Will the FAST AND FURIOUS Franchise Ditch the Street Racing for a Series of Heist Movies?

     April 25, 2011


The Fast and the Furious series is one of the major gaps in my male cinematic knowledge.  I am too effeminate, too pretentious.  However, I have much respect for the continued success of the franchise after the 2009 surge to a series-best $353 million worldwide box office with Fast & FuriousFast Five opens this Friday, and the smart money is on “Major Hit.”  The producers wisely tapped into the core appeal of the films and secured virtually every major player in the series — including Vin Diesel, Paul Walker,  Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang — and upped the ante by casting potential action god Dwayne Johnson.

Pretend you’re a studio executive for a second.  At this point, you wouldn’t reinvent the market’s premier car movie brand to cater to someone like this silly writer, right?  And yet, Universal chairman Adam Fogelson is discussing just such a shift.

Chris Morgan — screenwriter on Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, and Fast Five — was previously hired to start work on a sixth film.  Deadline reports the sequel is set up to revolve around a robbery: “Universal’s intent is to transform this street racing franchise into a series of heist films.”  More after the jump.

When we spoke to producer Neal Moritz in January, he already had a good idea about what Fast Six will be:

“We already know what the sixth movie is, we’ve already been talking about it… Vin and I have had numerous conversations about what that might be. And we’re starting to get serious about it right now. We just finished the movie like 4 or 5 weeks ago and we just needed a break, and now we’re gonna start focusing on that.”


Fogelson told Deadline tonight:

“The question putting Fast Five and Fast Six together for us was: Can we take it out of being a pure car culture movie and into being a true action franchise in the spirit of those great heist films made 10 or 15 years ago?”

I appreciate the boldness and willingness to keep things fresh.  But I don’t understand the logic.  Fast and Furious carved out this great niche of big, dumb car-centric fun, unrivaled if you don’t count sci-fi cousin Transformers.  The advice “stay your lane” has never been more appropriate.

To be fair, Fogelson talks about keeping cars in the movie, albeit less prominently:

“We’ve heard so many people say, ‘I’ve never seen one, and I’ve never wanted to see one…’ about the Fast franchise.  So if these movies were still about street racing, there was probably a ceiling on how many people would buy tickets. We wanted to see if we could raise it out of about racing and make car driving ability just a part of the movie, like those great chases in The French Connection, The Bourne Identity, The Italian Job.”

I am one of those who has seen not a frame of fastness nor furiousness, so I may have no idea what I’m talking about.  If you excise the races from any given movie, are you left with anything of substance?  Can Diesel and Walker anchor a solid heist film?  Aren’t heist movies supposed to be, you know, smart?

Here’s the synopsis for Fast Five; read it before it becomes irrelevant.

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead a reunion of returning all-stars from every chapter of the explosive franchise built on speed in Fast Five. In this installment, former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) on the opposite side of the law. Dwayne Johnson joins returning favorites Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Matt Schulze, Tego Calderon and Don Omar for this ultimate high-stakes race. Since Brian and Mia Toretto (Brewster) broke Dom out of custody, they’ve blown across many borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom. As they assemble their elite team of top racers, the unlikely allies know their only shot of getting out for good means confronting the corrupt businessman who wants them dead. But he’s not the only one on their tail. Hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) never misses his target. When he is assigned to track down Dom and Brian, he and his strike team launch an all-out assault to capture them. But as his men tear through Brazil, Hobbs learns he can’t separate the good guys from the bad. Now, he must rely on his instincts to corner his prey…before someone else runs them down first.

  • pj_campbell

    Good article. I have to say though, since you’ve never seen any of them, it’s hard for you to criticize the films for not having more than just races. There are actually some great characters in this series, and some of the best parts of the movies are the things that happen between the characters. At least for me. These movies also aren’t big, dumb and loud. They’re not super intelligent though either. They walk a fine line between both I feel. They’re not something like Die Hard, but they aren’t Transformers either. I’ve been a big fan of the series for a while, so I’ll defend it.

    I honestly think moving towards a heist direction with the series could be interesting. I mean, that was always a key component in the movies, now they’re just taking it to the next level while the driving ends up being secondary. There’s really nothing wrong with that. I applaud a series for reinventing itself while not losing grasp of what made it popular.

  • Mark Adams


    I totally agree with you. I would like to see where they take the series!

  • gorgo

    I think they should use real cars next time instead of the CGI mess they use in the 1st movie & the last. With the great box office potentials of the series, Universal could allocate more budget to shoot the racing scenes real like Paul Greengrass did in another successful Universal series: the BOURNE movies. The chase through Moscow in SUPREMACY is probably the best shot car chase sequence in history of cinema. The impact feels real, the characters feel fear, and the audience is thrilled.

