a fiery car explosion
Credit: Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures

Early on in Fast X, the not-quite-final entry in the Fast and Furious series, Alan Ritchson as the new (and conspicuously jacked) government agency chief says of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew of drag-racers-turned-secret-agents, “If it could be done in a car, they did it. If it violates the laws of God and gravity, they did it twice.” 

It could take hours to detail all the plot twists, double-crossings, and reappearances of dead characters alive but stricken with amnesia that have taken place over the course of this never-ending macho soap opera, but that quote covers the gist of it. Fast X continues the franchise’s mission to scale bigger and campier heights with each movie, and there are moments that will have you full-volume hooting and hollering in your seat, but it’s undone by the gravest sin of this cinematic universe: it breaks up the family. 

After nearly leveling Vatican City during a heist gone wrong, Dom’s squad splits up across four cities into parallel subplots of wildly uneven entertainment value, the bottom rung of which is occupied by John Cena and Leo Abelo Perry as Dom’s brother Jakob and young son Brian, respectively, on an uncle-nephew bonding trip that involves Jakob driving a beat-up Nissan cross-country and introducing Brian to Marky Mark cassettes. Every time it cuts away from them to villain-of-the-week Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa, decked out in dangly jewelry and a purple scrunchie), it’s a blessing—Momoa’s performance is cranked up to 11 at all times, injecting a jolt of energy into a film that can occasionally feel like an off-brand Roger Moore-era James Bond movie. Dante occupies a space somewhere between the Joker and a more sinister cousin of NoHo Hank from Barry, acting as the most perfect and outrageous foil to Dom’s no-nonsense action hero persona. 

Straight-faced presentation of increasingly unhinged plot developments—like, say, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson driving a sedan directly into outer space—is pretty much the entire appeal of this franchise, but it turns out it can be a blast to see someone let loose and lean harder into this being the exact halfway point between All My Children and Adam West’s Batman. PG-13, 141 min.

Wide release in theaters