Dominic Toretto is one lucky guy.
He’s driven cars out of flying airplanes. He’s driven cars through skyscrapers. (Not through the lobbies of skyscrapers. We’re talking about vaulting through the air 50 stories up.) He’s driven cars that pull 10-ton safes straight out of walls, then has used said safes as square bowling balls to knock other cars off the road.
Perhaps, given all the explosions and engine noises he’s dealt with the last 22 years, Dom’s luckiest break (brake?) of all is that his eardrums are still intact.
But the mechanic/street racer/carjacker/international spy’s luck-tank may be running out of gas. Dom has made some enemies over time. And after a career built on breaking both the laws of man and physics, someone wants to break him—one piece at a time.
That man is Dante Reyes, son of the late drug kingpin Hernan Reyes. Dante watched as Dom and his friend, Brian O’Conner, swiped said 10-ton safe from his pops, after which Dom used it to slingshot his own car into Hernan’s vehicle. (Who knew that safes could be so mobile and useful?) And while Dante was conspicuously absent from the event as chronicled in Fast 5, don’t tell Dante he wasn’t there. Because he’ll take offense and kill your whole family.
That’s kind of Dante’s style. If someone wrongs him? Threaten that someone’s family. If Dante wants someone to work for him? Why, he’ll threaten his family. If someone kills Dante’s father? Ooooh, yeah, that’s a threatenin’.
Dante is rich enough—and insane enough—to make good on those threats against Dom’s family. And if you’re familiar with the Fast & Furious movies at all, you know Dom’s all about family.
He’s married these days, to fellow street racer Letty Ortiz. He’s got a kid, too. Brian—Little B., they call him—is about 10 years old and just now learning how to drift. And Dom’s siblings, Jakob and Mia are as close as close can be.
But Dom considers his crew family, too. Roman, Tej, Han, Ramsey … they’re as connected as a crankshaft and timing chain, as tight with each other as pistons and O-rings. When you burn as much rubber together as these folks do, you burn a little of their love into your soul, too.
Yep, Dom’s got a big family. And Dante hopes to destroy that family, bit by bit. It’s not enough for Dom to die. No, his father taught Dante that their enemies must suffer. So while Dom can make cars fly and safes swing and the laws of gravity itself bend to his whim, Dante believes that he’s more than a match for Mr. Toretto.
Dom’s luck might be on its last fumes.
As you’d expect, you hear a lot about family in Fast X, and that familial angle leans particularly hard in the direction of Dom and his son, Little B.
Dom does his best to pass on everything he knows to his child. He brags that Little B. will be better than him one day: “Each generation better than the last,” he says. “That’s fatherhood.”
And he takes fatherhood very seriously. Dom prides himself on always keeping his promises to his son—and he promises (somewhat redundantly?) that he’ll never break one. When someone asks him why he’s still driving and working on cars with carburetors in them instead of faster, “better” fuel-injected vehicles, Dom explains that the carburetors teach Little B to listen—something that, in Dom’s estimation, people do far too little of. And, of course, he’ll risk his life habitually to save the life of his boy.
“I only want to protect the people I love,” Dom says. That covers plenty of people we meet here, and the street runs both ways. Plenty of folks risk their lives (and sometimes give them) to save their compatriots. Others push against unfair directives aimed at Dom’s team, both out of loyalty and a sense of fair play. And despite the outlandish levels of collateral damage we see here—mainly to cars and buildings—Dom and his pals care about the innocents imperiled by the events of this movie, and they often do everything they can to minimize unnecessary casualties. (At other times, such collateral damage feels like a bit of an afterthought, but hey. This is a Fast & Furious movie.)
Dom and others make several references to faith during the film, often connecting that faith to the crucifix that Dom wears around his neck. These sincere-but-superficial references to faith go little farther, but it clearly implies that Dom is not just a Christian, but one who relies on God in any number of impossible situations. “Nothing is impossible,” he reminds his son. “You just have to have faith.”
We also hear other, less spiritual references to faith and religion.
Dante’s name may be designed to point viewers to the Italian author Dante. He’s famous for his Divine Comedy, of course, which takes readers on a tour of hell, purgatory and heaven—with the first book, Inferno, being the best known. That’s where the concept of the nine circles of hell comes from, and you could argue that the movie’s makers are suggesting that Dante is dragging Dom through his own nine circles.
Dante also wryly suggests that Dom is some sort of saint—reminding him that to be a saint, one must either perform miracles or die a martyr. Dante also tries to blow up the Vatican, though he blames the choice on his unwilling henchmen. (“OK, I’ll do it,” Dante says, feigning reluctance. “But you guys are going to hell.”) When Dom saves the Vatican from the bomb, Dante mentions his heroism later. “Who does that?” he says, referencing saving the holy city. “The pope? God?”
Cipher, another ongoing villainess in the Fast & Furious franchise, reluctantly warns Dom about Dante after she has a run-in with the latter. “I met the devil tonight,” she tells Dom. “Honestly, I always thought it was me, so it was kind of disappointing.”
