After being bogged down by a lack of Vin Diesel and a 100% increase in Tyrese Gibson in the followup to its massively popular opening installment, the Fast and Furious franchise found itself not really being able to boast either adjective honestly. But then along came director Justin Lin, breathing some much needed fresh air into the flagging series. Okay, so maybe that first puff of air, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, was a little stinky in places, but Lin just built from there, culminating in the superb Fast Five.
Fast & Furious 6 seems to be continuing that upward trend, but it looks like that will be the last time we’ll have Lin at the wheel.
Series star Vin Diesel recently revealed that advanced screenings of Fast & Furious 6 had audiences responding so positively that Universal was already eyeing a mid year start to production on the next film in the series with a proposed summer 2014 release (this would also help prop up a relatively tentpole-less release schedule from the studio). This apparently didn’t sit too well with Lin.
According to THR, the director apparently told Universal that he won’t be directing the sequel on their accelerated timetable, because to meet their deadline he would have to start working on Fast 7 while still wrapping up post-production on Fast 6 and he was afraid that this would hamper him from delivering to his true potential. Also, according to industry insiders, he was apparently feeling a bit of franchise fatigue after having been immersed in nearly nothing but the exhaust fumes and testosterone of the series since 2006.
Lin’s withdrawal from the series comes at a slightly odd time though, because if you had read the VERY SPOILER FILLED recent revelation about how Fast 7 fits into the whole franchise, then you would think that he would stay on to see the fruits of his labours. But it seems that the quality of his work is more important to him, which is something I applaud. With him stepping away now, Lin is tied with Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones), George Lucas (Star Wars) and David Yates (Harry Potter) for movies directed in one franchise, with four films apiece.
As to who will now take over the big chair on set, well Universal are apparently wasting no time, so as to meet that urgent deadline of theirs. Latino Review is reporting that the studio has apparently already narrowed the field of candidates down to three lucky men: Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2), Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) and Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid, One Night at McCools, Agent Cody Banks). While it still remains to be seen whether Wadlow’s latest, Kick-Ass 2, will overcome the mediocrity of his previous efforts, at least he has some action credentials. Furman and Zwart have really never shown any inclination towards this type of high octane, muscle cars and muscle men action flicks at all, so they are certainly unexpected choices. With Universal’s tight schedule though, it could simply be a case of they actually weren’t too busy to answer their phones.
I’d be willing to bet that they end up with Wadlow, as Kick-Ass 2 is looking certainly looking decent enough, and he really doesn’t have anything currently on his plate, so he could get to work straight away. However, these are Hollywood execs we’re talking about here, so don’t be surprised to soon be greeted by the headline that Justin Lin was replaced by the guy who made Malcom In the Middle as a secret agent.