The most surprising blockbuster franchise of the modern age is officially ending! Yes, the finish line for the Fast & Furious franchise has just been drawn as both Variety and Deadline are reporting that the Universal is ending the series after two more films. Fast & Furious 10 and 11 (or whatever silly name combination the studio comes up with for them) will both be directed by Justin Lin, the man who helmed the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and upcoming ninth entries… or as they are more confusingly known, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and The Fast Saga: F9.
The original 2001 film, The Fast and the Furious, was a smalltime affair directed by Rob Cohen and was essentially Point Break but with illegal street racers instead of surfers. It introduced the world to the late Paul Walker’s LAPD cop Brian O’Conner as he is sent undercover to infiltrate a crew of robbers run by Vin Diesel’s Dom Torretto, a local street racing legend. But then Brian falls for Dom’s sister and soon realizes that this “familia” is more than just crooks, testing his allegiance.
The film got mixed reviews (most of the positives coming from petrolheads drooling over the cars) but was a box office success earning over five times its $38 million budget. Even so, nobody would have looked at it and screamed “BILLION DOLLAR FRANCHISE!”. Especially not after the utterly terrible follow-up, the routinely lampooned 2 Fast 2 Furious, which didn’t even have Diesel as a drawcard. But then… enter Justin Lin for Tokyo Drift!
While focusing on a new set of characters, Lin started laying down narrative seeds that would only come to fruition several years later. He also brought some much-needed energy to the franchise with bigger and better action set pieces. That trend of escalation would continue through to Fast Five which is where the franchise completely changed gears and became a globetrotting action heist spectacle that grossed over $626 million worldwide and is still the series’ pinnacle.
It’s also where these films started to not care about such pesky things as physics and reality. With this larger than life approach, and the introduction of Dwayne Johnson’s also-larger-than-life Agent Luke Hobbs, Fast Five helped turn Fast & Furious it into the largest franchise in the Universal stable and one of Hollywood’s biggest international hits. Up until and including 2017’s The Fate of the Furious, the films had collectively earned over $5.131 billion worldwide, with Furious 7 (which was the final appearance of Walker as he passed away tragically while filming, as well as the introduction of Jason Statham’s villain-turned-anti-hero Deckard Shaw) earning a franchise-high $1.516 billion.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, the 2019 spinoff that saw Johnson and Statham’s breakout characters (who hate each other) forced to team up, added another $759 million to that total. Both characters will be sitting out Lin’s upcoming F9, but the film will bring back just about all the favourites from the franchise such as Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, and Nathalie Emmanuel. And SOMEHOW that list also includes Sung Kang’s Han Lue.
Despite appearing up until Fast & Furious 6, Han was confusingly killed off back in 2006’s Tokyo Drift (which was actually set after the events of the next three films, although we didn’t know it at the time) as a result of what looked like a random car accident. However, the post-credits scene of Fast & Furious 6 revealed that it had been Statham’s Shaw who had killed him, as payback for the events of the sixth film in which Dom and his crew had faced off against Shaw’s younger brother. How’s that for playing the narrative long game?!
With Shaw becoming a member of Dom’s team despite having murdered one of their friends, it has given rise to the #JusticeForHan campaign on social media. Lin and co have promised upset fans that this will finally get addressed in F9. That’s on top of some other family drama as the film will also introduce John Cena as Jakob Toretto, Dom’s younger brother that he has never ever mentioned before now who just so happens to be an assassin and high-performance driver who has teamed up with Charlize Theron’s Cipher, the hacker villain from the previous film, and is out for revenge. There’s also a rumour that F9 may take a long-running fan joke about how the movies keep upping the ridiculousness of the action to the point where the only thing left to do is go to space and actually go to space. Seriously!
F9 was supposed to have hit cinemas on 22 May of this year, but was one of the earliest films pulled from its release slot due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, Universal delayed the film all the way to 28 May 2021, nearly a full year after its original release date.
Last Updated: October 21, 2020