Here at ActionAGoGo.com we revel in guilty pleasures. And there is no greater example in modern cinema of a “guilty pleasure” than The Fast And The Furious franchise.
Spanning 15 years and 7 films, the F&F series may have started off as a Point Break knock-off that classified as “so bad it’s good,” but with the arrival of director Justin Lin that all changed. From Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift up through Furious 6, Lin put the F&F series on his back and repurposed it into a heist film for an ethnic audience whose voices were becoming increasingly louder. Already establishing himself as a filmmaker to watch, he fully embraced the b-movie plot, highlighted the franchise’s strengths, consistently masked its weaknesses, and somehow managed to make Vin Diesel’s speeches “land.” The director had his finger on the audience’s pulse and, in the process, he and screenwriter Chris Morgan defied critics expectations and laughed all the way to the bank.
But nothing lasts forever. Unfortunately, Lin parted F&F on a high note with Furious 6, allowing horror hit-maker James Wan (Saw, The Conjouring) to take the director’s chair. With Furious 7, Wan inherited a box office juggernaut that was too big to fail. Furious 7 streaked past the $1 billion mark based on the strength of its predecessors and a surprisingly persuasive tribute to fallen star Paul Walker.
Which brings us to the already announced yet directorless “Furious 8″(or as it is known for now: “The Next The Fast And The Furious”). With Universal already angling for an April 14, 2017 theatrical release, series producer Neal H. Moritz is staying mum on who will take over after Wan. But that won’t stop me from wishlisting directors well in advance…
6. Justin Lin (Fast Five, Finishing the Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee)
Director Justin Lin probably understood the Fast franchise better than anyone. In particular, he seemed to grasp that the original film was bred from the action flicks of the mid-to-late 1990s (Bad Boys, Point Break, Speed, etc.). Pulling from the sensibilities of the time, Lin made the franchise bigger than before, allowing several careers to turn a corner and proving that multiculturalism can be profitable on the big screen
After directing 4 F&F films, I’m glad to see director Justin Lin boldly go, but I’m a bit sad to see him leave. That said, he had to make my top 5 because nobody did it better than him.
5. John Singleton (Boys in the Hood, 4 Brothers)
Ever since director John Singleton helmed 2000’s Shaft he’s been floating around the action and crime genre. With each subsequent film Singleton has gone from drama director to specializing in urban vigilantes with hearts of gold. Also, because he’s directed 2 Fast 2 Furious, Singleton benefits from having history with the characters played by Paul Walker, Ludacris, and Tyrese. If nothing else, that distinction could bring out the familial interconnectivity that seems to be the backbone of the series.
4. José Padilha (Elite Squad, Narcos)
Based on the strength of the Brazil-based Elite Squad and Elite Squad: Enemy Within, Director José Padilha was able to score the 2014 remake of Robocop. While the thought of a PG-13 Robocop made the Internet collectively retch, Padilha bounced back with the critically acclaimed Narcos on Netflix — directing the first two episodes and producing the entire series.
Padilha seems to be most comfortable in the action-crime genre. Something that the Fast franchise could benefit from after Furious 7 turned the cast into superheroes.
3. The RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists)
No, The Man With The Iron Fists wasn’t perfect. However, it wasn’t meant to be anything more than director RZA playing with his favorite kung fu cliches of old. If anything the film proves that RZA has a better film in him and he understands the inner-workings of the action genre.
With that understood, if guided by producer Neal H. Moritz and series screenwriter Chris Morgan, RZA could literally and figuratively bring continued street cred to F&F for certain.
2. Gareth Evans (The Raid)
If you haven’t seen director Gareth Evans’ work on The Raid: Redemption and the The Raid 2: Berandal then you’ve missed out on two of the best action films of the last several years. You’ve also missed out on a director who specializes in driving his stories and characters forward through propulsive, jaw-dropping violence.
While director Gareth Evans is transitioning towards shooting The Raid 3 with Furious 7‘s Tony Jaa (?!), that film is apparently 3 years off. Now, I suck at math but I think that means Evans could definitely squeeze in a franchise that has made $1,511,726,205 worldwide…right? Also, a talent like Evans deserves to be in full command of a major studio production, and nothing seems better suited for him than a The Fast And The Furious movie.
1. Robert Rodriguez (Machete, From Dusk Til’ Dawn)
Let’s face it…at its base, The Fast And The Furious series are b-movies with massive Hollywood budgets. Well it just so happens that director Robert Rodriguez has branded himself a maker of what he calls “mexploitation,” a play on words and the fact that he is a Mexican director that makes exploitation films. Which F&F continues to be a distant relative of.
A modernized version of the grindhouse film movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Rodriguez’s “mexploitative” approach could give the later entries in the series a new layer of cool. Potentially, F&F could allow the Desperado director to call on every classic car film from his favorite era. Films like Two-Lane Black Top, Vanishing Point, and…yes, The Road Warrior. Also, as an added bonus, he might even ask buddy Quentin Tarantino do some punch-ups to the script. Now…wouldn’t that be something?
And that’s it. A not so in-depth but hopeful list of filmmakers.
But what about you? What up and coming director do you think should be in the driver’s seat of Universal’s global giant? Or maybe you’d like to see a seasonedvet tackle the The Fast And The Furious. Let us know in the comments.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen writes about action/adventure for Action A Go Go. He is a comic book writer whose works include BamnComics.com, The Magic Bullet, Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse of Tall Tales, and the Harvey Award nominated District Comics. In addition, Allen has been a contributing writer for ComicBookBin.com, OfNote Magazine, and ForcesOfGeek.com. His work has been featured in the City Paper, The Baltimore Sun, Bethesda Magazine, The Examiner, and The Washington Post. Yes, he wrote this bio.