Oil be back: the Fast and Furiousfranchise, that unlikely but wildly popular mix of gritty car stunts and absurd global espionage, is kicking off this year’s summer blockbuster race with Fast X. What in 2001 seemed like the simplest of premises – Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is a badass LA street racer who loves family but hates sleeves – has become a turbo-charged soap opera featuring a sprawling cast of characters with sweet rides. So what do you really need to know going into the latest instalment? Here’s the quickest read to get you up to speed.
Keeping tabs on the Toretto family tree
When Dom reliably rumbles that he loves family, he’s not kidding. We met sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) in the original film and their burly brother Jakob (John Cena) was a zipline-straining baddie in F9: The Fast Saga. Can all three siblings work together to protect young Marcos (Dom’s secret son introduced in The Fate of the Furious, the result of his liaison with Fast 5 widow Elena)? That’s the main thrust of Fast X, although after seeing how their dad died in F9 flashbacks, we will also finally meet family matriarch Abuela (played by West Side Story queen Rita Morena).
A Fast and Furious baddie who might be the best yet
Antagonists in the F&F fantasy realm tend to be overconfident street racers (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), organised crime figures (Fast and Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast 5) or military-trained murderers who somehow become allies (Fast and Furious 6, Furious 7, F9: The Fast Saga). Fast X makes things personal: Aquaman star Jason Momoa is out to avenge the death of his drug lord father from Fast 5. If that sounds grim, Momoa did not get the memo: his Dante is a flamboyant agent of chaos who dresses like Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen if he was a Street Fighter II arcade character.
The scores that need to be settled
Dante might want his pound of flesh from Dom but there are other grudge matches simmering in Fast X. After a three-film furlough, fan favourite Han (Sung Kang) came back from the dead in F9 and is set to confront his “killer” Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Dom’s true love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) – who similarly came back from the dead in Fast and Furious 6 – also wants to kick the butt of Cipher (Charlize Theron), the sleek super-villain of Fast and Furious 8 who sadly spent most of F9 imprisoned in a perspex box. Will these beefs get squashed in time for the traditional Toretto family barbecue?
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Tyrese Gibson and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges are also in these films
Self-styled smooth-talker Roman (Gibson) and his eye-rolling rival Tej (Bridges) made their F&F debuts in the gaudy Miami-set sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious and have demonstrated remarkable staying power. Tej has evolved from sketchy street bookie to elite hacker but Roman has resisted personal growth. His main job in recent years has been pointing out how ridiculous it is that Dom’s crew have survived all these insanely risky missions. Roman essentially just seems happy to be along for the ride, which makes him the perfect audience surrogate.
Is Fast X the end? Don’t pack up the barbecue tongs just yet
Fast X was confirmed shortly after the 2021 release of F9 and originally came pitched as the first half of a two-part finale to close the series. Part two is set for release in 2025 but while recently promoting the movie in Rome, both Diesel and Rodriguez dropped some heavy hints that it could become a trilogy. But why stop there? Keep that pedal to the metal and see if the most car-obsessed franchise of them all can outlast our reliance on fossil fuels.