Director James Wan is best known as the horror auteur behind scary-movie phenomena like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring. In that context, he may have seemed like an unusual choice to replace Justin Lin and direct the seventh Fast & Furious movie.
But Wan is a fan of action movies, and a big fan of the Fast franchise. Wan talked with EW over the weekend, describing some of the classics that influenced his film—which reportedly cost $250 million, or roughly 250 times the price tag for one Insidious. “When I came into this film, the biggest inspiration for me was Seven Samurai,” he explained. “Instead of horses and steeds, it’s their muscle cars. Instead of swords, it’s guns. The classic story of vengeance and family and blood oath—that plays into classic Kurosawa!”
The Kurosawa influence led Wan to make one important creative decision—important mainly because it plays into the Fast & Furious franchise’s ongoing history of intriguing sequel titles. You’ll recall that the 2001 original was called The Fast and the Furious, followed by 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious (which seems to add up to 4.) There’s no number in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the third film released but technically the seventh sixth sixth-and-a-halfth film chronologically.
And there are no definite articles after 2009’s Fast & Furious, which rebooted the franchise with the original cast. 2011’s Fast Five was followed by Fast & Furious 6—the former with “Five” explicitly spelled out and the latter with “6” just as explicitly numeralized. But in a curious twist, Lin himself explained that the actual title of Fast & Furious 6 was really just Furious 6—a fact confirmed onscreen in the movie’s title sequence.
The seventh movie has been explicitly marketed as Furious 7, but according to Wan, “in the actual movie, I wanted to spell the word ‘Seven’ out, as opposed to just the number 7. It’s Furious Seven, like Seven Samurai,” he explains. (Intriguingly, posters for the movie feature seven members of the Toretto family—which could imply that they are meant to be The Furious Seven, like the Fantastic Four or the Fab Five or the Crazy 88.) Wan also compares the film to The Magnificent Seven, the western-ified remake of Seven Samurai. “I kind of see Vin as my Yul Brynner,” he laughs.
In conclusion, you never really know what the title of a Fast & Furious movie will be. In further conclusion: In seven movies, the word “furious” has never been spoken onscreen.