Lin helped make the franchise what it is: the best soap opera action adventure about family and heroes in cars since forever.
Where all my die-hard Fast and Furious fans at? Especially the ones who ride or die for #JusticeForHan. Kidding, I accept all fans as they come. Still, there’s some news out there just for you. On the Today show, Vin Diesel confirmed that Justin Lin is returning to direct both the ninth and 10th films.
Family! Wait. I mean, hell yeah!
Sorry, I get excited and forget how exclamations of excitement work. Lin directed the third through the sixth installments of the series, and hopefully his scribe Chris Morgan, who’s written all of the films since the third, will also return. For my money, they’re the folks who made the franchise what it is. In related news, Morgan will also be writing the previously announced spinoff for Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson tentatively titled Hobbs and Shaw.
There has been hint that the 10th film might be the last in the series, so the spinoff could be a way to gracefully morph the franchise into a cinematic universe, but I wonder about Diesel and Johnson’s falling out. Maybe the spinoff is a long-term solution to put some space between the two stars.
Oh, and I do mean space. Outer space. Because one of these movies is eventually going to space.
The excitement is real, though. Lin and Morgan created something totally unique and special with the Fast and Furious franchise. Who’d have thought a sequel, let alone a franchise could be wrenched out of this conceit? Who cares what a bunch of street criminals got up to after it all went to hell? It’d be like proposing a sequel to Point Break. Who gives a shit what Bohdi’s been up to since he went off into that massive surf?
But Lin and Morgan saw 2 Fast 2 Furious and realized the potential hidden in that entertaining but not great film. Chemistry. Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson had insane chemistry in an overall humdrum film. They use the throughline of “family” in the narrative, but chemistry is their NOS.
That’s what soap operas thrive on. It’s also why they’re quite comfortable replacing characters and bringing people back from the dead. They understand the importance of putting relationships on the screen that their viewers find utterly compelling.
What if you built an action franchise on that model?
Well, they did it. In the most bonkers way possible. Let’s be direct about it. They’ve concocted some mighty insane narrative throughlines to tell the kind of soap opera story about family and heroes that they were looking to get into. The narrative hoops they jumped through to justify Han’s presence in future films are gonzo. Who else would do that? Honestly. There are easier ways. For example. They simply could have said he didn’t die.
It’s a really weird — in an awesome way — set of choices. And, the franchise is totally ridiculous when taken as a whole. For a franchise ostensibly about the passions of street racing, there’s only one film actually about street racing. That’s Justin Lin’s entry to the franchise way back in 2003.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Fast and the Furious is Romeo and Juliet in cars. 2 Fast 2 Furious is Bad Boys in cars. Fast & Furious is Traffic in cars. Fast Five is Ocean’s Eleven in cars. Fast & Furious 6 is The Avengers in cars. Furious 7 is Mission: Impossible in cars. And The Fate of the Furious 8 is 9 Monthsin cars. Or, maybe just the one where Dom does Family very badly.
All you Tokyo Drift haters can pound sand. That movie is legit great. This is the Han Seoul-Oh we need. Sung Kang forever, y’all.
Regardless of where you stand on that, it does feel like we’re getting the band back together. I’m excited to see what Lin brings to the table for the ninth installment of what will probably be at least a 10 film franchise. That’s heady territory, and it feels right to be doing it with the guy who helped engineer it at the helm. The guy who might (should) also finally give us justice for Han.