We see churches (some of which have been damaged by explosions) and crucifixes. A bit of technology is referred to as “God’s eye.” There’s a suggestion that someone may be helping bring people together beyond the grave.
A scene in Rio de Janeiro features plenty of dancing women in tight, skimpy outfits. The camera seems to focus especially on barely clad posteriors and the like.
Dom and Letty spend some time on their bed, engaging in gently suggestive talk. (Dom asks if Little B.’s in bed and marvels that Letty gets more beautiful with each day.) He squeezes her thigh, but the scene goes no farther. Other women can wear somewhat revealing garb. Ramsay, a female hacker for Dom’s team, renews an acquaintance with an old flame.
While Dante’s sexual preferences aren’t dealt with here, actor Jason Momoa (famous for his role as Aquaman) intentionally plays with the character’s sexuality. “He’s very sadistic and androgynous, and he’s a bit of a peacock,” he told Variety. “He’s got a lot of issues, this guy.”
Holy Toledo, we could fill up the entire internet with this section.
It’s not that the violence here is gory or even particularly bloody. But if you’ve seen a Fast & Furious film, you can take that and goose it with a little nitrous oxide for this installment. The plot may feature more explosions than words. As such, we’ll not detail every conflagration here, but we will give you a little overview of what to expect.
The opening set piece features a giant bomb literally rolling through the streets of Rome. It smashes cars (moving and not), crashes through a bus, destroys countless bits of property and catches fire. Dom helpfully crashes his own car into restaurant awnings, thus protecting diners from the blaze. The bomb goes off, but not as had been planned: Had it done what Dante wanted it to do, it would’ve leveled Rome’s famous seven hills down to “two-and-a-half.” Other, smaller explosives send various vehicles flying and exploding. But despite the incredible destruction the bomb leaves in its wake (not to mention that of the folks chasing it), we learn later that, improbably, no one died.
That is what this movie would like us to believe: Even though dozens—perhaps hundreds—of vehicles are smashed, mashed and completely obliterated, the movie’s junkyards are far busier than its hospitals.
People do die, however. Some are killed in fiery explosions. Others are shot or stabbed or sliced, and at least one appears to suffer a broken neck. Another is impaled by a bit of elevator machinery.
We see the corpses of two such victims, their faces disfigured by what looks like packing tape as someone paints their toenails. Both have bulging eyes, and a fly lands grotesquely on one eyeball.
Characters fight frenetically in several scenes—leaving each other bloody and bruised. Many people get shot; some survive, others do not. One woman stabs another in the shoulder. People fall down from a couple of stories up. Two characters nearly drown. Someone loses a tooth. Planes explode. Cars explode. Buildings explode. Restraint explodes.
When Little B. nearly says the s-word during one scene, his Uncle Jakob tells him that that word is only allowed for “song lyrics and stubbed toes.”
Later he amends that statement to include “cannon cars,” and the film itself makes plenty of other exceptions as well. The s-word is used at least 13 times (not to mention the two times that Little B almost says it). We hear other profanities as well, including “a–,” “b–tard,” “d–n” and “h—.” God’s name is misused five times, four of which also involve the word “d–n.”
Characters drink beer. A covert equipment dealer also sells “fun muffins.” Han eats one and begins to hallucinate. We know that Dante’s father was a notorious drug lord. Liquor flows at a party. Vodka is used as fuel. When someone suggests using bottles of wine as well, he’s told that just won’t work.
This probably won’t surprise you, but people drive recklessly here. We hear about Dom’s crew’s checkered, sometimes felonious past (complete with clips from previous movies).
Given the Fast & Furious series’ emphasis on cars, it seems appropriate that most of its best messages would fit on a bumper sticker.
“You got no honor,” Dom tells Dante at one point. “Without honor, you got no family. Without family, you got nothing.”
Fast X is filled with similar aphorisms, embracing the values of family and friendship, faith and sacrifice. Those messages are nice, and sometimes even praiseworthy.
But, of course, encouraging its viewers to be better people isn’t Fast X’s primary goal. This is all about giving its audience the adrenaline-fueled experience they’ve come to expect.
Naturally, Plugged In has come to expect the issues that go along with said experience. The violence and mayhem here are unremitting. People get hurt and sometimes die. The film sneezes out explosions as if it had some wicked seasonal allergies.
But while Dom trumpets the value of honor, let’s not lose sight of how many laws are broken in pursuit of Dom’s honorable goals. Or how many law enforcement officers have their patrol cars smashed and various bones broken.
If those elements went AWOL in Fast & Furious, of course, it wouldn’t be a Fast & Furious film. Those are necessary ingredients in this high-octane dish. The swearing? Well, this frenzied feast could easily throttle back on the spicy language.
For fans of the franchise, Fast X is an entertaining, somewhat frustrating addition to the canon. The series is beginning a long curtain call. So this installment features plenty of cliffhangers to ensure fans will be back for the next two chapters.
But while the storyline features a few surprises (which we’ve not spoiled here, hopefully), the content concerns are no surprise at all.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.