Justin Lin

justin-lin-and-michelle-rodriguez-in-furios-si-iute-6-2013--large-picture

We’ve known for a while that True Detective isn’t doing the one-director-per-season thing, because that takes eons longer to film than an average TV show and HBO would very much prefer to run new episodes on a consistent schedule, not whenever a bunch of “time is a flat circle” mystics will it into existence, man. What we haven’t known is which directors will be stepping in to fill the Cary Fukunaga-sized hole left in the series. Until now. Potentially. The Hollywood Reporter names Justin Lin as the first director to be officially courted by HBO. The publication, sporting a stringy ponytail and jamming a penknife into a Lone Star beer can, says he is in talks to direct two episodes of the eight that are coming next season. Probably the first two, but it’s hard to tell amongst the crinkle of metal on metal and THR’s lengthy discussion of how life is memory that’s been locked away and left to rot, and all that remains is something something nihilism, alright alright alright.

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furious6-commentary1

After fourteen years, the Fast & Furious franchise has gone through quite a few changes. The first three films struggled with changing casts and somewhat unconnected storylines. However, after Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, director Justin Lin took the series in a very different direction. He brought back the original cast, then morphed the series from some street racing flicks to a bona fide action franchise complete with international villains and bigger-than-life action sequences. This second trilogy (!) in the series culminates with Fast & Furious 6, which was one of the highest grossing movies of 2013. Lin lends his voice to the commentary track on the film, which was recorded before the tragic death of Paul Walker. Similarly, the DVD and Blu-ray of the film were produced before this event, making a lot of the matter-of-fact comments in the film, the bonus features and the commentary naturally bittersweet. Still, there’s a lot to be learned from Lin’s commentary, which serves as a look back not only at the film, but the franchise as a whole with a great emphasis on the dynamic of those involved behind the scenes.

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justin lin bourne legacy 2

When it was announced earlier this year that James Wan would be taking the reins for the seventh Fast & Furious film the focus was understandably on Wan’s move from micro-budgeted and highly profitable horror films to the blockbuster world of Universal’s biggest franchise. Fast & Furious 6 cost $160 million to produce, while the most expensive of Wan’s films (The Conjuring) topped off at only $20m. The unasked question, at least at the time, was where Justin Lin would go next. As the director of the last four films in the series, Lin has injected nearly $2 billion into Universal’s coffers over the past seven years. He’s been loosely attached to a handful of projects since then for both film and television, but none have seemed very solid or calculated. Until now anyway. Per Deadline, Universal has set Lin to direct and hopefully rejuvenate one of their other franchises. That’s right. We’re getting another Bourne-less Bourne film.

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Resident+Evil+Afterlife

I’m not entirely certain, but I think I’m late to the conversation about “vulgar auteurism.” While I’m sure I’ve heard the hundred-dollar phrase at some point before, it wasn’t until this weekend that my Twitter feed became overloaded with musings about it (and the inevitable punnery – i.e., “vulgar aneurism”). As far as I can see, more has been written in an attempt to either define or dismiss the phrase (or both) than actually practice it. After reading some pro and con pieces about attempts to assess supposedly “disreputable” films by the likes of Justin Lin, Paul W.S. Anderson, and Neveldine/Taylor, I found myself at a crossroads. I’m not convinced that the term has much (if anything) valuable to offer serious criticism, or constitutes a significant intervention within good ol’ auteurist readings. At the same time, I can’t align myself with its critics, notably their implicit or explicit dismissals of the possibility that Hollywood’s postmodern modes of address have anything to offer serious assessments of film as an art form. Thus, in lieu of taking a side in the admittedly insular “debate” about “vulgar auteurism” (think of it as the revenge of “cultural vegetables”), that this debate is happening at all evidences several important points about both the state of mainstream cinema and the role of the discerning critic within it.

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Fast & Furious 6 Airplane Sequence

The most impressive thing about this new Fast & Furious 6 behind the scenes featurette: the lengths to which director Justin Lin and his VFX team go to make as much of the film’s ridiculous final action piece a practical affair. Watching it on the big screen, it’s hard not to assume that most of that carnage was created on a computer, despite the franchise’s long-standing commitment to real cars, real speed and real destruction for 5 consecutive films. Little did we know that a great deal of that huge exploding plane at the end was built by the crew, as you’ll see in this brief but illuminating featurette.

