1. Family; 2. Family; 3. Family; 4. Family; 5. Family; 6. Family; 7. Family; 8. Family; 9. Cars; and 10. Family.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Fast X will be released in theaters on May 19th, the tenth installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise. Yes, the one about the cars and street racing beginning in 2001 spawned nine sequels (with a tenth already confirmed) and a spinoff. If you had told me that the “bro” film about automobiles would become one of my favorite franchises twenty years ago, I would have laughed in your face.
But it has. They have become fun action movies that are ridiculous but entertaining. And with every franchise that reaches this many installments, there is lore that could do with highlighting. So this is my list of ten things to remember before watching Fast X.
Let’s get this out of the way. There are scenarios in the Fast and Furious saga which are problematic from a realism point of view. They don’t make sense. There are many examples where you must suspend your disbelief and accept it for what it is. Do not say, “But they’d be dead!” or “How long is that runway?!” or “How the heck did they get to space?!”
The trailer shows us Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) Dodge Charger taking down two helicopters and three SUVs just by jumping from one road to another. We know that it is ridiculous, but who the hell cares? We saw him drag a safe down the streets of Rio under the torque of just two engines in previous chapters. Let’s just move on.
Two of the mainstays of the Fast and Furious series are Han (Sung Kang) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), appearing in four movies each. The two have only met once: when Shaw killed Han in Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious 6. DUM DUM DUMMMM.
Or so it seemed. In F9, Han shockingly returned after it was revealed that he had been saved by the shadowy Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Since then, Shaw has turned over a new leaf, aligning himself with the Torettos, but it’s safe to say that Shaw and Han will have trouble co-existing at the start of Fast X.
Also, the Fast and Furious timeline is weird.
You’d think that the attempted murder of Han would be the only event in the Han-Shaw relationship that could be explosive. Unfortunately not. Deckard Shaw’s brother, Owen (Luke Evans), was ultimately responsible for the death of the love of Han’s life, Gisele (Gal Gadot). Her demise was the reason that Han took a break from the Fast gang, which left him isolated enough to be targeted by Deckard in Japan. I’m sure that Gisele’s death will be another flashpoint when the two finally meet face-to-face and, reluctantly, work together.
Tragically, Paul Walker (who played Brian O’Conner in the saga) died in a fatal car accident in 2013, partway through filming Furious 7. That doesn’t mean that his character was killed off in the franchise. He quietly retired alongside his wife, Dom’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster). He is mentioned in subsequent entries, but his character either does not appear or is shown only from behind. We know from the trailer that Mia will be in Fast X, so it is highly likely that Brian will at least be mentioned (if not killed off-screen) in the movie. What could motivate Mia to rejoin the group more than a threat to her family’s life?
Cipher (Charlize Theron) has been the arch-nemesis of Dom since Fast & Furious 6 but was only introduced in The Fate of the Furious (the eighth installment). As I said, the Fast and Furious timeline is weird. She is a highly intelligent hacker and mastermind, someone who was adept at hiding her identity until Dom disrupted too many of her plans, and she had to reveal herself. Directly or indirectly, the crew has unraveled four of her plans already, one of which resulted in her capture by The Agency.
Cipher escapes in F9 and fakes her own death. But she’ll be back. And she’ll be angry!
In fact, Fast Five is crucial to the plot of Fast X. In the fifth installment of the franchise, the group travels to Brazil and steals millions of dollars from Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), a powerful drug lord. The trailer introduces Jason Mamoa as Dante Reyes, the son of the drug lord that Dom robbed and caused the death of. Dante’s motivation is vengeance. His legacy and family were destroyed by Dom and the gang, and he’s waited years for some retribution.
Fast Five also introduces Elena (Elsa Pataky), the mother of Dom’s son, Brian. Oh, yeah!
Dom has a son now, and Elena is not in the picture. She was killed by Cipher in The Fate of the Furious, and it was heartbreaking. Luckily, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom’s wife, has stepped in as a motherly figure in the boy’s life. But, the existence of a Toretto offspring also paints a large target, a weak point in Dom’s life. His Achilles’ heel has always been the ones he cares about, his familia. But blood is blood. Having Dante take away Dom’s son could be seen as poetic justice for Dom taking away his father.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has played Agent Lucas Hobbs in the franchise since Fast Five, and he even starred in his own spinoff, Hobbs and Shaw.
But don’t expect him to appear in Fast X.
There is real-life beef between Vin Diesel and The Rock. And it’s not a quarter pounder of beef. It’s a whole freaking cow. It started in 2016 when The Rock posted a not-so-tactful message on social media, calling out some of his male co-stars on The Fate of the Furious for being unprofessional “Candy Asses.” The last significant exchange was Vin Diesel publicly calling for Hobbs’ return, only to be rebuked by The Rock for the post, having already confirmed that he wasn’t returning.
Was this a smoke screen? Will family prevail? On this occasion, I think not.
Mr. Nobody is a shadowy government figure that has America’s best interest at heart. He’s repeatedly used Dom and his crew, promising pardons for their past crimes, allowing the family to return home. He had an affinity with the group and a mutual respect for Dom and his feats of badassery.
But Mr. Nobody is missing in action. His plane went down in F9, and his fate is unknown. I always say: “no body, no death,” but his absence will leave a power vacuum in The Agency.
Who is going to fill that space, and will they look kindly on the group of former criminals and rogues? One thing is for sure: the new Nobody will have a different outlook.
Family. Yes! Family! It’s the meme, I know, but it’s true.
But it’s not all about blood. It’s about the family you choose, and that chooses you. The crew consists of blood relatives, of course, but it also has redeemed enemies, old friends, friends of friends, and allies of convenience. They all work together for common goals or against shared foes, and then they have a family meal. It’s wholesome and touching.
It’s the joke, but it’s also the primary motivation of Dom. That’s his raison d’etre.