The need for speed is still very much alive in the ‘Fast and Furious’ universe as its first spin-off accelerates to the UAE box office this week with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Jason Statham steering ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ towards (in what hopes to be) a lucrative future with Universal Pictures.
The ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise has been a money spinner for the production house, with the first eight films in the series earning more than $5.136 billion globally, according to numbers aggregator Box Office Mojo. It is only natural for Universal to take another spin around the track with fresh drivers in the shiny new supercars they like to employ — and blow up — with uncontained glee.
Yet, as focus shifts to ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ and its muscle-flexing heroes, questions continue to haunt fans of the original franchise.
Does this mean Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and crew will slam the brakes on the original ‘Fast and Furious’ family? Will we ever see the return of Charlize Theron’s Cipher? And seriously, is no one ever going to address the white elephant in the room and talk ‘Justice for Han’?
Gulf News tabloid! addresses all the questions while looking under the hood of ‘Hobbs and Shaw’.
Remember the epic Diesel-Johnson feud?
To answer whether the world needs a spin-off, one needs to hit reverse to 2016 and resurrect the drama that unfolded during the shoot of ‘The Fate of the Furious’.
Even though Johnson’s Luke Hobbs joined the franchise in 2011’s ‘Fast Five’, it was during the filming of ‘The Fate of the Furious’ when the on-set friction between Diesel and Johnson took on a life of its own.
Johnson was the first to unsheathe the claws when he took to Instagram to complain about an unnamed co-star. “Some [male co-stars] conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t. The ones that don’t are too chicken [expletive] to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses.
“When you watch this movie next April and it seems like I’m not acting in some of these scenes and my blood is legit boiling — you’re right,” he wrote.
It didn’t take long for folks to decipher that the ‘Candyass’ in question was Diesel himself, which was later confirmed by co-star Michelle Rodriguez. Later, both Diesel and Johnson addressed the feud in their own way. While Diesel told USA Today “some things were blown out of proportion”, The Rock alluded to it in a chat with Entertainment Tonight saying the beef was a matter of “different philosophies.”
Things may have come to pass but news later filtered down that Diesel, who was a co-producer of ‘The Fate of the Furious’, nixed a post-credit scene that featured Johnson. Needless to say, the battle lines were drawn and the only way to keep everyone in the family, which the franchise so passionately talks about, was to separate the two alphas in their very own respective films.
Is the original ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise dead?
Not quite. Universal has already announced that, the currently untitled ninth film is set to release on May 22, 2020, which would be the Memorial Day weekend in the US.
Diesel, along with Rodriquez (who plays Leticia ‘Letty’ Ortiz), marked the start of filming on June 24 with an on-set video posted on Instagram where the actor thanked the crew and fans for taking this franchise towards a ninth instalment.
With Statham and Theron out of the film, newcomer John Cena has been confirmed as the new villain. Fans also expect Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges (Tej Parker) to return, along with Jordana Brewster as Dom’s sister Mia. Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce is also returning with speculation that Scott Eastwood’s Eric Reisner could return as well.
We also know a ‘Fast and Furious 10’ is confirmed, which was announced by Diesel and Universal Pictures in 2016, which is slated for an April 2, 2021 release.
Interestingly, there has been no mention of The Rock returning to these films. All we do know is that the makers were seriously considering a plot that would take the ‘Fast & Furious’ family into space.
Does this mean Johnson and Diesel will never work again?
The question was raised on the ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ red carpet, when Variety quizzed producer Hiram Garcia whether The Rock would return to the main series. Garcia appeared hopeful.
“Sure, I mean, look. This isn’t about a separate world, this is a world that feeds into the ‘Fast & Furious’. We just did it out of order. Whereas the Avengers and Marvel universe, they started with their spin-offs and they got to Avengers, we started with our Avengers in ‘Fast & Furious’ and now we’re starting to spin it off. But it’s to help support the ‘Fast & Furious’ universe because obviously we have plans for 9 and 10, but who doesn’t want an 11, 12, and 13, so forth?”
When questioned again, Garcia added: “Anything is possible, my friend. Anything is possible. It’s show business!”
What are Hobbs and Shaw up to?
After bad-boy-turned-hero Deckard Shaw was welcomed into the fold by Dom in ‘The Fate of the Furious’, despite him killing a member of the family Han Lue (Sung Kang), it was only a matter of time that Statham was given a full-fledged role.
