Why didn’t producers of the “Fast and Furious” franchise think of Jason Momoa before now?
In the 10th edition, “Fast X,” he slides in as a multi-dimensional villain who’s trying to best Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) in the family game.
He’s the best addition since the group first staged backyard gatherings.
Momoa’s Dante Reyes targets Dom because he wants to avenge his father’s death 10 years earlier. That puts a bounty on the heads of Dom’s kind and sets up an impossible plot that manages to get cameos for everyone from Charlize Theron to Pete Davidson.
The Agency – the nebulous overlords who organize these close encounters of the unrealistic kind – wants Dom and company to steal a computer chip in Rome. Because the others do the job while Dom stays home, there’s an opportunity for visitors to drop by.
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Sure enough, a wounded Cipher (Theron) stops and tells him he’s a target.
Realizing as much, Dom and Letty send Little B (Leo Abelo Perry) to Mia (Jordana Brewster) and head to Rome. Out of sight? That’s bait for the baddies and a way to pull in several more characters.
Because Diesel’s lines have to be ready for a volume of “Fast and Furious Famous Quotations,” they lean into the obvious and absurd. Most deal with family; all sound pithy when given a goose by the sound designers.
Directed by Louis Leterrier, “Fast X” goes long stretches without Dom weighing in. That’s because it has to figure out a way to work in the guest stars. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) cracks the door to newcomer Tess (Brie Larson); Little B becomes a sidekick for Jakob (John Cena); Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) have a moment with Pete Davidson. Squeeze in Helen Mirren, Scott Eastwood and Jason Statham and there’s barely enough time for the OGs.
Luckily, Leterrier gives Momoa ample opportunity to strut around like a 21st century Jack Sparrow. Sporting multi-colored nail polish, pastel suits and lot of attitude, he’s the most interesting villain in “Fast” history. Even Theron looks pale in comparison. While this edition features a bunch of impossible stunts (including an unreal helicopter collision), it at least offers hints of that original film. Paul Walker shows up in a flashback; a race between Momoa and Diesel resembles one of the early battles.
Still, too many characters (and two hours and 21 minutes of action) make it difficult to remember where everyone is. A series of title cards captures the scope but, once they’ve flashed, it’s up to you to remember where the people are supposed to be.
The best moments fall to Perry and Cena. They get the biggest stunts and set up the franchise for another generation. Like the upcoming edition of “Mission: Impossible,” this story is too big for one film. It comes to an end, but it doesn’t have closure. Luckily, Momoa could be in the driver’s seat.