch the limits of credulity and physics. A least no one flies a car into space like in the last movie.

One of the best scenes in the film is during the credits with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson making a cameo as Luke Hobbs. That’s not a spoiler. Diesel released that information earlier in the week in hopes of inducing ticket sales.

Diesel also said two sequels are planed for the movie, which ends with sort of an “Empire Strikes Back-type” cliffhanger.

While the movie is outrageous, absurd, and silly, I did enjoy it after grudgingly going to see it. I’d probably rank it third in the series behind the fifth and sixth movies — “Fast Five” and “Fast & Furious 6.”

Now, I don’t mean that to be a grand endorsement of any sort. The movie is entirely mediocre. If you have not enjoyed the previous movies in the series to some degree, I don’t think this one will turn you around.

But if you like action, car explosions, gun play, and all manner of fisticuffs, you’ll probably have some fun with “Fast X” and its appealing cast of characters, despite its many faults.

(PG-13) 2 hrs. 21 min.
Grade: C

New in Local Theaters – May 19, 2023

Fast X (PG-13) 2 hrs. 21 min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight)

Classic Corner – The Jungle Book (1942)

(Alexander Korda Films)

The 1942 version of “The Jungle Book” is a decidedly different telling of Rudyard Kipling’s story than either of the Disney adaptations of the novel.

It focuses on the human aspects of the classic adventure rather than the fanciful, which both Disney versions lean heavily into. Filmed and produced respectively by Hungarian brothers Zoltan and Alexander Korda, the movie was a lavish fantasy for its period that was a box office hit.

The allegorical messages of the film still hold up, but some modern viewers might struggle with the special effects, which were state of the art for their day, but far from realistic to the modern eye. However, since the story does take a different path than the version more familiar to modern audiences, it might be a fun movie for kids of all ages who would like another helping of Mowgli’s adventures.

Teen actor by the name of Sabu plays a convincing, yet older version of Mowgli, who lives among men in this story. Sabu also played key roles in 1940’s “Thief of Bagdad” and 1942’s “Arabian Nights,” all of which delve into somewhat similar fantasy worlds.

Each have a certain charm and while Sabu would never be confused as a fine actor, he is likable and even admirable as an earnest underdog who becomes a hero in each of the films.

Like most movies of this vintage, pacing, acting style, and production values are quite different from what we are accustomed to today, but the movie has thrills and heart, if the viewer is patient enough to let it weave its brand of magic

The 1942 version of “The Jungle Book” can be streamed on YouTube.