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Saturday 23rd September

Fast X, reviewed by someone who’s never watched a Fast & Furious Film

Does the new F&F film make any sense to a newbie? Does it make any sense full-stop?

Published: 19 May 2023

Until this week, I had never seen a Fast and Furious film.

Obviously I’m not a total recluse. I’ve been vaguely aware of a few F&F headlines over the years: Vin Diesel and his suspicious smoothness; Paul Walker’s Skyline; the 28-mile runway; that Lykan Hypersport leaping from skyscraper to skyscraper.

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But actually watching an F&F film? Never. The problem was, like the wasps’ nest in my loft, the franchise had just got too big and intimidating to tackle. I’d missed that nitrous-injected boat.

To watch every Fast and Furious film, back-to-back, would take 20-something hours. I don’t have time for that! Not with the new series of Masterchef on!

But earlier this week, in the name of scientific research and also free popcorn, I bravely forewent Masterchef, and instead headed to London’s ritzy Aberdeen Angus district to watch Fast X (though ‘watch’ doesn’t really do justice to the tartrazine-fever-dream of the experience: let’s go with ‘be pummelled about the eyeballs with’).

And now the headache has cleared, I have good news: if you, too, are new to the F&F universe, and want to know if you’ll understand what’s going on in Fast X, I’m happy to inform you that… no. You will have no idea what’s going on.

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This does not matter. I’m not entirely sure that anyone knows what’s going on in Fast X, including the people who made and starred in it.

Here’s what I can tell you about Fast X. A lot of stuff happens, very loudly and very quickly. Car chases, fighting, explosions, frequently all at the same time. CGI abounds. A host of unnecessarily muscular men and women punch each other in the faces, many times. Bombs. There are many bombs.

I have a strong suspicion that subjecting any of the plot to scrutiny would cause it to collapse like candyfloss in a rainstorm. But that, if anything, is the genius of Fast X: it bowls along a sufficient chaotic speed to outrun logic itself.

Before you’ve had time to think, hang on, why didn’t he just phone that other person rather than getting on a plane and then jumping out of the plane in his car or hang on was that the other guy wh– you’re on to the next noisy explosion, this time with added helicopters, because there’s nothing that can’t be improved with helicopters.

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Did the writers start with a big bunch of silly set-pieces and glitzy locations, then vainly attempt to backfill the plot from there? Not for me to say. (Yes.) But hey, why simply jump the shark, when you could fill that shark with TNT and jump it in a nitrous-stuffed muscle car?

Here’s what else I can tell you: Jason Momoa has very lovely hair. He, and it, are the best things in the film (apart from a lovely Alfa 2000 GT Veloce, which deserves far more screen-time).

Leaning into the credulity-bending absurdity of the Furiverse, Momoa’s living his best baddie life here, hammier than a pork buffet, a pleasingly campy antidote to the recent tranche of buttoned-up Bond villains whose main character trait seems to have been ‘having a crush on James Bond’.

Vin Diesel! He’s still there! Good old Vin, with his facial expression. Doesn’t seem to have aged over the last two decades, but does seem to be running slightly higher PSI than before.

In the Fast X universe all matter is very explosive

The cars are peripheral. Yes, there’s a Brazilian drag race (with added bombs, naturally) and a smattering of expensive exotica – McLaren Senna, Charger Hellcat, a Pagani Huayra Tricolore because obviously. But, like the film’s locations – Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Antarctica – they’re a series of disposable Insta-fodder rather than characters to be explored or appreciated.

Certainly they’re treated with no great reverence or respect: pretty much every car ends up crashed and/or exploded, because in the Fast X universe all matter is very explosive.

There’s some clunky engine chat. I also learned that you can apparently liberate an extra couple of hundred horsepower from a motor simply by aggressively upshifting, which is nice.

Beyond that, I’ll be honest, all somewhat of a blur. You know that wired-but-tired headache you get after sinking many packets of Haribo on a very long drive? That’s how I felt exiting the cinema after watching Fast X. Also, quite deaf.

Did it make me want to go back and watch the previous nine films? Possibly, though I’d make sure I had a strong supply of paracetamol. That said, Editor Pattni – who has actually watched all ten F&F films and thus should really have written this review instead – tells me an in-depth knowledge of the franchise is, if anything, a hindrance to making sense of the plot.

Or indeed the franchise itself. Fast X is the final F&F film, but also it isn’t. There’ll be a Fast X: Part 2 (if only there was another, less clunky, way to count to numbers beyond ten!) to follow in a couple of years, which will definitely be the last one, unless they decide to do a Fast X: Part 3 as well, which they almost definitely will. All clear?

Forget making sense. Switch off your synapses, strap on your willing suspension of disbelief, stab that big red NOS button and cling on for the ride. This week, I lost my F&F virginity, and now I’m off for a long lie-down in a darkened room.

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