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How Jason Momoa's 'Fast X' story connects to 'Fast Five,' and what we need to remember about that vault scene

Dom and Brian stole more than just money when they made off with millions in Rio.

By Benjamin Bullard
FAST X (2023)

Whew, what a head rush Fast X is shaping up to be. The hugely anticipated penultimate film that begins the sendoff of the Fast Saga as we know it got its first official trailer today, and it’s an action and nostalgia-fueled blast back in time to where Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his adopted street racing family have been — as well as where they’re going.

It’s also a look back, with completely fresh eyes, at some of the franchise’s most pivotal events. In an eye-opening flashback glimpse at the epic Brazilian bank vault heist that served as the set-piece finale of 2011’s Fast Five, series newcomer Jason Momoa is introduced in the trailer as deliciously wicked Fast X main villain, Dante.

RELATED: 'Fast X' director says Jason Momoa's revenge-obsessed villain is 'the anti-Dom'

No one could’ve known it back in 2011 — not even Dom and Brian (the late Paul Walker) themselves — but Dante is revealed to be the son of Fast Five Brazilian drug overlord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), who died trying to stop Brian and Dom from making off with the ill-gotten millions he’d secreted away in the depths of a bought-and-paid-for Rio police station. With his father dead and his loot stolen, it’s a defining moment in Dante’s life — so much so, in fact, that hitting back at Dom where it hurts the most becomes Dante’s whole raison d’etre.

Watch early in the clip for the “new” Fast Five moment when those 2011 vault walls blow open, showing for the first time a seriously ticked-off young Dante — a villain in the making as he beholds his life unraveling with Dom and Brian lassoing the vault away:

Robbery isn’t a victimless crime, it turns out — even to other criminals. The Rio vault heist might’ve scored each member of the fam the life they’d always dreamed of, but as the flashback reveals, it also left Momoa’s Dante staring through a bombed-out empty hole. Losing both his fortune and his father set Dante on a dark path of revenge, as director Louis Leterrier explained to Entertainment Weekly, with deep parallels between Dom’s own tragic paternal loss and Dante’s superhero-villain determination to make meaning from the loss of his own family…by vengefully destroying Toretto’s.

“We took these [Fast Five] scenes, and we created it through the eyes of the other guys,” said Leterrier, who described Dante as “pure evil” and “obsessed with Dom.”

“We see them [the villains] from afar and they're like, ‘Take them out. They're bad guys, they stole our safe.’ That's what's interesting — by doing so, you guide the audience to rethink everything they've experienced in the entire franchise. Sure, your experience was ‘that's the right thing to do’: the truths through the eyes of Dom and the family. But the antagonists always had their point of view and their truth that's quite different from the other one. A good antagonist has their own truth, so that's what we [wanted to explore].”

Here's a killer clip of how Fast Five's original vault scene unfolded, complete with behind-the-scenes insights from Diesel. Compare and contrast what the new Fast X trailer adds to one of the most iconic action scenes in movie history:

Fast X isn't retconning earlier Fast & Furious lore with Dante's dark backstory; it's shading in a new interpretation of previously untold events from the point of view of a character who was there the whole time. Just as the apparent death of Han (Sung Kang) in third Fast & Furious movie Tokyo Drift was later revealed to be part of a bigger picture, so too is the vault heist from Fast Five now a pivotal Fast Saga moment beyond just its original nine-figure payday.

“That's a great origin story where you see the two of them and how Dom created Dante,” Leterrier told EW, adding that “Dom's father and Dante's father met their maker the same way, but one is responsible for the other's death. There are strong ties between the two of them, and that for me is what makes an amazing villain because you understand why they became this and why they're chasing the protagonist…He's studied Dom for years, and he actually forged himself as the anti-Dom.”

RELATED: Jason Momoa is our new, favorite knife-licking villain as he takes on Vin Diesel in first ‘Fast X’ trailer

Dante’s not the only baddie the family will have to deal with in Fast X, which hasn’t forgotten about Charlize Theron’s demented tech manipulator Cipher. A late-moment scene in the trailer shows Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Cipher waking up in a mysterious laboratory-looking place, with Letty’s first words — “You’ve got to be kidding me” — signaling the dogged persistence, on multiple fronts, of all the enemies the family will have to topple as Dom looks to secure a safe upbringing for his son Brian (whom he affectionately refers to in the trailer as “Little B”).

Even with everything the new trailer revealed today, we still get the sense that Fast X has a few more surprises up its sleeve. We’re only a season away from the starting line: The light at last turns green on May 19, when Fast X rolls into theaters nationwide.

Relive a portion of the Fast Saga with Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7 — both of which are streaming on Peacock. If you want even more Vin Diesel action, then be sure to check out xXxPitch BlackThe Chronicles of Riddick, and Riddick.