By Jana Monji
Part Native Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa is the highlight of the newest entry into the Fast & Furious franchise. As the villainous Dante, Momoa is the dangerously demented devil looking for revenge while painting his nails to match his ride.
The original focus of the Fast & Furious was illegal street racing. That might have been cool once, but times change. The series transitioned to heists and espionage, beginning with Fast Five in 2011.
As the character Aimes, a member of the secret government organization simply called the Agency, tells us in a voice-over:
Let’s start back at the beginning, shall we? Los Angeles, 2001. Humble roots, local kids. Street racers who became hijackers, graduated to high speed smuggling, mobile jailbreaks, train robberies. If it would be done in a car, they did it. If it violates the laws of God and gravity, they did it twice. But the days where one man behind the wheel of a car can make a difference are over.
Dante (Jason Momoa) is introduced as a man in a business suit with a questionable man-bun. The suit barely contains him, but Dante is still controlled under the authority of his father, Brazilian crime lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Hernan’s days as a crime lord are brought to an end when Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew are in Rio de Janeiro and use vehicles to steal a large safe with lots of money in 2011 (“Fast Five,” 2011). As Hernan and Dante separately chase Dom and his crew, Dante is thrown into the water and is dead for two-minutes (according to the Universal Pictures production notes).
Since 2011, Dante has been scheming his revenge on Dom. He begins by staging a fake operation in Rome that lures the B-team led by Roman (Tyrese Gibson) with the doubtful Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), the seemingly immortal Han (Sung Kang) and the intense Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) into a trap that makes the whole F&F fam outlaws, essentially breaking their ties with the Agency. Dom and his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) attempt to warn the Rome crew, but only succeed in saving the Vatican. This action sequence involved a bomb that looks curiously like a Death Star on fire. You’ll also see that the writers (Justin Lin, Zach Dean and Dan Mazeau ) and director Louis Leterrier learned something from Raiders of the Lost Ark and that boulder run. Indeed, there’s a lot of potential for a Universal Studio ride in this film.
From Rome, we’ll jump to London, Brazil, Portugal and even take a trip to Antartica. Don’t expect this film to make sense of time, travel or gravity. A lot of people die, or, at least, seem to die. We don’t look back and check. And remember this: Han supposedly died three times (Tokyo Drift in 2006, Fast 6 in 2013 and Furious 7 in 2015).
Despite a cast with several Oscar-winning actors (Rita Moreno as Dom and Mia’s Abuelita, Brie Larson as an Agency member, Charlize Theron as a high-tech villain and Helen Mirren as the matriarch of the Shaw family), it’s Momoa and John Cena who really shine in Fast X.
My husband said he liked Momoa in HBO’s Game of Thrones as Khal Drogo during the first two seasons because he played a strong, silent type. As Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe films, Momoa was little more than the embodiment of a cartoon character, posing heroically and letting special effects carry the film. As the clearly mental Dante, Momoa is a demonic presence, deliriously drunk on power and fabulously funny.
As Dante tells Dom, “Collateral damage, damage, chaos, death. I’m your legacy.”
Momoa’s Dante makes this installment of the Fast & Furious franchise worth seeing and be sure to stay for the mid-credit scene. Fast X premiered in Rome on 12 May 2023. It was released in the US by Universal Pictures on 19 May 2023. “Fast X” is the first of a two-part installment.
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