With Fast And Furious 9, director Justin Lin looks back on the history of the franchise. But how did she evolve from a simple theft of DVD players to a trip to space?
After several years of waiting, the ninth part of the saga FAST AND FURIOUS is finally released in theaters. But to fully savor the atmosphere, it is necessary to go back to the very first film: Fast And Furious by Rob Cohen. During a confession to Brian (Paul walker), Dom (Vin Diesel) says he started illegal street racing after being banned from official competitions where he nearly killed the man who caused his father’s accident. At the time, this story seemed mainly to serve to nourish the bond that was developing between the two heroes. However, Justin lin, the director, has not forgotten this passage and makes it the heart of this ninth part, once again demonstrating the richness of this universe built over twenty years ago.
Since 2001, the filmmakers who have followed one another behind the camera of the various FAST AND FURIOUS have succeeded in building a Cinematic Universe that audiences genuinely care about. If the trials to find the recipe FAST AND FURIOUS were numerous, each film provided an essential ingredient. So the bromance and the complex representation of male characters are already present in the first part (Fast and Furious, 2001). Even if his dialogues are limited, Dom alone embodies an example of positive masculinity, quite rare in the automotive industry. However, it is Brian who will be honored 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) for a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, the film John singleton defines the recipe that will ensure the success of the saga: the incredible stunts in cars. But on the other hand, the feature film also showed that alone, Paul walker would not manage to be the leader of this franchise. With Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, Justin lin plunges into the chasms of automobile stunts, forgetting these characters in passing. More than fifteen years later, the public still tries to remember the first name of the hero of this third part, wondering why Han (Sung Kang) was not the main character. Always in front of the camera Justin lin, the fourth and fifth installments of the franchise will finally put in place the recipe for the saga: car chases and stunts, simple characters but endearing enough to bring them back from the dead and from the dead. ‘impossible.
Seeking to push the boundaries of the unimaginable, the directors dabbled in genres ranging from car racing and heist films to heroic epics to Impossible mission. This comparison is not innocent because the feature films of the franchise also have characters who get shot but keep moving forward as well as some rather strange gadgets that do not exist (Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw pushing the boundaries of technology). But also, like Ethan Hunt who never sacrifices the life of a person to save millions (this is moreover the reproach which will be made to him throughout the sixth opus), Dominic Toretto does not let no one touch their family.
Yet this family is quite dysfunctional. And this, from the first opus. Moreover, the first feature film sets up a reflection that persists even in F8 and the Furious and that could be boiled down to the question: how is it possible to have such strong female characters while making decidedly sexist films? It may sound out of place, but F9 is the first film in the franchise to feature scenes between Letty (Michelle rodriguez) and Mia (Jordana brewster). Until now, these two main female characters had never had on-screen interactions. The actress appeared in group scenes but both never had scenes. A fine example of the failure that the franchise FAST AND FURIOUS would reap if she attempted to pass the Bechdel test.
The disappearance of the misogyny of films was, moreover, one of the conditions for the return of Michelle rodriguez for this last part. In the pages of Hollywood Reporter, the actress explained that she asked for an author to be added to the team after seeing male characters gain depth in recent years while female characters have stagnated. Yes F9 is not yet at the level of feminism of Mad Max Fury Road, the franchise seems to definitely break with the sexism of the first films.
By going back over the history of the franchise and taking a story of the origins to extract a new character, Justin lin renews with the traditional recipes of the franchise FAST AND FURIOUS. Regardless of his attempt to retroactively construct a character’s story with F9, what really matters are the chases and impossible stunts that made the saga famous. The storytelling has never been the strong point of this franchise, and aware of this fact, it never made the pretension, promising a lightness that Justin lin has the secret. The director will also be behind the camera for the next two films, promising an exceptional ending for an incredible franchise (with, hopefully, better treatment of female characters).