Movie Review: Momoa brings the Cartoon to the Car-Toon — “Fast X”

Jason Momoa IS “The Greatest Showman!”

Who knew?

With his every peacocking gesture, every grand spreading of his epic arms and epic smile, every flounce, prance, steely-eyed threat — “You want to control the world, I just want to punish it!” –and every darker-than-dark joke, Momoa becomes the villain’s villain in “Fast X,” the tenth film in the never-ending franchise that began waaaay back in 2001.

“Hey dorks, what’re we blowing up? WHAT? The Vatican? Ok, but you’re going to HELL.”

But let’s not mince words. “Fast X” is a stunningly stupid movie, reviving more “dead” characters than every NBC soap opera ever, “fan servicing” the crap out of a crap script, wrecking more cars (NOT those indestructable Product Placement Dodges) in more digital crashes than one can count, and featuring more scenes demanding the impossible from Vin Diesel acting.

Yet Momoa makes it fun, all by his Larger than Life self.

Momoa plays the aptly-named walking/talking “inferno” Dante, son of the villain played by Joaquim de Almeida a few movies back.

Dante learned one and only one thing from his dad (de Almeida returns to reenact his death scene, and so that Dante can be inserted into the story).

“Never accept death when SUFFERING is owed!”

So Dante starts setting up “The Family,” which has grown (EGOT winner Rita Moreno comes in as a matriarch) so much it’s “a cult, with cars.”

And stuff starts blowing up — in Rome, in London, in and around Rio.

Characters and cars magically bop from locale to locale. Hey, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) wouldn’t be caught DEAD without his indestructable supercharged vintage Charger.

Brie Larson shows up as an “Agency” connected maniuplator, too Taylor Swift-thin to be convincing in a fight.

Another past rival (Oscar winner Charlize Theron) becomes an ally, but not without an epic girlfight, co-starring “Girlfight” alumna Michelle Rodriguez, still the baddest bad-ass in these films.

Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris carry their characters’ ongoing “family” feud to Rome and London, and Brit-fam member Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) can barely keep the peace. John Cena, playing Dom’s brother, provides more comic relief as the “sensitive” but bulked-up uncle who needs to hide Dom’s kid from Dante’s fury.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren and Jason Statham and Sung Kang are also here. The credits for these movies are eating up half the screen time these days. The collection of cameos or return “appearances” is well beyond “cluttering up the narrative.” “Transporter” director Louis Leterrier and the screenwriters can’t keep it all straight. Why should we?

There’s a high-stakes drag race scene in Rio, rendered ludicrously over-the-top like everything else, but which reminds of us of how this saga began — a simple undercover cop and drag-racing thieves tale that morphed into a “family,” with the only character truly “gone” and not forgotten was played by the late Paul Walker.

Diesel, years past getting that AARP card in the mail, is still in shape but his action beats are mostly limited to changing gears…with authority. He’s the one who uses “family” the most. And Dom is the guy who seems to be “extending” this extended family with every film, every moment Dom turns protector for someone new, generally some old friend’s kid these days.

Impossible digital explosions, scene after scene of digital “fire,” impossible plunges into “Bugs Bunny Physics” time and time again, “Fast X” wraps no storyline up, gives up on NO one (save for Walker) who has ever appeared in this series, and no character receives her or his just deserts.

Again, stunningly stupid, and a lot more digital than one would like.

But every time Man Mountain Momoa gives a pedicure to some dead victim, every time he flips that manly mane, he makes this mess worth all the eye-rolling it takes to sit through it.

“I’m Dante,” he says, by way of introduction. And then he CURTSIES! “Enchante!”

Rating: PG-13 (Intense Sequences of Violence|Action|Language|Some Suggestive Material)

Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, Ludacris, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Brie Larson, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Scott Eastwood, Alan Ritchson, Joaquim de Almeida and Jason Momoa.

Directed by Louis Leterrier, scripted by  Justin Lin, Zach Dean and Dan Mazeau Universal release.

Running time: 2:21


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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