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review furious 6

In 2011, theaters scored the biggest Memorial Day weekend of all time with $276m, led by The Hangover Part II. This year, a third Hangover film found its way to the box office on this holiday weekend, but it was Fast & Furious 6 that dominated while smashing the previous record to bits. With $98.5m domestic, the Justin Lin film took the top spot on a four-day weekend that will be north of $300m total. Plus, with a smaller budget at $160m and massive foreign success, Fast 6 ($275m) is already better positioned than Star Trek Into Darkness ($248m worldwide) with one fewer weekend under its belt. Not to mention it beat Fast Five‘s opening weekend by $12.4m. This is absolutely incredible. When has a sixth entry into a franchise been this big? James Bond aside, it’s remarkable that a series once headed straight to video was resurrected so thoroughly that it now towers over other summer entries. The shorthand version of all this? Get ready for Fast & Furious 7 in 2014 and then gird your loins for Fast & Furious 8-12 in the years to come. As long as they have The Rock and this, they’ll be able to go bigger and make movie fans leave their homes.  

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review furious 6

It seems every summer is ruled by comic book movies these days, and 2013 is set to be no different. Iron Man 3 fired the first shot, and titles like Man of Steel and The Wolverine are waiting in the wings. One big film curiously missing from the conversation though is Furious Six, but just because its characters aren’t splayed across the covers of Marvel or DC comics doesn’t mean they’re not indestructible superheroes here to save the day. O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Dom (Vin Diesel) are living it up in Spain alongside their honeys (Jordana Brewster and Elsa Pataky respectively) thanks to the massive score from their adventure in Rio. Their hulking nemesis Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) appears on their doorstep one morning with a simple deal. If they help him catch a criminal scourge who’s been stealing top secret military hardware and breaking traffic laws then Hobbs will grant them all full pardons back in the USA. The icing on the muscle car-shaped cake is a recent photo he shows them of Dom’s ex, the long thought dead Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who’s now running with the bad guy. Fans of Fast Five will be thrilled to know that the ridiculously over the top antics here make that film look like a pledge-week episode of NPR’s Car Talk. And yeah, I know that’s a radio show. It’s bigger, dumber and more fun than its predecessor, and it knows exactly what its audience wants. That last bit can’t salvage the film’s […]

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James Wan

The Fast and the Furious, successful as it was, probably never really struck anyone as the sort of film that would spawn a franchise that would make it to its seventh feature. But here we are, many years later, talking about Fast and Furious 7 anyway. The seventh installment in the franchise is a movie that’s going to see the series reaching a crossroads though. Much of the property’s longevity can probably be credited to director Justin Lin, who not only helmed the last four Fast films (including the yet-to-be-released Fast & Furious 6), but who gave the whole endeavor new life when he cast Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five and created a surprise hit that provided this money machine with a second wind. Lin has said that he needs a break from the series and that he isn’t going to helm Fast & Furious 7 though, so what is a studio to do now that they’ve got a franchise on their hands that is once again a big money maker, but that is about to lose the man who gave it its second life? Well, according to Deadline, they’re negotiating to bring on Saw director James Wan in hopes that he can keep the momentum going.

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justin-lin

Much as we’d like for director Justin Lin to just keep churning out Fast and Furious films forever and ever, the filmmaker appears to have a hankering for a some slightly different fare. Deadline Hollywood reports that the helmer has signed on to direct the big screen adaptation of author Patrick Lee‘s next novel, an untitled action thriller that will kick off a planned three-book series and that doesn’t even release until next winter. While we don’t know much about the project, the outlet does reveal that the book centers on “an ex-special operative named Sam Dryden. In the character-driven thriller, Dryden runs into a mysterious young girl who is not quite what she seems, and he embarks on a journey to keep her safe from a powerful government agent intent on hunting her down.” This could really mean just about anything, but hey, planned thrills! Warner Bros. just picked up the rights for the novel in an apparently heated studio battle. Lee’s first novel, “The Breach,” is also in development, thanks to producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and David Goyer.

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LA Riots

After the success of Fast Five, Justin Lin might be looking to tackle a difficult and divisive moment in our modern history. According to Vulture, Lin is in talks with Universal to direct L.A. Riots – a film version of the violence and destruction that took place in April 1992 after the four police officers charged with beating Rodney King were acquitted to widespread shock and dismay. It goes without saying that capturing the scope and nuance of the story would be challenging for anyone. If it’s not still an open wound, it’s one that can still have salt poured into it, so something of a delicate hammer is needed to ensure that it’s compelling without being alienating or, even worse, purposelessly offensive. Oddly enough, the most interesting connection here might actually be the Fast and Furious franchise that Lin made a name in. John Singleton, the famed director of Boyz n the Hood directed the second entry into the fast-driving series and was also present at the courthouse during the Rodney King verdict, predicting that the decision “lit a fuse to a bomb.” Of course there’s also Spike Lee, who attempted to get a film version made a few years ago before it fell apart. If Universal is willing to make the investment to do it right, it looks like this modern moment might come back to haunt, entertain, and hopefully educate.

