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Written by ceditor

Tenth installment of Fast saga takes the audience on a ride like never before!

KARACHI: They are fast. They are furious. And they are back for another adventure that takes the viewers on a ride they will never forget. Fast X might be the tenth film in the Fast & Furious franchise that grows bigger with every installment, but it keeps on giving, because with the passage of time, everything in it grows exponentially. Be it Dom’s family, his cars, the technology these cars follow, and the size of the villains, the more the merrier is the word.

However, the only thing that sort of shrinks is the viewers’ intelligence and it would be better to go inside the theatre with an empty mind than instead of a sane one because the kind of logic-defying stunts you will see in this movie will make you rethink the laws of physics all over again. Had the film been more literal in its action sequences and law-defying stunts, it might not have managed to stay afloat for over two decades and made its actors into stars who could do no wrong.

The plot

With the arrival of Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), the son of drug lord Hernan Reyes who was robbed by the team in Fast Five, things go haywire for Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family. Not only is Dante able to lure the team to Rome for a mission that doesn’t exist on the roster of the agency Dom and Co. work for, but his action also causes the team to scatter. With no Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) or Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) to help them, the team switches to survival mode and tries to find ways to regroup.

Add to that the entry of Cipher (Charlize Theron) who was forced to flee from her own castle by Dante and there are more members against the antagonist than he has on his side. Things go from bad to worse when Dante threatens to kidnap Dom’s son and the whole ‘family’ unites to go down the road, fighting. Will Dom be able to keep his family together despite people switching sides at will, or will Dante have the last laugh and be able to avenge his father’s death, watch Fast X to know the answer.

The good

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the Fast Saga? Unbelievable stunts featuring supercars, and death-defying action sequences involving muscular men, drop-dead gorgeous females, and an assembly of intelligent people who know how to make the most from technology. Fast X takes all that into account and delivers a product that does a lot more than just tick the boxes on the checklist. Here, the characters grow and seem more human than in the previous critically-panned part and give every actor their moment to shine.

The film undoubtedly belongs to Vin Diesel, who is the star of the show and with his improved acting he manages to impress for a change. He not only acts as the father figure for the entire team but also for his onscreen son who is the bone of contention between the good guys and the evil ones. The scene where he saves one of the team members has always been the highlight of the film, however here his act of saving an entire city (Rome, in this case) comes out as the most applauded moment of the movie.

Despite the split in the team, the director Louis Leterrier was able to keep the audience’s interest alive in the film, thanks to the comic timing of Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Han Lue (Sung Kang), and the animosity between Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Cipher (Charlize Theron). Everyone got proper screen time to perform; Charlize Theron came into her Atomic Blonde mode twice, Michelle Rodriguez had her moments with hand-to-hand combat as well as on wheels while John Cena’s Jakob had his chance to shine as well.

Considering the man behind the camera was also the one who directed Transporter 2 and Now You See Me, the car chases were innovative and magical at the same time. Had someone else jumped from an airplane onto a moving car on a busy highway, driven his car on a non-platform, or even used his car to deflect a bomb, it would have been hard to believe, but when Vin Diesel is behind wheels, anything is possible. The reason why the stunts seem gripping and mind-boggling has more to do with the other elements in the movie such as the return of dead comrades’ which comparatively is more shocking for the audience.

The bad

The most important ingredient of the Fast Saga is also its most parodied one ― family. The series which began with an emphasis on fast cars has moved on to emphasis on the fast-growing family who seem to have time for family barbecues, have aunts and uncles who are good at babysitting, and drive fast cars to work which is nothing compared to their ultimate job ― save the world. Some might refer to it as a thinly plotted telenovela, and others would call it a strategy to keep the audience’s interest alive, but since it helps the film, it isn’t discarded here as well.

In a world where baddies become good, goodies become bad and there is no in-between, Jason Momoa playing a bad guy might have seemed to be a good idea on paper but for a non-actor like him, playing the villain and convincing the audience of his intention is the difficult part. He tries too hard to play a mentally-disturbed character but, in the end, comes up with a parody of Heath Ledger’s Joker. He might share the same universe with the DC character but that doesn’t mean that he could try to ape the Oscar-winning performance instead of working hard on his own portrayal.

Also, for reasons unknown to the viewers, Kurt Russell who plays Mr Nobody was missed in the film and the vacuum created by his absence left a huge dent on the franchise. Scott Eastwood, who would have been his ideal replacement, was not used intelligently and after the first mission, he didn’t return to the agency despite being alive and well. Maybe that was done deliberately to give Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson a chance to shine as the daughter of Mr Nobody but she was wasted as an actress, as a character, and as an addition to the franchise. Anyone could have played that character and while the audience wanted to see her do some badass action, the most she did was be part of a sequence where she gets injured in the end.

It would have been better had the film been in 2D instead of going for the fancy yet unnecessary 3D format. The past movies in the franchise were as clear as a day and the action sequences managed to hit the heart because of their clarity but here, it was too dark for an action film and some of the sequences were sort of lost in the 3D transition. Also, the quality of the Computer-Generated Interface or CGI was not at par with the budget of the film and it would have been great had the producers worked on it harder. At times Fast X gave the feeling of Salman Khan’s Race 3 which is not a compliment if you are familiar with the Bollywood flick.

Also, too much time was spent on past stories instead of creating new ones which sort of hurts the franchise in the longer run. Until you change the cast or reboot the franchise, the only thing that keeps a film series valid for over two decades is its ability to look forward than into the rear-view mirror, and Fast X does exactly that. Add to that the cliffhanger climax and you would be left wondering whether waiting for the next part is worth it or not. For ardent fans of the franchise, nothing can stop them from thronging the cinema when the sequel to Fast X comes out in 2025, but it will be nothing short of a challenge for the makers to cater to the younger fans, who already believe that cinema is a dying breed.

The verdict – 3.5/5

Is Fast X a waste of your time? No. Waste of money? No. Waste of intelligence. Maybe, but in a world where films are the only way to escape realism, movies like Fast X need to exist. For a little over two hours, the audience is transported into a world where nothing seems impossible, fear and logic take the backseat and let Vin Diesel and Co do what they do best ― drive fast cars, jump from one place to another and save the world. The way they do it is what makes this franchise stay relevant and appeal to both the young, the old, and those young at heart. For those who aren’t fond of illogical plotlines and nonsensical action sequences, stay away from this franchise. Movies like these have managed to outlive your hate and will continue to do so by being unapologetically over the top, but not out of mind!

Omair Alavi – tribune

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