Was Fast X Good?
Movies have been a part of our entertainment spectrum since 1903 when The Great Train Robbery was released. It was a silent action movie about (spoiler alert) a train robbery.
Since that humble beginning, there has been a broad range of films, from epic blockbusters to minor projects that got canceled before filming. The genres include action, western, horror, animated, fantasy, thriller, crime, etc.
Movies are a popular pastime for most people, and I watch at least five per week. As proof of my obsession, I have rated (put stars on) 3,706 Netflix DVD titles. Side note: Netflix is discontinuing its DVD service. Bummer!
Since 1998, I regularly visit the same movie theater with my friends on Thursday nights. We have a simple routine. Eat dinner at one of five regular restaurants and then pick a film to watch.
On May eleventh, we watched the movie Fast X. It was the tenth in the Fast and The Furious franchise. Like most action movies, there were epic car chases, guns, beautiful girls, over-the-top effects, epic locations, and dramatic confrontations. I had a so-so reaction to the previous films and watched this one with modest expectations.
We have a moviegoing tradition of applying a letter grade at the film’s end. Usually, we all agree, but sometimes there are radical differences. That evening, our rating ranged from C to a D+.
Why did this film receive such low grades? I don’t appreciate trashing artistic creations that many people worked hard on, so I will tread lightly with my answer. The big problem was that they modeled the villain after the Joker from the 1966 Batman television show, so he was impossible to take seriously. The plot was confusing, unrealistic, and there were many holes.
I can sum the problems up with the tagline (equivalent to when Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “I’ll be back”) “You made one mistake. You never took my car.” What does that mean? All four of us did not know. After the movie, I searched the internet and learned that many other viewers were also confused. A super-fan translated, “If you had tried to steal my car, that would have upset me, and I would have come after you harder.” Wow, that was a leap that even Evel Knievel could not jump. Why didn’t he say, “I’m a better driver.” “I’m so furious right now.” “Nobody can beat me.”
Not every film is perfect, but I did not want to explore that topic. When we saw the film, the theater was packed. The audience’s reaction (except us) was universal. BEST MOVIE EVER! Many people clapped at the end. Were we watching the same screen?
Most audience members talked through the credits about the fantastic plot and how much they looked forward to the next. As we were leaving, five people said they would see the movie in the theater again.
My adverse reaction should be a simple “not my cup of tea.” Meaning that people like what they like and hate what they do not. For example, I enjoyed the movie Super Troopers, and most viewers hated it. On the other side of that coin, I was not too fond of The Da Vinci Code, and many viewers felt it was a powerful movie with an epic plot that spanned the globe.
It is perfectly fine not to like a movie that other people enjoy. Creators take risks, and sometimes they fail. And I concede that Fast X had several wonderful scenes.
However, I think something else was going on with me. Why didn’t the audience say, “Wow, great special effects! But there were a few issues.” Nobody in the audience (except for my friends) was discussing the glaring issues. This disconnection made me think the problem was with me (us). Perhaps in my old age, I expect more or analyze better. Perhaps I hold plots to a higher standard because of my modest writing ability. I recall loving The Dukes of Hazzard television show as a child and now see it as a poor program. Could being an adult be the issue?
How should I solve my dilemma? I could read reviews to understand why people liked or disliked the film. No, that would be a mistake because all negative reviews point out flaws, no matter how small. My favorite movies also have plot flaws, awful scenes, and errors. Was the audience aware of the issues, and they ignored them? Was this a case of enjoying the previous film, and momentum carried the audience along?
Here is my theory. This movie was too big to fail. Why? The other films in the franchise also had issues because they were supposed to. Fast X is a big action movie about fast driving, as were the prior films. The creators made a summer blockbuster, not a film meant to convey a deep message, such as Schindler’s List.
The problem with me is that I completely missed the film’s point. This was akin to watching a nature documentary and getting disappointed because Arnold Schwarzenegger was not shooting aliens.
I now understand that I went into the theater with the wrong expectations. I should have sat back, enjoyed the kooky dialog and fantastic car chases while ignoring the problems.
So, I have learned that I need to better set my expectations before watching a movie. Fast X was a funny, unrealistic, entertaining action movie and nothing more. That’s probably a good thing.

You’re the best -Bill
June 14, 2023
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