New Fast X Trailer: You Gotta Respect A Silly Franchise That Takes Itself So Seriously

Hollywood can be seen as an industry that's constantly racing after a seemingly impossible goal, a finish line that always remains just out of sight: what is the best way to make a repeatable success? What is the formula that creates a successful franchise? How does one live life a quarter-mile at a time?

It turns out that the "Fast & Furious" franchise may have held the answers this entire time: Family, Love, Respect, and Earnestness are the pillars on which this improbably continuing series is built, and no matter how many criticisms, witticisms, or post-ironic judgments are tossed at it, the sheer open-hearted emotion that's present within the films and the characters seem to win out every time.

That near-assured victory looked dubious for the upcoming latest (and, allegedly, penultimate) installment of the series, "Fast X,' when original director Justin Lin stepped down at the beginning of shooting, leaving Louis Leterrier to take his place. Yet, as the trailer for the film that dropped today demonstrates, the key ingredient for the series' success appears to be firmly in place: despite copious amounts of car-based silliness, the "Fast" saga takes itself beautifully, gloriously seriously, and that's how it continues to win.

Check out the new Fast X trailer here

Dubbed the "Open Road" trailer, the newest preview shows a variety of footage from all the "Fast" films that focus heavily on the tumultuous relationship between Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez).

Ever since the original "The Fast and the Furious," Dom and Letty have been romantically linked, and their bond of love has remained mostly intact despite a series of increasingly outrageous events occurring over the course of the franchise. Your relationship may have its ups and downs, but it's likely that you haven't lost the love of your life in a car accident, discovered that the accident happened in part because she was working undercover for your FBI agent friend, hooked up with another woman while hiding out in South America only to discover that your once-thought-dead love is actually alive but has amnesia, traveled across the world to save her, crashed a Dodge Charger into a helicopter to help her regain her memories, discovered your other woman had your baby before being murdered and subsequently asked your now-regained love to raise this new child with you, and then had to deal with your long-lost estranged brother trying to kill you both. I mean, it's not likely, but it could happen.

The point is, there's a lot to contemplate, and boy does the "Open Road" trailer do some contemplating. The mood of the trailer is so reflective, in fact, that it uses a needle drop that is the Big Whammy of emotional needle drops: Max Richter's "On the Nature of Daylight," a piece that's previously been used to incredible effect in "Arrival" and, recently, HBO's "The Last of Us." What's more, this version is mashed-up with blues legend Dinah Washington's vocals from "This Bitter Earth," lending even more gravitas to the Dom/Letty highlight reel.

Take yourself seriously and others will, too

As Washington's vocals and Richter's strings swell over footage from "Fast X" of a flaming runaway boulder colliding with Dom's Dodge Charger, one can feel the exquisite tension between visuals so nakedly frivolous and music so achingly earnest. That's the secret "Fast" formula in a nutshell, though: like Diesel's stone-faced expression, the minute you crack wise is the minute you lose your integrity.

It's an odd lesson to take in, given that the current blockbuster landscape is polluted with rampant irony and self-reference, to mostly successful results. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has arguably built its empire on snark; after all, its lynchpin was Robert Downey Jr., an actor whose entire screen persona is crafted around snide sarcastic commentary. Though Downey Jr. and Marvel are also capable of great earnestness, the blend has proven so attractive to other filmmakers that it's become difficult to take a lot of recent films seriously when they can't seem to take themselves at face value, either.

The specialness of the "Fast" series embodied by this latest trailer is that, in taking itself with such a huge degree of seriousness, it's essentially become ridicule-proof. These films know they're ridiculous — an entire subplot in "F9" was devoted to Roman (Tyrese Gibson) marveling at how improbable it is that they're all still alive — and they don't care, choosing to embrace rather than dismiss.

If the "Open Road" trailer is any indication of how "Fast X" will treat the impending closing act of the "F&F" saga, then we seem to be in for a unique treat: a franchise that has stuck to its principles all the way until the end of the road. Here's hoping that the series and its near-Shakespearean levels of betrayals, couplings, reversals, and resurrections goes out on a high note when "Fast X" opens on May 19, 2023.