If we can all agree that “jumping the shark” has undeniably become an actual term that really exists for describing the point where an entertainment property strays too far from its initial concept and loses its relevance, then it seems reasonable we would also have to agree that the Fast & Furious franchise seems to be the one property out there that looks to be completely immune from experiencing the phenomenon, no matter how many giant sharks it jumps its souped-up muscle cars over. Most successful movie franchises can spit out three, maybe four films before they start to feel completely tired, but here we are in the pre-production phase of Fast & Furious 7, and the series seems to still be picking up steam. Already we’ve heard about plans they have for a Fast & Furious 8, after all.
If there was any period where it looked like the Fast & Furious franchise was actually going to fly off the rails and lose its profitability, it was with the third film in the series, Tokyo Drift though. That’s the film that failed to sign up franchise stalwarts Vin Diesel and Paul Walker for featured roles, and had to instead rely on telling its story through the eyes of a new protagonist played by Lucas Black. This didn’t work out so well because Black was terrible in the movie, everyone missed Diesel, and Tokyo Drift ended up making less than half of what the next-least profitable film in the series pulled in. The fourth film, Fast and Furious, brought back the old stars, brought back the old profitability, and made it seem pretty obvious that the Lucas Black experiment was dead. Until now.
Deadline is reporting that Fast & Furious 7 director James Wan is ready to tempt fate in the ultimate way by bringing Black back to reprise the painfully annoying character of Sean Boswell and hoping that the fans who roundly rejected him once don’t do it again. That’s not even the extent of the dealings going on though. The report goes on to say that, in addition to appearing in Wan’s Fast & Furious 7, Black’s deal also has language in it that would call for him to become a regular in the series all the way through a potential Fast & Furious 9. That’s quite a bit of confidence the studio is showing that the public is never going to get tired of fast cars and bulging muscles.
But will they? So far the Fast & Furious sequels have exhibited every hallmark of a franchise that has run its course—increasingly complicated setups that feel contrived, too many new characters being added, wandering away from the original conceit and into new genres—and people have still eaten it all up. It seems like the inclusion of Jason Statham in Fast & Furious 7 and the possible inclusion of Kurt Russell in Fast & Furious 8 has been enough to keep up enthusiasm for the series to that point, but aren’t they pushing it by putting plans together for a 9?
Those of us who find these movies to be ridiculous, cartoony drains on our action movie star resources certainly think so, so it would seem that our best hope is going to be that Black really is the bad luck charm that’s going to shut this franchise down. For those of you who are enjoying what these films have to offer, good on you though. It’s at least nice to see the action genre making so many people happy. And maybe Wan’s involvement with 7 will change things up enough to get even those of us who are still holding out on board. His Death Sentence was a terribly awesome action movie, after all. If that proves to be the case, then heck, let’s start making plans for Fast & Furious 10. Life is always better when it includes explosions.