Furious 7: New Chapter in Popular Saga

fast_and_furious_7_posterThe audacious saga of young guns who live and drive by an outlaw code, The Fast and the Furious, was the sleeper summer hit of 2001, racking up $207 million at the worldwide box office.

Over the course of six films that have continued to appeal to an ever-expanding, die-hard audience and an astounding $2.4 billion in receipts, Universal’s record-smashing franchise has become the studio’s most-profitable and longest running.

On social media platforms, fan following for the movies and cast has grown into the biggest of any active franchise.  With family firmly rooted at its core, the Fast & Furious series has evolved into a touchstone for moviegoers following characters, whose journeys continue to unlock and reveal surprising emotional depth. It has escalated into a phenomenon that has taken the street-racing outlaws to pull off nearly impossible feats in far-flung locales from Japan, Mexico and the Dominican Republic to Brazil, the Canary Islands and Great Britain. In Furious 7, this crew heads across the globe for one last ride together in their most gravity-defying and emotional adventure to date.

fast_and_furious_7_11_walkerThe original actors return to form a furious team of seven family members united in purpose.  Furious 7 picks up a year after Dom (Diesel) and Brian’s (Walker) crew has returned to the States with their pardons. They are transitioning into life on the right side of the law, but home has taken on a surreal quality. Dom tries desperately to reconnect with Letty (Rodriguez), while Brian struggles to acclimate to suburban life with Mia (Brewster) and their son. Tej (Bridges) and Roman (Gibson) celebrate their freedom by living the playboy dream.

Unbeknownst to all, however, a cold-blooded British black ops assassin arrives, with a score to settle. Beginning his reign of terror with the brutal murder of Han  (Sung Kang) in Tokyo and the attempted assassination of Hobbs (Johnson) in L.A., Deckard Shaw (Statham) is hunting down those who took out Owen (Luke Evans), his little brother, during their last mission.

When Shaw blows up the Toretto house, the family’s very symbol of sanctuary given to the crew to regain their freedom, Dom must turn to a high-level government operative (Russell) for assistance. Our heroes’ only hope is to get behind the wheel again and secure an ingenious prototype tracking device for the U.S. government. In return, they’ll use it to locate Shaw before he can kill again.

fast_and_furious_7_10As they form a tighter band than ever: The Furious 7—Dom, Brian, Hobbs, Letty, Roman, Tej and Mia—will face their greatest threat yet in places as far away as Abu Dhabi and Azerbaijan.

As Fast & Furious 6 concluded and director Justin Lin wrapped his four-film-long run with the franchise, producers Moritz and Diesel and screenwriter Morgan began the search for somebody to take the position behind the camera.

They needed a filmmaker who could step in and oversee the multiple moving parts of an established, big-budget, fan-driven franchise while furthering the key story, character and action beats that have resonated with fans for more than a decade.

Australian director James Wan, who had reinvigorated the suspense genre with such blockbuster hits as Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious, would sign on to take over the reins for the next chapter. Known for character-driven, innovative and commercial fare that features dramatic tension in highly visual work, Wan knew he was ready to helm the latest entry of a series synonymous with inventive mythology and over-the-top action.

fast_and_furious_7_9Wan was keen to place his imprint in the genre on such a high-profile film as Furious 7. “I’m a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise, first and foremost, but it was exciting for me to break out of the genre that I’m generally known for and tackle such a big and beloved series,” Wan says. “A big part of my goal for Furious 7 was to push myself to the limit and bring something a bit different to the table. The idea of playing in a playground as big and established as this one is fascinating.”

Considering Fast Five’s postscript shocker that revealed Letty Ortiz was still alive, fans impatiently waited for another epilogue in Fast & Furious 6 that would propel the saga in a surprising new direction.

The filmmakers did not let them down. The revelatory coda that followed the last movie not only set the next sequence of events in motion, but it satisfied the franchise’s most frequently asked question regarding the timeline of how Tokyo Drift and Sung Kang’s laconically cool Han, who was first introduced in that film, fit into the franchise’s timeline and serialized narrative.

fast_and_furious_7_8_bridges_gibsonAs the producers have long intimated, the multi-film arc did absolutely include Tokyo Drift and was extended by the brotherhood between Dom and Han. The third movie would eventually and strategically nest into the larger Fast & Furious mythology. It was all part of a master plan.

The reveal of the heretofore unknown driver, portrayed by a methodically serene Jason Statham, who rammed Han’s car with his Mercedes, is the hallmark of the franchise’s clever mining of past character and plot elements to spark riveting new storylines. It’s a testament to what has sustained the Fast saga for well over a decade, keeping audiences thoroughly entertained and engaged with story points and action that keep them coming back.

fast_and_furious_7_7_dieselDiesel is respectful of moviegoers who’ve placed their trust in the core team who has shepherded all seven of the films. He says: “The fact that the audience has allowed us to jump around in the chronology of Fast, and has been willing to take that ride and stay with us, is a feat in itself. One of the cool things about the way we’ve orchestrated the Fast & Furious saga for the last 10 years is that nothing is accidental. Everything comes together in Furious 7. Questions are answered, and new thoughts are proposed. If it lives in the saga, it’s a seed for something new and will be revisited.”

fast_and_furious_7_6_diesel_rodriguezFor longtime Fast screenwriter-executive producer Morgan, who is on his fifth tour of duty with the series, that means continuously updating his effective color-coded Post-it note system—one that has tracked everything from past characters, cars and specific story points within bigger arcs—some tying back to previous films, as well as significant talismans such as Dom’s silver cross pendant. “Everyone and everything has value in our world,” provides Morgan. “This honors what the franchise is, and it honors the fans who return to enjoy the next chapter.”

Letty’s circuitous journey back to Dom proves to be a nearly insurmountable hurdle as she tries to piece together her past and find her emotional footing…so she has a chance at sharing her future with her soul mate.

fast_and_furious_7_6_diesel_rodriguezRiveting storylines an likable characters are not the only draw for Fast & Furious audiences. Deeply interactive cast and film engagement on social media platforms has allowed die-hard fans unheard-of access to talent and exclusive material that has fostered a years-long dialogue and symbiotic relationship.

Due to the interactive, immersive nature of social media, it’s one that has grown exponentially larger with each successive release. There’s an ownership unique to Fast audiences, often looked to as barometers of tone and story, as well as tastemakers of locations and cars.

fast_and_furious_7_5_dieselDiesel, a close monitor of the series’ online presence, has harnessed that feedback, most notably by taking heed of the online outcry over Letty’s death in Fast &Furious—polling fans on who they would like to see (re)join the series and rewarding them with firsthand information about the films in real time. The actor-producer proved to be a much valued partner to director Wan, who appreciated the camaraderie and fellowship offered by Diesel. The director shares: “Vin was a vital partner for me with this film. Having his support made a huge difference with my coming onboard as the director. Very early on, we talked about the characters and the overall franchise—where it’s been and where it could go in the future. That early friendship between us helped the making of Furious 7 be so much more productive. Obviously, he knows what to do with the character of Dom, but he was very open to my directing and guiding him. I was and am very grateful for that.”