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It should be news to no one that a sixth film in the Fast & the Furious franchise is heading into production. The last film, Fast Five, is the highest grossing installment in the series, and regardless of the film’s quality that’s one hell of a feat. Happily, under the guiding hand of director Justin Lin, Fast Five actually managed to be a damn entertaining movie. (Stupid, but entertaining.) Lin is returning to helm the sixth film, and many of the usual suspects are along for the ride including Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Fast Five‘s MVP Dwayne Johnson. Previously announced newcomers include the charisma-free Luke Evans (Death Race 2) and Haywire‘s kick-ass leading lady Gina Carano. It’s assumed that both will be playing for the bad guys. If that assumption is correct, they’ve just found themselves a third team member.

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There’s been plenty of buzz about potential casting in the sixth Fast and Furious film (seriously, the sixth film), which we’re just going to refer to as Fast Six until someone tells us otherwise, but it’s been hard to quantify any of it without knowing the plot that these new characters would fit into. Fortunately, today we’re gifted with some confirmed casting (beyond, of course, the core crew who are all expected to return) and the first bit of real plot information for the film. As had been rumored last week, Luke Evans is in final negotiations to play the bad guy in Fast Six – not necessarily a villain (though that’s what been widely reported), but at least a dude audiences will likely be rooting against. The news comes from Variety, who detail his character by expounding a bit more on the film’s plot – it will “involve the crew heading overseas to work on a heist job. Evans would play the leader of another crew trying to pull the same job.” See! Not a bad guy! He’s just like Paul Walker! Or Vin Diesel! Maybe we’ll end up liking him! It’s happened before!

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Gina Carano in Haywire

Gina Carano’s claim to fame is that she can stomp people into the ground while, simultaneously, looking fabulous. So far she’s used these seemingly at odds traits to build a promising little career in entertainment, originally by being the first MMA athlete to bring real mainstream attention to the female fight game, and lately by transitioning her physical skills to the acting world. We got our first look at how Carano will fare on the big screen earlier this year in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, where the budding actress proved (in a starring role) not only that she could be just as alluring and magnetic as the biggest actresses working in Hollywood today, but also that there was a certain action magic to be had when your lead actress is able to perform all of her own fight scenes, probably better than any stuntwoman would be able to. Carano’s character in that film was overly stoic, however, and everything she was asked to do there seemed to be crafted to emphasize her natural looks and physical skills, and to de-emphasize any real emoting or serious acting that her inexperience might not yet be able to handle. That approach isn’t going to be able to last forever though, and now that Carano is signing up for a couple new roles, we might start seeing for the first time what she really has to offer as an actress.

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News out of Deadline Taipei City says that Kamala Films has acquired the rights to Kazuo Koike’s beloved manga series “Lone Wolf and Cub.” They’ve hired screenwriting duo David and Janet Peoples (Bladerunner, Unforgiven) to adapt the story into a screenplay, and they’ve attached Fast Five director Justin Lin to helm. Call me crazy, but that sounds like a great start. The Peoples have writing credits on quite a few exceptional films, and Justin Lin, well I don’t know much about him other than his Fast and the Furious work, but he at least made a big, loud, and fun heist movie with Fast Five. And he seems to be excited to get the opportunity to work with such a well-established creative team. When asked about the project he said, “I’ve long admired the Peoples and their enduring body of work. They’re a wonderful match for Lone Wolf and Cub and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with them on this powerful, epic tale.”

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While writing F6st and the Furious, director Justin Lin, screenwriter Chris Morgan and star/producer Vin Diesel just couldn’t jam in all the story and character development they needed. Nay, that the story itself demanded. According to Diesel (via THR), they’ve decided to add a seventh movie into the franchise. “We have to pay off this story, we have to service all of these character relationships, and when we started mapping all that out it just went beyond 110 pages,” said Diesel. “The studio said, ‘You can’t fit all that story in one damn movie!’” Well, what were they expecting? The movies in this franchise have always been primarily about character arcs, emotional evolution, and providing audiences with a keyhole look into the soul of humanity. Plus, it’s helpful that Fast Five has made $626m worldwide so far. It seems crazy, but it’s wonderful to see such a dialogue-based, mature story being such a smash blockbuster commercially. Let’s all raise a glass to the intellectually nuanced F7st 7nd F7r777s! That is, if you can hear yourself thinking over the crunching of popcorn and revving engines.

