Last month’s release Fast & Furious 6 has already become the highest-grossing installment in the vehicular crime-thriller franchise – with a global box office take of $640 million (and counting) – and it boasts the biggest set pieces of any Fast & Furious movie to date, including the climactic battle between fast cars and a cargo airplane (zooming down the longest runaway ever built, apparently). So, the question is: how does one even attempt to top that, in Fast & Furious 7?
That’s the challenge that James Wan is facing, since he’s assuming the directorial responsibilities from Justin Lin (who put together the previous four Fast & Furious movies). No surprise, with a Summer 2014 release date hanging over his head, Wan is focusing his efforts on mapping out the physics-defying vehicle stunts and sequences for this (possibly final) lap around the figurative race track.
Here’s the status update on Fast & Furious 7, from Wan’s interview with EW:
“I’m in the pre-production stage right now. I’m in the process of designing my action sequences, working on ideas, and fleshing out things that we want to do with the characters. That’s been really fun.”
Wan is a talented filmmaker who comes from a horror genre background, which makes him a left-field choice to tackle Fast & Furious 7. He’s not exactly someone who’s at home making big-budget fare either – his last movie, Insidious, cost $1.5 million to produce – but Wan is energetic and focused, as evidenced by the fact that he’ll release the inspired by real-events ghost story The Conjuring and then the sequel Insidious: Chapter 2 just a couple months apart this year. Moreover, Universal heads have suggest that Wan has an inspired vision for the seventh Fast & Furious installment, and Lin has likewise given his blessing of approval.
Of course, the Fast & Furious 7 story was designed long before Wan came aboard to direct. In fact, eighteen months have passed since actor Vin Diesel – who plays Dominic Toretto in the franchise – first indicated that F&F7 has already begun early development. Wan confessed to EW that he very much feels like the unexpected arrival, who just stumbled onto a party that was already well under-way:
“Okay, this is how I’ve been describing it: It is like being invited to a Thanksgiving dinner and the whole family’s at the dinner [table], already carving the turkey. And I walk in through the door and everyone stops and looks at me. And I’m standing there awkwardly going, ‘Hi! I’m here! Oh, that’s my seat? Okay, I’ll come and join the table.’
“The other analogy that I use is that it’s like coming in and playing another person’s saved game. I know the characters, I know the stories, but now it’s up to me to pick it up from where it was left off and take it in a different direction — but a direction that has kind of been laid out, if that makes sense.”
Fast & Furious 7 is still zooming along at a reckless pace (more car puns!), but – much like Wan insinuated – the project isn’t starting from scratch, so much as the cast and producers are waiting on the new director to get settled in mid-flight. So long as everyone involved remembers the key ingredients – which have allowed this franchise to continue thriving creatively and entertaining audiences - then, Fast & Furious 7 should turn out decent (at the least).
[WARNING! FAST & FURIOUS 6 SPOILERS BELOW!]
Lastly, as for whether or not Jason Statham will return as the vengeful antagonist – the (presumed) brother to the recently-deceased Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) – who was introduced in the Fast & Furious 6 mid-credits sequence, Wan simply said:
Fast & Furious 6 is now playing in theaters.
Fast & Furious 7 opens in U.S. theaters on July 11th, 2014.