David Leitch in the Driver's Seat for 'Fast and Furious' Spinoff

Dwayne Johnson And Jason Statham In Furious

The stuntman and filmmaker’s previous work includes John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2.

The franchise that kicked off with The Fast and the Furious in 2001 has become one of the most successful in Hollywood, with eight films (and counting) grossing more than $5.1 billion worldwide. Credit the adrenaline-pumping action scenes, the diverse cast that reflects what modern society looks like, or just the undying devotion of people who love cars — either way, it has proven to be big money for Universal. No wonder they’re planning a spinoff starring two of the more recent and popular additions to the franchise’s sprawling cast, Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobb (Dwayne Johnson, introduced in Fast Five) and former British military officer turned mercenary Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, introduced in the end credits of Fast & Furious 6).

The spinoff, rumored to be (shockingly) titled Hobbs and Shaw, has a script written by Chris Morgan — the writer responsible for installments 3-8 in the franchise — and a tentative release date in July 2019. And, as first reported by Entertainment Weekly, it now has a director. David Leitch, the former stuntman and stunt coordinator whose credits behind the camera include John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and the much-anticipated Deadpool 2, has signed on to direct the film after months of rumors that he was the frontrunner for the job.

Leitch’s films are hyper-violent, full of impressive stuntwork, and incredibly stylish. John Wick (where Leitch served as an uncredited co-director with fellow stuntman Chad Stahelski) reignited the career of Keanu Reeves and spawned its own franchise, while Atomic Blonde allowed Charlize Theron to channel James Bond in high-heeled boots with a kickass soundtrack. Bringing Leitch on board for this spinoff should be a breath of fresh air for a franchise that tends to rely on the same (albeit much-beloved) formula.

I find it hard not to have high hopes for a film directed by Leitch that stars two of the biggest action stars in the game. Both Statham and Johnson have sharp comic timing, not to mention great chemistry that led to the decision to give them their spinoff in the first place. Their characters began as adversaries in Furious 7 but were forced to work together to bring down Charlize Theron (the new queen of action, clearly) in The Fate of The Furious. Statham is famous for doing all of his own stunts, so pairing him with Leitch feels like a match made in movie heaven if movie heaven was watching Statham punch and kick bad guys to oblivion in a series of incredibly long takes. (I mean, that’s movie heaven for me.) And Johnson is riding high off one box office success after another — just having his name attached to s film, let alone one in the immensely popular Fast and Furious franchise, is enough to grab your attention even if you don’t remember the smell of whatever The Rock was cooking.

The film isn’t scheduled to start shooting until September, so you can expect plenty of additional announcements to be rolling in throughout the coming months — especially with the ninth and tenth films in the Fast and Furious series not scheduled until 2020 and 2021, respectively. With series star Vin Diesel saying that the tenth film will be the finale, one imagines that Hobbs and Shaw are being set up to carry on once the series (finally) breathes its last.

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Director of short films starring a killer toaster, a killer Christmas tree, and a not-killer leopard.