- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2023

One of the more extreme action franchises in the history of cinema returned for another high-octane dose of entertainment earlier this year.

The latest saga of the Toretto gang now debuts on the ultra-high definition disc format in Fast X: Collector’s Edition (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 141 minutes, $39.98).

Within minutes, the audience will be gripping the sofa arms as the film opens with the heist of a massive bank vault that gets dragged by a pair of muscle cars down the streets and a highway in Rio de Janeiro, leaving destruction in its path and nearly wiping out an entire battery of squad cars in pursuit.

The opening salvo, a redux from “Fast Five,” introduces the cheesy clownish villain Dante Reyes, the son of a drug lord (a devilish-looking Jason Momoa), out for revenge a decade later after what Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his brother-in-arms Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) did in Rio that also accidentally killed his father in the process.

That leaves roughly 110 minutes for Dom to protect his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and son Brian (Abelo Perry) from Dante.

He must also survive being hunted with his team by Agent Aimes (Alan Ritchson) and the Agency after being falsely accused of committing a terrorist act set off by his new mortal enemy.

The ensemble cast includes Dom’s core team of Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Han Lue (Sung Kang) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), goofy brother Jakob (John Cena), his allies Queenie Ellmanson-Shaw (Helen Mirren) and Tess (Brie Larson), and former enemy Cipher (Charlize Theron).

Suffice it to report, the plot is thin, dialogue dunderheaded, but every one of director Louis Leterrier’s action scenes stuns the senses.

Viewers will marvel at such jaw-dropping scenes as a flaming, orb-shaped bomb rolling toward the Vatican, a large crane being used like a slingshot, a high speed street race with exploding cars or an vehicular escape down the side of a dam.

Sure, the laws of physics take the most damage in the profile scenes but better to munch the popcorn with my dear.

Despite the high level of fun, the most criminal part of the film experience, that will guarantee to infuriate the casual movie watcher, is the ridiculous cliffhanger ending. No resolution at all for the key characters, making the entire spectacle hard to fully recommend.

4K in action: Considering the lush locations, large explosions, crackling firefights and exotic muscle-bound vehicles, “Fast X” must be enjoyed in the ultra-high definition disc format and its Dolby Atmos aural assaulting sound mix.

Culled from the 4K digital intermediate, the presentation defines travelogue moments in places such as Turin, Rome, Naples, London, Rio de Janeiro and Antarctica while showcasing combustion engine gems such as a golden Lamborghini Gallardo, sleek black 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, 1966 white Ford Fairlane, 1969 lavender Chevy Impala and a heavily modified Chevrolet El Camino with missile launchers.

Rich colors and crisp details abound that take viewers into moments such as close-quarter combat between Letty and Cipher and an outrageous, multistory fight between Jakob, Mia and a small army of Agency soldiers blazing with gunfire, shattering glass and sweat.

Best extras: A bountiful supply of goodies for fans leads off with the critical solo optional commentary track with the director. A quick caveat, he has a French accent so listen closely to enjoy an enthusiastic overview of his latest movie.

His flowing comments touch all bases of the production such as special effects, the story, casting, rebuilding the opening scene, shooting locations, the vehicles and working together with Mr. Diesel to plot the story and action scenes.

Finer details cover Mr. Momoa de-aging for the opening scene, the reverence to “Fast Five,” fight choreography with Mr. Statham and taking practical stunts to the limits of the impossible such as dropping a car onto a road from a plane as Mr. Leterrier went on “the greatest ride of his life.”

Follow up the commentary with eight featurettes (more than 70 minutes in total) that offer an overview of the production; its ties to the 22-year-old franchise; the female characters in combat mode; the Rio street race; a look at a pair of key action scenes deconstructed by the director; Mr. Momoa in Rome; the collection of famed actors; and a focus on the iconic vehicles.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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