“I’ll see you soon.”
That memorable goodbye from Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) at the end of Fast Five might as well have also served as the final words of Fast X—considering Johnson’s shocking appearance in the mid-credits tag.
Fast X acted, in different ways, as a full-circle return to the Rio de Janeiro-set Fast Five, the consensus high point of the Fast & Furious franchise. (At least if you ask Ludacris.) The opening of the 10th and (maybe) penultimate installment shows Fast Five’s climactic safe heist from a different perspective: that of the hilariously psychotic Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), whose drug kingpin father, Hernan (Joaquim de Almeida), was Fast Five‘s big bad. Papa Reyes loses the battle against Dom and the family, with Hobbs pulling the trigger as payback for Reyes’s goons taking out his team.
While there’s a lot going on, the driving engine of Fast X is Dante’s revenge mission against Dom and those closest to him. Throughout the film, we see pictures of Hobbs, but Fast X conveniently ignores that Hobbs was the one who technically killed Hernan. Ordinarily, you could call this a plot hole (and, as much as I love Fast, even I can admit that there are quite a few in X), but the franchise clearly had to overlook that fact due to the very public beef between Diesel and Johnson.
The bad blood publicly began in 2016, when Johnson called out some of his “candy ass” Fast male costars, a reference that was confirmed to be about Diesel. While their characters (kind of) shared the screen in 2018’s The Fate of the Furious, the actors never actually worked together. Johnson then led his own spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw, alongside Jason Statham, and subsequently sat out 2021’s F9. With the end of the franchise looming, Diesel posted a plea to Johnson on social media in November 2021, telling his “little brother” that “you must show up, do not leave the franchise idle, you have a very important role to play. Hobbs can’t be played by no other. I hope that you rise to the occasion and fulfill your destiny.” Johnson soon responded by saying there was “no chance” he’d come back, accusing Diesel of “manipulation.”
And yet, at the end of the day, Johnson looked himself in the mirror—and maybe flexed out of an arm cast—and said, “Daddy’s gotta go to work!” Johnson and Hobbs have officially re-entered the main Fast series, and it’s somehow even more shocking than the recent revivals of assumed-dead characters like Han (Sung Kang) in F9 and Gisele (Gal Gadot) in Fast X. For full disclosure, when I pitched this story to my editors a few months ago, the working headline was “Dwayne, Please Come Back.” Yes, I was essentially going to be stealing Vin Diesel’s tactic (I mean, I did already dress up as Dom for two consecutive Halloweens), except I’d probably try to be a little less condescending. So, instead of pressuring Dwayne, I’m here to thank him.
Tank top buddies.
I’ve long been in on The Rock, all the way back to his WWE days. Hell, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, I was ready to pass the action-star belt to him in the extremely underrated The Rundown. But his movie stardom didn’t seem to totally click at first. Johnson couldn’t find his exact acting lane, trying supporting comedy turns, bad sci-fi flicks, B-level action vehicles, and a bunch of unmemorable movies aimed at kids. Then came Fast Five, which I’m on record as declaring as not just the best Fast movie, but also the best Rock movie.
As special agent and bounty hunter Luke Hobbs, Johnson is electric from the moment he debuts in the franchise. During his opening monologue, in which Johnson tells a local Rio cop what he needs, his commanding presence is obvious. But his arrival is given an exclamation point when he’s asked about his second request, which is: “Stay the fuck out of my way.” That sets the whole tone for the character—and, more importantly, the dynamic between Hobbs and Dom, with a couple of epic showdowns on tap. First, as gallons of sweat drip cover Johnson, Hobbs and Dom engage in a standoff, super-charged with testosterone, seeing the actors bringing the best out of each other. Later, they opt to beat the snot out of each other, with one of the most punishing fights in recent blockbuster movie history.
By the time the credits roll on Fast Five, Hobbs helps Dom and the family steal Reyes’s vault and drag it through the streets of Rio. It’s a sequence that concludes with Hobbs shooting Reyes and giving Dom a 24-hour window to run before he starts hunting him again. A partnership develops between the cop and criminal in Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7. In The Fate of the Furious, they’re at odds again, with Dom temporarily betraying Hobbs and the family. He had his reasons! Now, against all odds, we’re back in business. After Fast X went out with a couple of big cliffhangers (Gisele is alive? Dom is about to explode? Half the team died in a plane crash?!), the mid-credits scene finally finds Dante setting his sights on the man who actually killed his father. When a team of agents infiltrate an abandoned building, one of them discovers a ringing cell phone and answers it. On the other end is Dante, announcing his intentions for vengeance. Taking off his helmet and mask, the agent is revealed to be… Hobbs. “I’m not hard to find, you sumbitch!” Let’s ride!!
Now, could this be a setup for Hobbs & Shaw 2 instead of Fast X Part II? Possible, but unlikely. It will also be important to be on the lookout this weekend or early next week to hear what Johnson and Diesel say about this big homecoming. (I’ve been taking bets on who posts on social media first.) Will they confirm that Hobbs and Dom will see each other soon? Because, if we’re being honest, this might be a situation where we have to wait to watch these two together onscreen again before we believe it. Regardless, this is a much-needed win for everyone involved: Diesel, Johnson, the Fast franchise—and us, the fans. Diesel can take his victory lap. The franchise can move past the beef and fully start building towards the final film and the future beyond that. The fans can get closure on the crackling Hobbs and Dom relationship that became so central to the series.
But the number-one winner? Johnson. Everyone still loves The Rock, but the last few years haven’t been the most successful run for him, even if the Jumanji films were extremely profitable. He dealt with bombs (Baywatch), bad-to-mediocre action fare that left no mark (Red Notice), and the coup de grâce, Black Adam. But, he’s come back to his Fast family, where he’ll get to once again play a beloved character in a beloved franchise, all while being the bigger man.
There are still a lot of questions about Fast X Part II, but one thing is certain: The hierarchy of power in the Fast Universe is about to change.