‘Fast X’ takes another spin into pointless action & mayhem


“Fast X”

Rated PG-13. At the AMC Boston Common, AMC South Bay and suburban theaters.

Grade: C+

Directed by the mediocre French action filmmaker Louis Letterier (“Transporter 2,” “Clash of the Titans”), after Justin Lin dropped out in that position, “Fast X,” the 11th film in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, featuring Vin Diesel’s famously laconic renegade Dominic Toretto, reunites the remaining members of the “Fast & Furious” team aka Dominic Toretto’s family.

As usual, the film, which uses the Roman numeral for 10, instead of the Arabic number, is an often laughable mix of family-movie mawkishness, over-the-top, nitro-boosted action and toxic masculinity. It’s worth noting that even the women in the “Fast & Furious” series are super-masculine when necessary. Rita Moreno of the original “West Side Story” appears in an opening family meal to give this schmaltzy-super-violent, supremely dumb action film a classic film glaze.

The film’s nothing-if-not-redundant screenplay is by Dan Mazeau (“Clash of the Titans”) and Justin Lin (“F9:” The Fast Saga”). What are we to make of these “Fast & Furious” films? They are like dim-witted versions of “The Godfather” movies with street racers, who engage in all types of gangster film activities (heists mostly), instead of actual gangsters. The problem is the characters in “Fast & Furious” films only exist in the minds of the film’s makers and fans, and their activities resemble nothing more than wanton boys banging their toy cars and trucks together, setting them on fire, flinging them from rooftops and blowing them up for their frighteningly destructive amusement.

This installment begins by recapping scenes set in Rio de Janeiro from Lin’s “Fast Five” (2011) in which a giant vault is dragged through the streets of Rio, resurrecting Paul Walker and wreaking the usual (previously shot) mayhem. All the surviving players are here for X: Dom, his wife and powerful fighter and driver Letty Ortiz (Michele Rodriguez), Don’s hard-fighting sister Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), former convict Roman Pearce (an occasionally amusing Tyrese Gibson), master mechanic and tech expert Tej Parker (Ludacris), as well as others from the franchise, including Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), his mother Queenie (Helen Mirren), previous villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) and newcomer Tess (a completely supernumerary Brie Larson), the daughter of the absent Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Plus, we have surprise cameos that you probably didn’t want.

Most noteworthy character outside of Dom himself is Dante (Jason Momoa), the revenge-seeking son of the late Don Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida, “Warrior Nun”). Thanks to Momoa’s excessively nutty behavior, outfits and make-up and coiffures, Dante becomes this film’s low-rent Joker. In scenes set in Rome, for example, super-villain Dante threatens the Vatican itself with a giant ball-shaped bomb straight off “Raiders of the Lost Ark” rolling down the streets of the Eternal City.

See flaming slo-mo SUVs fly through the air like ballet dancers made out of glass and metal. In Rome, Mirren’s Queenie wryly notes that Diesel’s Dom is “no Gregory Peck” in reference to the William Wyler classic “Roman Holiday.” Well, Queenie’s’s not quite Audrey Hepburn, either. Pete Davidson has a widely reported bit that is so throwaway they should have thrown it away. The agency known as the Agency descends upon Dom’s house in L.A. where Aunt Mia and Uncle Jakob (John Cena, quipping none too brightly again) fight to protect Dom’s son Brian aka B (Leo Abelo Perry). Back in Rio, we get a leering montage of butts and Dante in pigtails and nail polish. Can you drop a car from a low-flying cargo plane and not have it smash to pieces? Can you drop me off, please?

(“Fast X” contains violent action scenes, violence and profanity)

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