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‘Fast X’ is child’s play; ‘Air’ has got game

“Fast X” (Rated T)

Cast: Vin Diesel, Jason Momoa, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena,

Tyrese Gibson

Genre: Action/Adventure

Where to watch: In theaters

Dwight’s Rating:

The “sour candy” of film franchises returns with another “off-putting delight”!

We know the kids – and plenty adults – love their sour candy. A few seconds of squirming and grimacing followed by that joyous sweetness. There’s apparently a similar sensation (except for the sweetness) with those stupidly-intense tortilla chips (you know the brand!).

If you only eat one or two, you’ll likely walk away thinking only the criminally-insane would want to have more of these things. But fans will tell you that if you can muster up to strength to power through a whole bag, the more you eat of this nonsense, the more you can stomach the nonsense. Hmmm!

“The Fast and Furious” franchise actually began as a reasonably tasty meal, but it has devolved into a very unhealthy snack – with nutritional values in the negative digits (you’re also accelerating braincell depletion with each new edition).

But like with most unhealthy snacks, boy oh boy, can they be yummy! And while “Fast X” is a ridiculous, preposterous film, it is highly entertaining!

That X is for the Roman numeral 10, as this is the 10th installment in this series, which dates back to 2001 (not including spinoffs like “Hobbs & Shaw”).

And I was all prepared to write about how – with the letter F being a common thread in the words “Fast” and “Furious” and the franchise’s hilarious obsession with “Family” – the film deserved an actual “F” grade. And that it was perhaps time for this whole thing to go away. But alas. No. This foolishness unbelievably brightened my day. Yes, open another bag of that sour candy, please!

What’s the plot this time? Does it really matter?

Well, as you know by now, after more than 20-years, and over many missions and against impossible odds, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his “family” have outsmarted and outdriven every foe in their path. Now, they must confront the most lethal opponent they’ve ever faced. Fueled by revenge, a terrifying threat emerges from the shadows of the past to shatter Dom’s world and destroy everything – and everyone – he loves.

As stated, the X in “Fast X” is for 10. But it possibly also represents the age of the writer. Clearly, a child or a group of preteen children penned this script. Unless, we’re all now fully in agreement that in his advancing age, Vin Diesel can only recite lines as if he were always playing that tree limb Groot, which he voices in “The Guardians of Galaxy” franchise.

And it’s not just Diesel acting like he’s a human form of one of the muscle cars in which these folks are always speeding around. Returning co-stars Michelle Rodriguez, and the very-unfunny Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, deliver performances that would be embarrassing if they were kids in a school recital. Other new cast members are even more robotic (I’m looking at you Alan Ritchson).

Some of the biggest names in entertainment are part of the cast too, including a number of Oscar-winning actresses. But the Academy might want to consider having a discussion with Helen Mirren (“The Queen”), Charlize Theron (“Monster”), Brie Larson (“Room”) and Rita Moreno (“West Side Story”) about the types of roles they consider. (Unless this is all about the money, well then, “You Go, Girls!”)

And perhaps those child-writers can consider naming the next installment (there will be at least two more) “Fast & Furious Days of Our Lives”, because like the most ridiculous daytime dramas, none of the characters previously “killed off” can stay dead. They just keep coming back, every single time.

This series has long defied logic, sense and gravity. But we are firmly into sci-fi territory now. Characters (usually the bad ones) are hopping about the globe at beyond supersonic speeds, all while others (our trusty “family” crew, mainly) seem to be moving about at a pace that would frustrate snails.

Nevertheless, there are a few bright spots. John Cena returns after the previous installment, “F9”, once again as the estranged brother whom this very close “family” never ever-ever talked about in 20 years. Apparently “Uncle Jakob” is now firmly back in the fold.

Cena’s Jakob is uncle to Dom’s kid Brian played by another bright light, 10-year-old Leo Abelo Perry (could he have been one of the writers?). Young Perry could teach his onscreen father Vin a thing or two (hundred) about facial expressions and reactions and line delivery.

But the shocking true star and very best thing about “Fast X” is Jason Momoa (“Aquaman”) as new villain Dante Reyes. Dante’s seeking revenge for his father’s death from one the nine previous movies (but this is “Fast & Furious” – is he really dead??), and he’s prepared to destroy the entire world, with nuclear weapons. So, yes, he’s a complete lunatic!

Momoa plays the role with great relish, even if the character’s highly effeminate behavior is unexplained. It is a bizarre and questionable choice, but doesn’t take away from the fact that Momoa is one of the few actors really trying here, while most of the others are on cruise control. Thankfully, it looks like we’ll get to see more of him in whatever comes next.

There sure is a lot of silly, child-like things happening in “Fast X” – stuff that would make the powers-that-be at Cartoon Network consider canceling their shows if their producers tried some of this wackiness.

“Air” (US- Rated R)

Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker

Genre: Drama, Sports

Where to watch: In theaters, Amazon Prime Video

Dwight’s Rating:

Yes, “Air” was released in theaters last month, but if you missed it, it’s now on Amazon Prime Video. And you should do yourself a favor – don’t miss it!

That’s whether or not you like basketball or Michael Jordan or Nike or Air Jordans. “Air” is one of the best movies so far for 2023.

It follows the history of shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) and Nike, as they pursue basketball rookie Michael Jordan, creating a partnership that revolutionizes the world of sports and contemporary culture.

The cast is superb: Damon, Ben Affleck (the film’s director) as Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight, Oscar-winner Viola Davis as Jordan’s mom Deloris, along with the always-wonderful Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, and many others who simply shine, making the most of Affleck’s wonderful (and now almost legendary) directing skills, and a beautiful screenplay by Alex Convery, with witty dialogue in the way adults actually speak.

One questionable choice is that you never really see – and barely hear – Michael Jordan. Everyone reacts and talks to and around him. Affleck says it was intentional, basically so as not to draw unnecessary or unfair comparisons to a larger-than-life superstar.

Perhaps seeing Jordan might make some assume the film is a biography. But while there are parallels between his story and that of Nike – as both “underdogs” ascended to meteoric levels of popularity at about the same time – this is definitely more about Nike and the Air Jordan brand.

What’s remarkable is how much this story is inspiring and touching. Tell me why I started to shiver and tear up when the first-ever Nike Air Jordans are unveiled and appear onscreen? And that same reaction repeats itself at various other points in the picture.

Again, basketball lovers, Chicago Bulls fans (and even Los Angeles fans, now that the Losers … err Lakers are done for the year), fans of all sports, consumers, and lovers of history and pop culture, this movie has something for every-one. Watch it! (And I’m sorry, but I can’t help myself …) “Just Do It!”

• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.