There’s a new Fast & Furious release on physical media today, so let’s check in with director Louis Leterrier‘s commentary on the tenth entry in the franchise, Fast X (2023).
Over time the Fast & Furious movies have become gargantuan, out of this world (sometimes literally) action blockbusters. Featuring a deep bench of action stars, the plot mechanics have often strained credibility in pursuit of high octane thrills.
Fast X marked the departure of franchise regular Justin Lin and was helmed by French director Leterrier, working from a script by Lin and Dan Mazeau.
Plot Synopsis: Jason Momoa wreaks havoc as Dante, the (previously unseen) son of Fast Five villain Hernan Reyes. Dante is seeking revenge on the entire Corona-drinking “family” for the events of that film.
Film Verdict: It’s all fairly preposterous and features far too many characters and disconnected subplots, though the cast is impressive and Momoa’s queer-coded villain is iconic. 3/5
Credit to Rob Hunter (Film School Rejects) for the template for this piece
Fast X (2023)
Commentator: Louis Leterrier
- The Brazil flashbacks were shot on 35mm with the original cameras that were used for Fast Five, then digitally altered using 2023 special effects. The dailies from Justin Lin’s film were also incorporated, though these sequences feature a brand new sound design and sound mix to give it “a new style.”
- Filming Little B (Leo Abelo Perry) doing donuts in LA was “the most fun day to shoot.” Leterrier saw it as an opportunity to bring the franchise back to Dodgers Stadium, which is where Bryan (Paul Walker‘s character) learned how to drive.
- Leterrier was encouraged to let the cast improvise, so most of the Fantastic Four’s dialogue, especially Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese), is improvised. “Every take was different.”
- The garage scene wasn’t in the original screenplay. There’s a feeling of history in it that they wanted to capture, so a “walk through memory lane” was included to help establish where Dom (Vin Diesel)’s head is when the film opens and who he has lost along the way.
- “Hold us in your heart and you will never lose your way” was Rita Moreno’s contribution. She ad-libbed it on the day and they decided to keep it as a testament to the power of love.
- This is the first Fast film that asks the audience to follow multiple timelines and the production team embraced it.
- Momoa’s first day was shooting the Cipher (Charlize Theron) flashback and he was finding his character. He gave Leterrier so much in the dailies because he leaned into the playfulness of the villain, including licking the blood from the knife. “He went for it.”
- Leterrier praises Theron’s ability to act during her action scenes, explaining that she finds the character in the scenes rather than looking like she’s trying to remember the choreography.
- The director recognizes how “fun” Dante is: “it’s rare that you want to spend as much time with your villain as you do with your heroes.”
- Jason Momoa did all of his own motorcycle stunts. “He’s a great rider.”
- All of the Rome stunts were actually done practically, including flipping the truck, swiping Han (Sung Kang)’s Lamborghini and rolling the giant bomb ball down the streets.
- The exception was the Spanish steps sequence. They built a partial model of it, and shot on the actual location without any cars, but most of it is CGI. Filming in Rome requires a lot of preparation because you can’t damage anything: the buildings, the stones, not even the trees.
- Lettie is riding a motorcycle in the film principally so that they could do the stunt where she spins and hops each wheel over the obstruction Dante leaves in the alley. The production was sent a real video of the stunt and desperately wanted to recreate it.
- The ringing of the bells in Rome symbolizes “the birth of Dante” as he turns the world against our heroes.
- As someone “with no allegiance,” Helen Mirren‘s Queenie is the only one Dom will listen to.
- Leterrier jokes that the most important shot in the film is when a pan gets thrown during the attack on Mia (Jordana Brewster)’s house…because he’s the one who throws it. “I’m an action director and an action actor.”
- There was a contest on set for who was the kindest and John Cena was the hands-down winner.
- Brie Larson is a huge fan of the franchise, so she had dinner with Vin and his family and they came up with her character Tess together. The writing on the back of Tess’ jacket was actually modelled off writing by Vin’s real-life daughter. “So much of these real characters are based on real actors.”
- Cena selected Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s ‘Good Vibrations’ as the song he plays in the car with Little B because Cena knew all of the words.
- Momoa pitched his take on Dante as “A freshly screwed-with peacock” beaming with love for his enemy. Unsurprisingly, a lot of Dante’s lines were improvised (Joe’s note: Sadly the commentary has no insight on the queer-coding of the character)
- The tracking shot backwards past the drivers at the start line of the Rio race was done practically. It’s also the first time this shot has been done in the franchise.
- Dante’s scene in the bathrobe – where he’s painting the nails of Cipher’s two dead tech nerds – was shot as a DVD extra, but it tested so well (“it became iconic”) that they had to keep it in.
- On Pete Davidson‘s cameo: “We had so many options. Some were too funny and people were rolling in the aisles. It was throwing the balance of the movie off and the stakes out there were too real.”
- All of the pictures of Jason Statham “and his various haircuts” from the files are real and undoctored.
- The flight attendant in Jakob and Little B’s plane sequence had never acted before. “She’s good. She’s really good. And now she’s an actress.”
- The height of the hatch with the glider was very low, so John Cena was very glad to stand up after shooting there all day (he’s 6’4)
- Leterrier was very excited to be reunited with his The Transporter star Statham and pay off #JusticeForHan in a very Fast & Furious way: “With a big, full fight”
- Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez)’s reveal when she opens the hatch in Antarctica was Leterrier’s first day on set.
- It was so hot filming in Portugal that they literally fried an egg on the hood of a car just to see if they could.
- Fun fact: The dam from the finale is where 1965’s Doctor Zhivago was filmed.
- Leterrier has been dreaming about filming a sequence like the one in this film since he was five years old. “This is the moment I’ve been wanting to see in the movies for the last forty years.”
- About Gal Gadot’s cameo/return to the series as Gisele: “It was all part of the plan…since she disappeared.” (Joe’s note: this is highly suspect).
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“If you think of it as a superhero film, the cars are their superpowers”
“It’s a movie about a street race, so let’s have a street race.”
“I love that he has dust in his pocket. That makes no sense. I love it”
On Cipher and Lettie working together: “There’s such great tension between them. The looks.”
“That man is going to become one of the greatest action movie stars.”
“Snacks are involved. Screaming bags are involved.”
“We brought some of that Transporter humour into Fast.”
“He’s getting under the audience’s skin. You love to hate Dante.”
“That’s the battle in the Fast & Furious movies: the battle between light and darkness.”
“The stories are coming together in a very organic way. That’s the beauty of Justin (Lin)’s script.”
“You can give [Alan] Richtson the phone book and he will sell it.”
“It’s bloody and stained, with all of the lives at stake.”
“That’s the power of Fast & Furious. You can take them apart but the family always come back together…and Dom leads with love.”
“It’s a good old canon car.”
On Jakob’s death: “This is the most beautiful brotherly act that you can do. It’s really beautiful.”
“Car physics helping Dom to save his son…Leaps of faith are very important in Fast & Furious movies.”
“No Fast has ever done this: a ‘to be continued’ that will need a lot of new alliances, people from the past coming back.”
“There’s so much gas left in this franchise.”
Fast X is out now on 4K, Blu, DVD and Digital with more than one hour of bonus features.