Long-running Fast and Furious franchise is back for part 9 – running on Diesel

Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges and Tyrese Gibson in Fast & Furious 9.

Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges and Tyrese Gibson in Fast & Furious 9.

F9 sees the return of Vin Diesel as street racer and international super agent Dominic Toretto, whose attempts for a quiet family life off the grid are disrupted by a criminal conspiracy that threatens world order.

Former professional wrestler John Cena plays Jakob, Dom’s long-lost brother, and the action takes place around the world – and beyond.

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Diesel, who also produces Universal’s F9 and has served as the backbone of the multi-billion dollar franchise since its first appearance in The Fast And The Furious in 2001, has said he enjoys slipping into the character.

Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez in Fast & Furious 9.

“I feel like I’ve never been gone,” he says, “It’s been 20 great years. And I feel lucky to have a studio that really supports the evolution of the character.

The now 53-year-old action star Diesel has become synonymous with Dominic, and even admits he’s no longer sure where the line is between the two.

“Isn’t that the question, where does Vin end and where Dom begins?” he thinks.

“After 20 years, I’m not sure. There are moments in the movie that are taken directly from [my life].

“The scene where I put my son to sleep, this exchange on, ‘Daddy, do you know where God is?’ literally comes from my daughter and put her to sleep.

“And so, of course, we all know how much family matters in my personal life, and we all know how central the theme of family is to the franchise.”

As Diesel says, family is the major theme of F9.

Dominic’s core team make a comeback, with Michelle Rodriguez returning as wife Letty, Jordana Brewster as sister Mia, Tyrese Gibson as former con artist Roman, Ludacris as sarcastic mechanic Tej and Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey, the British hacker.

The gang is engaged in a high-stakes battle against criminal mastermind Cipher, played by Charlize Theron, who has joined forces with Jakob and his super-wealthy backer in an attempt to bring world governments into line.

It was the introduction of previously unknown Jakob that ignited the imagination of F9 director Justin Lin, who directed the third, fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of the series.

“For me, it was the idea of ​​exploring the theme of family more, but this time with blood,” he says.

“Something that hadn’t been done, and for us to do something for the very first time in Chapter Nine, was exciting.

“It felt like it was worth coming back.”

Lin’s return to the franchise has led to another comeback that will thrill fans – that of Sung Kang’s Han Lue.

Gangster and racing driver, Han first appeared in The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006, but appears to have been killed.

His death angered fans and sparked the multi-year social media campaign #JusticeForHan.

Lin was thrilled to be able to resurrect the character.

He says: “The fans had a right to feel that he was sort of rejected in the way he was treated. Coming back, it was something I felt we needed to sort out.

“In the end, it was a gift for me to not only be able to work with Sung Kang, but also to bring back this beloved character. It was a challenge, but I give the fans 100% credit. It wouldn’t have happened without them.

The F9 was originally scheduled to arrive in April 2020, before the pandemic kicked in and pushed it back for more than a year.

It screams on the big screen as the pandemic abates in the UK and US, with theaters reopening and the box office return.

The film is set to be one of the best performers since the health crisis and is expected to add a considerable sum to the franchise’s gross total of more than $ six billion (£ 4.3 billion).

Emmanuel, who rose to fame after playing Missandei in Game Of Thrones, notes that fans deserve to get away from it all after a traumatic year.

She says, “It has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone, and in a way that I personally cannot imagine for some people.

“So the fact that we can come back to the movies together and watch these movies that we love and grew up with, it kind of feels like a reunion, a family reunion.

“And I think people really deserve this, they really deserve the fun and the escape that these movies give us.”

While much of the adrenaline-fueled F9 deals with high-octane action perfectly suited for cinema, it also includes low-key and emotionally resonant moments that are sure to touch fans.

Alongside Diesel, Paul Walker was the face of the franchise, until he was killed in a car crash in Southern California in 2013. He was 40 years old.

F9 presents a tribute to the star, a nod that Emmanuel considers an essential part of the franchise’s DNA.

“They are important for every movie, since it’s passed and it’s moving forward,” she says.

“He’s a part of those movies, it’s essential that we remember him and include him and his character in every movie.”

Diesel says his close friendship with his “brother” Walker – whom he nicknames “Pablo” – is what he cherishes most about movies.

He says, “I guess the highlight is all around Pablo. These are the moments that I remember. And obviously when you lose a family member you cherish every moment, we all do.

“These are the memories I keep close to me and cherish the most.”

Diesel adds: “But I’ve had some wonderful, wonderful times over those 20 years, because the people I make films with have become family.

“My dad used to say, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.’

“And what I’ve learned from doing this franchise is the only thing better than that is to do what you love with the people you love. And I can say that’s the most rewarding aspect of Fast And Furious.

About Wendy Hall

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