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A detailed summary of Fast X would require more energy drinks than I’m prepared to consume.

Someone who saw it before me said it’s a “stupid, stupid movie,” to which I replied “that’s a feature, not a bug.” So I can’t pretend I’m unbiased. Also, I see chivalry in these movies where others don’t. Nevertheless, I’ll admit if you aren’t already a fan, watching this one (now available on VOD) won’t bring you into the Family.

For the initiated, all the hallmarks of the series are here: beautiful women, hulking men, cars that violate “the laws of God and gravity,” Corona beer, and Family banter around the picnic table. It’s an auto-soap opera, where new and/or dead Family members can come and go at any time. Which they do.

After a brief flashback to Fast Five and some present-day setup, things go from zero to 60 when the villainess Cipher (Charleze Theron) shows up bleeding at Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) door to warn him that his Family is in danger. The enemy of my enemy and all that. A flamboyant madman, Dante (Jason Momoa) is out to take revenge on Dom and company for killing his father in the earlier installment, and he attacked Cipher to get the gadget, God’s Eye, he needs to do it.

Dante gets the literal and metaphorical ball rolling by framing Dom’s crew for trying to blow up the Vatican with a giant bomb. Thanks to some, uh, improbable driving, they prevent that, but Rome gets wrecked. Now Dom is playing cat-and-mouse with Dante and running from the CIA (embodied by Alan Ritchson as Aimes); his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), is arrested and has to escape a black site prison with Cipher; and the rest of the Family is in hiding.

What follows is a series of chases, races, explosions, and lots of shooting. Dom’s son, Little B (Leo Abelo Perry) even gets in on the action while traveling with his uncle Jakob (John Cena).

Momoa leans hard into the sexually ambiguous psychopath role, casually giving corpses tea party makeovers when he’s not creating impossible choices for Dom.

Stupid, yes. But there’s an underlying sincerity to the whole thing that’s become quite rare. Dom tells Dante, “You got no honor. Without honor, you got no family. Without family, you got nothing.” Many films would cut something like that off at the knees with a snide joke, which C.S. Lewis might say adds to creating “men without chests.” His point isn’t that such men lack courage but rather an emotional source for courage.

Dante routinely taunts Dom for his sentimental attachment to family. Yet that’s what makes him the just king of the knights of the picnic table. (Rated PG-13, for violence and language. Universal. Available as VOD.)

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