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We don’t often report on casting rumors so far in advance of production, but seeing as the very fun Fast Five hit DVD and Blu-ray today it seem fitting that we pass along this item about its inevitable follow-up. Well, two items actually. According to the fine folks at Twitch, Universal is hoping to move forward next year on filming two back-to-back installments of the Fast & Furious series to take place throughout Europe. It only makes sense as Fast Five was both the highest grossing and most entertaining of the bunch. The plan is for Justin Lin to return for part six and for Peter Jackson to take over directing duties on part seven. That’s not strictly true, but Jackson seems pretty comfortable being attached to one half of simultaneously filmed epics so I figured I’d suggest it now. It won’t happen, but how curious are you now to see a Jackson directed muscle car movie? The second piece of info uncovered by Twitch is that the franchise producers are hoping to lure Jason Statham into their fold for one or both of the films. Adding him to the mix seems like a no-brainer especially as the series heads to Europe. Statham is British after all, but more relevant to the matter at hand is his status as a follicle-challenged ass kicker who knows his way around a car. Can you even imagine the sweat and testosterone overload sure to occur when Statham, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson go […]

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Back in August, Justin Lin vacated the director’s chair for the latest in Hollywood’s seemingly endless string of remakes – jumping off Highlander to spend more time making Vin Diesel and Paul Walker jump off moving trains on to moving cars (or similar) with his next entry into his wildly successful spin on The Fast and the Furious franchise. Summit Entertainment has now announced that Juan Carlos Fresnadillo will take on directorial duties for their Highlander reboot/magination/whatever, so let’s all pause to yell “there can only be one!” and move on with the news. Fresnadillo will direct from Melissa Rosenberg’s script, with the film poised to start filming in the spring of 2012. Summit’s official press release gives a quick plotline for the new film – “In HIGHLANDER, after centuries of dueling to survive against others like him, Connor MacLeod, an immortal Scottish swordsman must confront the last of his kind, a murderously brutal barbarian, who lusts for the Prize” – so, yes, rest easy, this is definitely a Highlander film.

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Considering this week’s news that Justin Lin was vrooming down the director’s highway and careening right from Fast Five to the next installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise (forgive the terrible puns), it’s no surprise that the director is kicking some other projects out of his metaphorical trunk (glove compartment? backseat? whatever?) to make way for more mayhem with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. The first causality of that fast track? The Highlander reboot Lin has been attached to direct since 2009.

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Word went around over the weekend that Fox is moving forward with Die Hard 5. The proposed project would be about Bruce Willis’s iconic character John McClane and his now adult son getting into some terrorist related hijinx over in Russia, and reportedly Max Payne director John Moore had an offer to direct on the table if he wanted it. Well, it turns out that’s half true. According to Deadline Vershina the movie is definitely going forward, it will most assuredly be set in Russia, but Moore is far from a lock to direct. As a matter of fact, they say he’s one name on a short list that contains far more interesting choices. Joining Moore on Deadline’s short list is Attack the Block director Joe Cornish, Bronson director Nicolas Winding Refn, and Fast Five director Justin Lin. Despite the fact that I didn’t seem to be as taken with Lin’s revival of the Fast and the Furious franchise as everyone else, I would have to say that every one of these names is more interesting to me than John Moore. Refn showed that he can handle darker, action oriented material with Bronson, and he’s riding a lot of momentum right now due to positive buzz on this year’s Drive, but he might already have too much on his plate to step into the Die Hard franchise. He already has two more films planned in Only God Forgives and a possible remake of Logan’s Run, both set to star Ryan […]

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Variety has gotten its hands on the director shortlist for The Wolverine, and it, mostly, consists of fairly safe and obvious choices. But, like many of these lists, a great and head scratching question is posed: Does Hugh Jackman and company actually know what type of movie they want to make? When a list of favored directors features the likes of Mark Romanek and the director of Tokyo Drift, it boggles the mind. Here’s the apparent list of favored options that, per usual, you should take with a slight grain of salt:

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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