  • geHuC

    @gorgo in the fifth one they destroy more cars than i can count and non seemed cg like the ones they used in the tunnel chase scene in the 4th one. As far as going heist i personally don’t mind if they keep the action up to par, if 5 can be counted as a heist ( only heist movie i think i’ve seen is oceans 11 so not sure xD ) then i think they’ll be ok.

  • Roland

    Yeah, I agree with @geHuC. I don’t think the cars in Fast Five looked like CGI at all, and I enjoyed Fast Five. It’s quite funny in bits and it’s a good popcorn flick. As for the whole heist thing, I don’t see why not. It worked for Fast Five quite nicely. As long as cars remain an integral part of the action (since that’s pretty much the series’ DNA) it’s alright. I mean, how long can they keep the films focused mailnly on street racing. I think its a good thing that they’re swistching it up, but I’m not sure I want to see A LOT more sequels– maybe just one, or two more if they’re pushing it, then wrap it up for good. Too bad money talks in Hollywood and “quit while you’re ahead” doesn’t apply. As long as they are making money they will keep them coming until they’ve worn their welcome.

  • nawtnt

    Fast and Fuious films were not hiests movies, I mean the very first one was about cars, friendship, speed and a bit of hiests.

    The second one wasn’t about hiest but actually about being undercover.

    The third one was about Tokyo drifts.

    The fourth was a prequel to The third one was acutally about revenge and loyalitys.

    Now Fast and Furious 5 which I haven’t watched, seems to be about hiests.

    I just hope Fast and Furious 6 is the last one as the fifth movie is getting good reviews and I want the series to end with a bang.

    Maybe no more prequels but instead be a sequel to Tokyo Drifts.

    Maybe bring back the Rock for the last one.

    • Alex-mansy

      Yes that’s an accurate summary.

      Fast Five does take the heist aspect of the series by far to the greatest heights. BUT not without suffering in other departments, primarily in character development and story.

      It might be interesting what they’ll do with the series now that they have Dwayne Johnston as a new character in the series (replacing Walker and Diesel who are no buddies).

      The cast just gets better and better too.

      If anything Fast Five tried to cram too much in 2 hours. We get numerous new character introductions along with a complex plot.

  • cuteview

    Who cares…I haven’t even seen any of these movies…

  • Hairyman

    @cuteview: You aren’t special. Thanks for your dumb comment.

    I have looked forward to this for some time. I think that they should end after the 6th, I would just like to see them go back to the racing roots and end it with a bang.

    • Alex-mansy

      I think Diesels age is showing, him running around and beating up people comes of as unrealistic now.

      He should use vehicles more.

  • Pete

    I was actually surprised at Fast 5 (Once again, like Thor, Australia gets it first). Gone are the cartoonish look of NOS, gangster talks, and they finally used far better cars albeit towards the end: Lexis LFA (my dream car) and Koenigsegg CCXR, Nissan GTR both far better than american cars. Still the acting is average (Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster particularly). Good to see Dwayne Johnson as well.

  • space cadet

    nothing beats the first an second after that i didn’t give a shit about the movies that followed. the first movie paul walkers character is more like the main character in the 4th one they put all attention on diesel with every other character in the shadow.

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  • easter

    Looking fwd to part 6. Part one was POINT BREAK in a car.

    imo, it has taken four episodes to get it right with the 5th. Each film has been sufficiently different from the last one to keep me interested. They need to jettison the all-stars again and streamline it for part 6…. They also need to tie up some loose ends like SUNG KANG… Didn’t he die in Tokyo in Part 3?… Or is was he hiding in Vin Diesel’s trunk so he could work in Cuba at the start of Part 4…? Or is 4&5 a prequel to Part 3? bring in Lucas Black’s character from TOKYO DRIFT too… He is a loose end that I’d like to see brought back in… If part 6 works in PART 3 to the plot things will be complete…

    They end to do a spin on the hesit theme…. It’s good that this series keeps changing…

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  • Duane

    All of the movies were based around a hiest were they not. I mean they whole time its been about cops and robbers. So how would this change anything. If they take away the car scene i dont think this will bring in the yought and gather the hype like these movies have over the years. The best thing about these movies is that you see whats hot in the street scene and havin these creations that normal people cant touch will help in the heists i dont know just my thoughts.

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  • Wes

    the fast and furious movies have been my favorite since i was young. they did get better on each one. the fifth one was by far the best and i believe that if they change it up to making it more about heists that they should keep the cars as a huge aspect of it. im so ready to see what they bring to the table in the 6th one and i think i would like to see a 7th but that should be it. i wouldnt mind though if they kept making more because i love watching them.
    -fast&furious freak

  • Kyle

    The fist fast and the furious was all about the cars, which made for me an amazing move as i would give any thing to have a car like one of those. The intensity of the fist movie was amazing and they should have kept them all with in street racing with the cars with the big wings, neon lights, NOS, flames coming from the exhaust and the girlz. And especially the street races and the bets.

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