In this spin-off, Shaw jumps ship with Hobbs as they lead their own adventure to face off Idris Elba’s villain Brixton, a “cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist”, who manages to get his fans on an “insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever.”
Helmed by ‘Deadpool 2’ director David Leitch, Hobbs and Shaw form an unlikely alliance to take on this next threat, with a little help from an MI6 agent (Vanessa Kirby) who happens to be Shaw’s sister. Fans will also meet the outlaw’s mother, the sassy Magdalene Shaw, a role that will be reprised by the talented Helen Mirren.
Other stars in the film include ‘Baby Driver’s’ Eiza Gonzalez, Johnson’s cousin and WWE star Roman Reigns and John Tui (‘Power Rangers’).
Will there ever be ‘Justice for Han’?
Purists who have been following the ‘Fast & Furious’ films have been enraged ever since Statham’s Shaw was welcomed by Dom and crew considering it was revealed at the end of ‘Fast and Furious 6’ that he killed Han Lue at the end of ‘Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’.
A Mercedes S-Class, driven by Shaw himself, crashes into Han’s car in Tokyo and he is shot dead as he attempts to escape the debris.
Soon after ‘The Fate of the Furious’ dropped, fans started to trend #JusticeForHan on social media, which trended a second time when the ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ trailer dropped. Fans are hoping that Universal Pictures will address Han’s death either by Shaw feeling remorse over the kill, or even indicating that Han is somehow miraculously alive.
Franchise writer Chris Morgan has also promised the series will deal with #JusticeForHan.
“I think you’ll learn a lot more about it, and I don’t know if that hashtag will be the appropriate one to put on it down the road. But I can tell you this: We will definitely be talking more about Han,” Morgan said in an interview with CinemaBlend.
Are more spin-offs in the works?
Diesel has confirmed that a total of three spin-offs are in the works with Universal. One of these will feature a female protagonist. The actor-producer confirmed the news on Instagram as he welcomed a team of female writers to the franchise.
“As you know, there are three new spin-offs that we have promised Universal... well this week we heard a pitch for the Fast female protagonist driven spin-off I created in 2017, and you can tell by the smile on Samantha’s face it was VERY exciting. Shout out to Nicole Perlman, Lindsey Beer, Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Welcome to the Fast FAMILY...,” he posted.
Perlman and Robertson-Dworet co-wrote ‘Captain Marvel’, while Beer wrote the Netflix film, ‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’.
There is no news yet on the other two spin-offs.
The ‘Fast & Furious’ timeline
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Streetcar racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) teams up with undercover cop Brian O’Conner (late Paul Walker) to take down the ruthless Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) who’s involved in big-rig hijacking.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Ex-police officer Brian moves to Miami and gets involved in the street-racing scene. He befriends Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Suki (Devon Aoki), but his past life catches up and he must work with Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) to take down a drug dealer.
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) is a street racer who moves to Japan to live with his father. There he learns about an exciting new style of the sport. However, when Sean takes on the local champion and falls for the man’s girlfriend, things blow up.
Fast and Furious 4 (2009)
Dominic comes out of hiding when Letty is brutally murdered. He heads back to Los Angeles and teams up with Brian to take on drug lord Arturo Braga (John Ortiz).
Fast Five (2011)
After breaking Dom out of prison, the Fast family is on the run. In Rio de Janeiro, they must do one final job before they can gain their freedom. However, a corrupt businessman wants them dead and federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is on their trail.
Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
Since the Rio heist, Dom, Brian and crew have retired as very rich fugitives. Meanwhile, Agent Hobbs has been tracking a gang of mercenary drivers. Hobbs asks Dom and his crew for help in exchange for full pardons for everyone and Letty makes a comeback.
Furious 7 (2015)
After defeating international terrorist Owen Shaw, Dom, Brian and the crew have returned to normal lives. However, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Owen’s older brother, is out for revenge. Elsewhere, Dom and company are enlisted once again to rescue a kidnapped computer hacker.
The Fate of the Furious (2017)
With Dom and Letty married, Brian and Mia retired and the rest of the crew exonerated, a normal life is on the horizon but a mysterious woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) forces Dom to betray them all. Hobbs, Deckard Shaw and the rest of the gang unite to take her down.
Don’t miss it!
‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ is out in the UAE on August 1.