We recently had F9 hit theaters. That film was fun to some, and a huge miss to others. The problem resides with the fact that the series has to continually one-up itself. The addition of Dwayne Johnson to the equation in Fast 5 was a franchise saver. His presence gave the normally small-time series a big juice in the arm. Instead of stealing DVD players, they were trotting around the world. The stakes were raised.
This time around, Johnson was in the best of the franchise’s movies, Hobbs and Shaw. His chemistry with Jason Statham combined with the over-the-top-and-we-know-it plot, made that one of the most fun movies of 2019. It did incredibly well at the box office and everyone was happy. Now, we’re at a crossroads with the franchise. Vin Diesel is the lead and one of the biggest producers on the film. He has tremendous power over the whole franchise. He and Dwayne Johnson did not click when filming the movies. In addition to this, Diesel did not like that Johnson got his own spinoff while they were filming The Fate of the Furious.
Now we have Vin Diesel’s comments about “tough love” on Johnson for his acting skills coming back into the public eye. It all adds up to a battle of alpha actors in Hollywood. Dwayne Johnson, in an interview with THR, stated
“I laughed and I laughed hard. I think everyone had a laugh at that. And I’ll leave it at that. And that I’ve wished them well. I wish them well on Fast 9. And I wish them the best of luck on Fast 10 and Fast 11 and the rest of the Fast and Furious movies they do that will be without me.”
Now that’s a huge problem for the series going forward.
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Without Dwayne Johnson’s character Hobbs, you lose a lot of the fun and charm of Fast 5-8 and Hobbs and Shaw. That doesn’t mean that he can’t make a Hobbs and Shaw 2, but the mainline series need his presence to survive. F9 was dreary, and it had to cannibalize itself with action. Johnson’s character and presence all but guarantees a bit of the box office. He’s the biggest star in Hollywood for a reason. Anything he touches makes money. F9’s box office might be dampened a bit by the pandemic, but that doesn’t take away from the issues that the movie has.
The other side of this is: are we sure that Vin Diesel and Co. can hold up another 2 movies without outside insulation? This story is running dangerously thin and jumping that proverbial shark. He saved the franchise once before, it might be time for Dwayne Johnson to pull his magic again. Movies like Jungle Cruise, Black Adam, and others take time out of an already packed schedule for the actor. If he has to fit in two big-budget Fast and the Furious sequels, he’s going to have to feel wanted and needed for them.
If his recent comments are true, and not just a power play, the Fast and Furious franchise is in for some deep narrative and star-power level trouble.
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