How did The Fast and the Furious become one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood? The original film was a campy mash-up of West Side Story and Point Break, filled with hack-and-slash car chases that overdosed on digital effects. The Diesel-free sequel was actually named 2 Fast 2 Furious and basically played out like a very special episode of Fastlane, which is a TV show you’ve hopefully never heard of. The third film — immortally subtitled Tokyo Drift — should have put the nail in the coffin, but new director Justin Lin turned out to be the rare commercial filmmaker in modern Hollywood who could actually film action scenes without resorting to pointlessly obtuse hyperkinetic editing.
The unexpectedly potent reunion of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in 2009’s Fast & Furious made for a fun diversion. But that was just a warm-up. Because nothing could have prepared the world for Fast Five. A surprisingly effective genre-jump into Ocean’s Eleven territory resulted in a series-high gross (over $600 million worldwide), series-best reviews, and a slot in Time magazine’s Top Ten Movies of 2011. (Time critic Richard Corliss compares the movie to The Great Train Robbery and calls it “the first great film of the post-human era.”) So how can the next movie follow that up?
According to Vin Diesel, the next movie can’t… so they’re making two movies instead. Diesel told The Hollywood Reporter, “With the success of this last one, and the inclusion of so many characters, and the broadening of scope, when we were sitting down to figure out what would fit into the real estate of number six, we didn’t have enough space.”
So, according to Diesel, screenwriter Chris Morgan is currently writing two sequels, which might be called Fast Six and Fast Seven, but which let’s say for argument’s sake are titled Fast Six: Fury, Part One–Furiously Fast and Fast Seven: Fury, Part 2–Fastidiously Furious.
For franchise-starved Universal — which is currently bending over backwards to keep the Bourne series running — the accelerating success of the Fast & Furious series must look like a gift from heaven, so it’s not surprising that they’d want to get as many movies out as quickly as possible. (Representatives for Universal did not immediately respond to EW’s call for comment.) And considering that Fast Five was made for only $125 million — a lot of money, but on the low end for a mega-blockbuster — the decision to film two sequels back-to-back could be a cost-effective path to riches.
And yet, as a big fan of the series, I wonder if this is the right move. Spreading out one story over two films has often proved to be kryptonite for successful franchises. Think of Pirates of the Caribbean, which spiraled into decadent nonsensicality with films 2 and 3, or The Matrix, which followed up the intensely satisfying original with an infamously unsatisfying two-film cycle. The best film franchises make every movie feel like a unique component part of a greater whole. That was true of the Toy Story films. It’s been true (so far, at least) of the Christopher Nolan Bat-trilogy. It was mostly true of the James Bond franchise, until a brief experiment in serialization resulted in Quantum of Solace.
Then again, part of what made Fast Five so fun was the envelope-pushing insanity of the whole enterprise. (Just check out stunt coordinator Jack Gill’s description of the months-long process of filming the final bank-vault scene.) Hey, if superheroes and fantasy creatures can have multi-film arcs, why not auto-obsessive criminals with glistening hairless triceps?
People, what do you think about the notion of a two-film Fast & Furious arc? Will you be disappointed if they don’t visit all seven continents, ending in an exciting half-hour car chase across the snows of Antarctica? And what would you title the sixth and seventh Fast & Furious movies?
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