Dear Justin Lin, This Is How “Fast and Furious 9” Should Play Out
When actor Paul Walker who played former FBI agent Brian O’Connor for over a decade — passed away back in 2013 — during a holiday break from filming Furious 7 — the loss was catastrophic enough to potentially end production and any future installments — indefinitely.
But, by some miracle — the quest to honor Walker’s legacy with the magical techniques of CGI and the immense generosity of the late actor’s two younger brothers — restored the settings of a project that was labored for the love of a family in mourning.
A couple of years later, The Fate of the Furious arrived without any trace of Brian or Mia — and even though the critics offered their rave reviews with robotic adherence to studios — that won’t tolerate anything less — there was no hiding the frostiness that has settled amongst familiar faces that are almost unidentifiable.
In the eighth installment — we’re introduced to a cyber terrorist in the form of Charlize Theron — who embodies Cipher with a creepiness that doesn’t quite add up. Maybe that’s because of the bargaining chip that involves the abrupt arrival of Dom’s (Vin Diesel) baby boy by his former side chick Elena who weirdly gave birth despite the impossibility of such an occurrence — given the time frame.
The storyline manages to uphold the high-tempo scenes that we’ve come to expect from the franchise — but director F. Gary Gray was still unable to assemble the heartbeat of the past films — that relied heavily on the winning chemistry of a cast that valiantly lived by the code — ride or die.
As a result, Fate of the Furious, despite its glorious takeover at the box office — worldwide — seemed to be frozen in a chaotic mess of disorientation — as Dom senselessly abandons his responsibilities, while the rest of the members are left to figure shit out without the guidance or support of the two people that love Dom the most.
Anyone who is a die-hard fan of the franchise can’t deny that it’s virtually impossible for Brian to remain in retirement — when his older brother is under the icy spell of a dread-locked temptress.
Weeks after Fate’s celebrated release — Michelle Rodriguez — who plays Mrs. Toretto a.k.a. Letty — publicly expressed her frustration with the way the female characters are handled by those in charge. Media outlets took notice and announced her possible departure from the franchise that fueled her career.
Then came the rumblings about a possible spinoff starring heavyweights Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham. Right after that — Tyrese Gibson who co-starred with Walker in 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)— proceeded to use his various platforms as a battle ground for war as he accused Johnson of betrayal — after it was officially announced that the ninth installment would be pushed to 2020— to accommodate the 2019 release of the Hobbs/Shaw partnership.
Johnson retaliated with a video that went viral — and that was when it became crystal clear that the family members weren’t really squabbling — but rather trying to maintain the interests of fans — that seem to be holding on tight— regardless of how shitty the operation has become.
And now — we can almost confirm via Diesel’s Facebook page — that director Justin Lin who previously steered the ship from turbulence to smooth sailing — will most likely return to heal the wounds that are gaping with grief and confusion.
The last time Lin was choreographing eye-popping car chases and immaculate pile ups was for Fast and Furious 6 — back when Dom and Brian were still “a thing” and the family shared a relaxed cohesiveness that justified the return of Letty — and the promise of more elaborate gestures of familial ties.
After helming four installments including the phenomenal — Fast Five (2011) Lin decided to end his run — and handed the reigns over to The Conjuring’s James Wan who was more than capable of rising to the occasion. But after weathering the loss of Walker — coupled with the strain of a bloated production budget and mounting tension with Diesel who also serves as co-producer — it’s no surprise that Wan opted not to return.
It’s also no surprise that F. Gary Gray isn’t coming back — when you consider that the film he made ended up being a soulless collage of action sequences that lacked the core ingredients that made the franchise irresistibly nostalgic.
Dear Justin Lin, if you do in fact come back to complete the saga — this is how Fast and Furious 9 should play out: It has to be family first.
Jordana Brewster who originated the role of Mia Toretto, Dom’s beautiful and spirited younger sister is also rumored to be reprising her role— and if she does — that has to mean the timely demise of her loving partner — Brian.
Brewster, was notably absent in the eighth installment because of her marriage to her brother’s road dog — who willingly gave up life in the fast lane in order to furnish a stress-free existence with his longtime girlfriend and growing family.
But, the Family was forever changed with Walker’s death — and the only way forward is to translate that reality to the big screen.
Furious 9 has to open with Brian’s funeral and the stoic return of Mia Toretto who is not just back to honor the memory of her beloved, but is also ready to kickass in the quest of avenging his death.
The elephant in the room has to be confronted and conquered — and only Lin possesses the anointed capabilities that will surely resurrect the respectability of a legacy that is too fragile to withstand further turbulence.
Brian O’Connor has to die — in order to save the lives of the characters that can’t survive his hovering. Mia has to energize the base and warm up the veins that have gone cold from neglect and detached proceedings. She’s the missing link, and once she emerges — the Family will be complete.
Diesel, is the superstar who listens to his fans and takes their recommendations very seriously. The Rock, is evidence of this practice — since his addition was at the behest of users who envisioned what has since transpired.
There has been an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the way the franchise has evolved since Brian’s “retirement” — and with the imminent return of Lin in the director’s chair — it’s hard not to be consoled with the possibility that the Fast Family will finally be forced to confront their worst fears.
With any luck, Lin will be given the opportunity to draft the final two chapters with the spirit of vengefulness as Dom and his loved ones give Brian the send off he deserves — as they prepare for a lifetime without him — while also securing the integrity of a legacy that will require finalization of outstanding debts.
Brian will be theatrically avenged and the franchise will ride into the sunset with the blessing of how art imitating life can be the sincerest form of flattery especially when the high road is the only option.
It has to be family first. The speed bumps are just for the action.