While I smiled my way through Fast X, I kept thinking that somewhere Heath Ledger must be flattered. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the 10th mainline film (and 11th overall) in the Fast & Furious series contains a hell of a tribute to Ledger's iconic performance as The Joker.
There's a lot for fans to like in Fast X, but this one performance I speak of is the one thing that makes the movie stand out in the entire Fast timeline. And I'll admit, the movie needed it. In a world where betrayal is as regular as the sun rising and setting, and where cars explode as often as flowers bloom, you need a new element of pure chaos.
And that's why I've got to rave about Jason Momoa's turn as Dante, but expect minor spoilers below. There's nothing I wouldn't have wanted to know before I saw the movie though.
Fast X feels reborn with Jason Momoa's Dante
It took me a minute to see the similarity, but once I figured out that Jason Momoa's performance as Dante is basically a tribute to Ledger's character in The Dark Knight. The similarities come early on with a hostile takeover that's reminiscent of the famous pencil scene.
No, Dante doesn't impale a skull onto a No. 2 pencil, but the way he laughs and saunters around the room, felt like he was vibrating on the same wavelength that Ledger's Joker was. There's a politeness and a formality to it all that's simultaneously unnerving and delightful.
Every time Momoa popped up on screen, I pondered "okay, what is this lunatic going to do now?" He even does the little things in a bizarrely unique way, such as carrying conversations on his own — answering for everyone else. At one point, Dante pretends to use one of our heroes as a puppet, and I couldn't help but smirk at his madness.
Dante's fashion sense, as you might have picked up from the trailers, is also quite unique. His billowing shirts and flourishes of color make him a villain unlike those before him in the saga, and reminded me of the hospital scene where Joker was in pseudo-drag as a nurse.
Momoa also plays Dante as a flirtatious troublemaker, throwing in a little spice here and there to make you question everything he's saying. Just like Ledger's Joker, he constantly applauds his foes' successes, and you can see he loves the game of it all. Yes, Dante may be driven by revenge, but he's also here for a good time.
Outlook: I can't wait to see what Fast does next
As the credits rolled on Fast X, I was excited for the future Fast movies. Again, no spoilers, but as the series gets increasingly hyper-ludicrous, and adds some wooden actors alongside Diesel and Momoa, I can't help but thank the Fast casting gods for a job well done here.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.