Note: Below are lots of spoilers about Fast X, so proceed with caution — a thing that no one in these movies ever does.
Fast X delivers exactly what we’ve been trained to expect from a Fast & Furious movie: excessively macked-out sports cars, schlocky dialogue that acts mainly as a bridge from one preposterous car chase to the next, action sequences so over-the-top you can almost hear Tom Cruise mumbling to himself, “Damn, why didn’t I think of that?” and tons of characters who are all somehow blood relatives of other characters previously introduced in the franchise. But if the Fast series is about one thing, besides showing off bright orange Lamborghinis, it’s about family.
On the off chance you ever forget this, every one of these movies will remind you by having characters say the word family out loud constantly. The Fast saga is helpful like that. It bluntly highlights its central themes with all of the subtlety of a massive bomb that kinda resembles the Death Star barreling through the streets of Rome — a thing that actually happens in Fast X.
That’s why I decided that I had one mission on entering the theater: to count all the times the word family is uttered in this blockbuster summer release. The only tools at my disposal, because I forgot my notebook, were a pen, the back of a receipt, some extra pieces of paper helpfully provided to me by colleague Roxana Hadadi, and my ability to stay focused despite whatever the hell Jason Momoa is doing in this movie. (Thanks to both Roxana and fellow critic Travis Hopson for making sure I didn’t miss any.) With the caveat that I was taking notes in the dark and my handwriting is not entirely legible, this is the complete list of references to family in Fast X.
1–3. Within roughly the first ten minutes of Fast X, Rita Moreno — who plays Abuelita Toretto and looks fabulous doing it — busts out the word familia three times. Damn, slow down, Rita. I’m already running out of room on this receipt!
4. Family is mentioned when Dom first encounters Dante Reyes (Momoa), son of a drug lord killed five Fast movies ago who has now decided to seek revenge by stealing every single scene in this film — along with trying to torture Dom and kill everyone he loves. Which is why the word family comes up, though I can’t remember whether Vin Diesel or Momoa says it. But who cares? Family No. 4!
5. Bringing the former Aquamen count in Fast X to two, Alan Ritchson enters the Fast franchise as Aimes, new head of Mr. Nobody’s agency. “It’s like a cult with cars,” he says while describing Dom and his crew. “Everyone becomes family.”
6 & 7. Brie Larson enters the Fast franchise in the role of Tess — Mr. Nobody’s daughter, obviously — and gives this film its sixth and, if my notes are accurate, seventh mentions of family. (I could not write down her exact quotes quickly enough, but given the quality of the dialogue in Fast X, I think we can all agree that’s probably for the best.)
8. Helen Mirren, the Shaw family matriarch, shows up just long enough to get in a couple mentions of family. First, she warns Dom that Dante & Co. cooked up a fake mission for Dom’s crew because they “wanted to isolate you from your family.”
9. Mirren’s Queenie Shaw points out that “gladiators never had families,” which means that gladiators were less easily manipulated, I guess? Look, I don’t know, but we’re already at almost ten mentions of family less than an hour into this thing.
10. Dante — our villain but also the name of that guy who wrote Inferno, get it?? — announces that Dom’s entire inner circle is on his murder radar. “Until we find him, find his family.”
11. Jakob Toretto — that would be John Cena — warns his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) that “the whole family is being targeted.” Did you know that practically everyone who has ever shown up in a Fast movie was contractually obligated to pop in Fast X? Okay, that’s probably not true, but it very much feels true.
12. Dante refers to his Rome bomb stunt as “a little homage to my family’s safe” — a reference to the safe that Dom and Brian (RIP, Paul Walker) hauled onto a bridge in Fast Five, causing enormous infrastructural damage to the city of Rio de Janeiro. Don’t worry if you don’t remember that moment. The beginning of Fast X replays most of that sequence, which made me wonder whether future Fast installments will eventually turn into 40 percent clip shows. Would anyone mind that much if they did?
13. In my notes, I wrote, “Reyes family — sister,” and I believe this means that Dante makes a reference to Mia, but I am not positive. I’m sure, though, that this is the 13th use of the word family in Fast X and that it was 8:28 p.m., or less than 90 minutes in, when I wrote it down.
14. The great honor of saying the 14th family in Fast X goes to … Pete Davidson? Yeah, he took a break from Bupkus, Taco Bell commercials, and generating celebrity-dating gossip to make a cameo in this film, during which he shouts, “This is a family environment!” during a brutal fight sequence.
15. As Cipher, an enemy of Dom and his team who, at least for the purposes of this movie, is kinda sorta not an enemy, Charlize Theron asks Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), “Don’t you want to get back to your precious family?” I mean, obviously she does but, like, she can still make time to try to kick Cipher’s ass. Priorities!
16–18. Momoa, whose performance in Fast X could teach a new generation of gearheads what camp looks like, says the word family three times in quick succession. Which is wild, because Dom has only said it once, at most, so far?
19. Momoa says the word family in a singsong tone meant to mock Dom. This dude is having the time of his life
20. “You know what your problem is? Family,” says Dante to Dom. “You can’t save them all.” I agree. There are way too many people in this movie, and it’s because Dom keeps adding more members to his “family.” Put some people on a wait list or something. It’s too much.
21. Dante (Momoa) says family again, and I mark it down, although I’ve basically stopped listening to the context in which it is being (over)used.
22. Aimes more or less repeats Dante’s previous line — “That’s the problem with having a big family: You can’t save them all” — and gifts us with the final family in Fast X.
That brings the family total in Fast X to 22, which is 10 x 2 + 2, which equals this movie giving you your money’s worth, goddamn it. While I did not have the bandwidth to count all the mentions of family in the previous Fast movies and spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, then create handy charts for comparison, this feels like a lot of family drops for a single movie.
It’s worth noting that Momoa is responsible for nine of the 22 families — ten if No. 4 on this list was his line, not Diesel’s — and that’s almost half of the family total. I told you this guy was on a mission to steal this movie. Mission accomplished, Momoa!
More on Fast X
- Which Ex-DCEU Star Should Join the Fast Family Next?
- I Am Begging the Fast and Furious Movies to Finally Kill Off Some Characters
- Stepping in to Finish Directing Fast X Wasn’t Stressful at All, No Sir