Years ago, Universal announced their intentions of ending the Fast and Furious franchise with the tenth movie. In order to continue the series without going back on their word, Fast X then turned into a two-film conclusion. Just before the release of the tenth installment, however, it was announced that the two-part finale was being stretched out into three films. While I would normally bemoan the money-grubbing practices of studios and the obnoxious practice of cliffhangers in film franchises, Fast X is enough fun to leave me wanting plenty more.
The cast list keeps getting longer, but the focus of Fast X is still Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his growing “family” made up of a team of criminals and government agents along with endless blood relatives. You need a family tree to keep track of how each member is connected, with many of the villains from past films now also included in the dysfunctional family. Dom’s wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is back, though she spends much of the film imprisoned alongside (former?) villain Cypher (Charlize Theron). Their son is watched by Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), until his brother and F9’s villain Jakob (John Cena) takes over to redeem himself for past actions. Meanwhile, longtime team members Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang), and relative newcomer Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) gather the rest of the gang for implied involvement in the next films, including a memorable scene with Shaw (Jason Statham). There is also a brief post-credit scene implying the return of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson).
Although Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) is still nowhere to be found, Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood) returns to help, along with the new addition of Mr. Nobody’s daughter, Tess (Brie Larson). Shaw’s mother Queenie also makes an appearance and there are suggestions she will be involved in the sequels’ narrative, making this more of a family affair. Even the newest villain Dante (Jason Momoa) has familial connections to the franchise, as the son of Fast Five’s drug lord bad guy Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). While not every performance in Fast X is praiseworthy (Larson was questionable at best), Momoa has enough fun chewing scenery as Dante to make his addition stand out, even amidst a cast list so bloated that Gal Gadot’s brief appearance implying her return to the franchise is little more than a cameo.
After the sloppy filmmaking and self-serious narrative in F9, Fast X is a return to ridiculous form for the Fast and Furious franchise, overstuffed with movie stars, bad one-liners, and over-the-top action sequences that feel like they come from the imagination of a 10-year-old. And I mean that in the best possible way. This is a franchise that works best when embracing the absurdity of the premise, embodying the spirit of terrible ‘80s action films that knew how to show the audience a good time at the expense of everything else.
And if having a good time is the ultimate goal, there truly is no better way to experience Fast X than in 4DX, which makes the movie feel like a Universal Studios ride that lasts for over two hours. This is the best way to watch a movie like Fast X. Full stop. Now let’s talk about all the reasons why the film experience was enhanced by the format from CJ4DPLEX that has been growing in popularity since its 2009 debut.
Effect 1: Motion and Vibration
The motion of the 4DX in Fast X was so aggressive in some places, it almost felt like going to the movies had turned into an extreme sport. Whether the movement is slowly tilting your seat up to follow camera movement, or to simulate motion during one of the multiple exciting driving/chasing/racing sequences, this effect allows you to connect your experience with the characters onscreen. The vibration is primarily used to simulate the engine rumble while riding in various vehicles central to the franchise. During the film’s climactic action sequence, it nearly felt as though I would be thrown from my seat, and yet they engineered this experience so precisely that my drink and popcorn never once spilled. I still don’t know how they accomplished this, but I loved every minute of the experience.
Effect 2: Back Effects
Along with numerous action scenes taking place in vehicles, Fast X has multiple fight scenes with characters engaging in hand-to-hand combat. Helping to identify with the characters during these scenes, there is an effect which allows the audience to experience the impact when characters onscreen are forced to endure blows. It is more of a poke than a hit, protruding somewhere hidden beneath the padding of the chair’s back, effective not for the pain it causes but rather the shock from an unexpected assault.
Effect 3: Air Blasts
These bursts of air can come from both the seat in front of you to hit you directly in the face, or they may also come from the headrest of your seat to simulate something just missing hitting your head. The front blasts in Fast X were mostly used in combination with water, but the main focus seemed to be the ones in the headrest. They were often used to simulate bullets whizzing by the audiences’ head during shoot out sequences, though sometimes these blasts felt a little random and over-used. Of all the effects, these felt the least precisely designed to go with the action in the film. It is a matter of preference, but I wouldn’t have minded if these air blasts had been used a bit more sparingly.
Effect 4: Leg Ticklers
The leg ticklers are a couple of moving tubes (or some variation) that hit the back of your legs to simulate movement. I imagined they would be perfect for a horror movie involving creatures moving around underfoot, but in Fast X they are used for the feeling of debris during car crashes in some of the larger action sequences. Like the air blasts, there were times when this effect felt a bit random and not understandably connected to what was happening onscreen, but it was effective more often than not.
Effect 5: Water Elements
As previously mentioned, the air blasts coming from the front are often used with water effects. In Fast X, this is usually when a vehicle or character lands in water, to simulate the splashing of water. There are also several instances where water came from above to simulate falling water. There weren’t big rain sequences, so this effect was minimal in Fast X. I was also sitting in the middle of the theater, and in this particular Regal the water came from the side, which may have limited some of the impact where I was seated. The quality of some of the effects (as well as which ones are available) can sometimes depend on individual theaters.
Element 6: Floodlights
Often utilized to simulate lightning and explosions, some 4DX theaters are equipped with large floodlights that flash on the sides near the front of the screen. There are multiple explosions in Fast X, though the theater I was in didn’t have the floodlights. I imagine those equipped with them would find use within many of high-octane moments of Fast X.
Element 7: Wind
The wind elements are often used to simulate forward motion in vehicles, and there were countless sequences utilizing this effect in Fast X. The fans were extremely quiet in the theater, so it really did feel like I was being immersed in the film. Along with the seat movements, the fans and wind effects were probably used the most in Fast X. My biggest word of warning to those considering seeing this film in 4DX would be about the chilling effect of the fans. Those prone to feeling cold in theaters should plan accordingly with what you wear, because the added wind can be a bit cold when used as heavily as it is in Fast X.
Element 8: Smoke/Fog Effects
There are a few large explosions in the film, and these are often paired with smoke effects, which fill the theater before the fans clear it away. While not the best use of the smoke/fog that I have seen in 4DX, it was a fun addition to the many explosions found in the film’s narrative. It helps to bring more of the action off the screen and into the theater.
Element 9: Snow
There were only two instances of snow in Fast X, and they were brief. Unfortunately, the theater I was in must have needed maintenance, because the snow effect was much less noticeable than it has been in past films I have watched in the format. Whether the machines were slightly clogged or just in need of more solution, the snow effect was subtle. This is a shame, because when it works properly the snow is one of the more impactful effects used in 4DX.
Fast X is a big dumb movie. A gloriously fun type of dumb that rarely takes itself too seriously, and even when it does, it’s hilariously entertaining just the same. Movies like this deserve to be seen in premium formats, and I’m certain it will make a killing in Imax and Dolby theaters, but I would choose 4DX as my preferred choice every time. The impact and effectiveness of the various elements can depend on individual theaters and how well they are maintained, but even just the movement of the seats was enough to make Fast X a great film in this format. Not only am I eagerly awaiting the next two films planned as the conclusion of the series, but I will also plan on seeing them in the immersive spectacle of a 4DX theater!
Entertainment Value: 10/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 5/10
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