Am I excited to see The Fate Of The Furious? Of course I’m excited to see The Fate Of The Furious. I’m a 39-year-old man with a pulse, so it’s required by law that I regard the release of this movie as a national holiday. (Though, really, the demo for The Fate Of The Furious is basically just “people who like seeing stuff blown up real good by attractive movie stars,” i.e. pretty much everyone.) However, I must admit that I’m distracted by my own idea for the next Fast & Furious movie, because I think it would truly go down as the best film in the series. Is this a recklessly bold statement? Perhaps. But hear me out.
The name of the movie is The Fate Of The Family.
It opens with the family kicking it on the beach on some tropical island, right after the end of The Fate Of The Furious. Joining them is Charlize Theron, who plays the villain in The Fate Of The Furious though I’m assuming that she ends up being a good guy by the end of the movie. Anyway, everybody is drinking Coronas and having a wonderful time. We cut to Roman playing volleyball with some bikini-clad ladies. Roman smacks the ball too hard and it lands near a beautiful woman sunbathing nearby.
As Roman approaches the woman, we see that it is none other than Anne Hathaway, who plays a Russian mafia scion named Anna Tarasov. Roman, of course, flirts with Anna, and they wind up back in her hotel room. But instead of hanky panky, Roman is instead clubbed over the head by Anna’s goons, who take him hostage. Soon, she sends a message to the family: If you ever want to see Roman again, you have pull of one last job. Tarasov wants them to steal a 1969 Mustang that belongs to her enemy.
The first hour of the movie shows the family preparing to pull off the heist. Theron rigs up a special doohickey that will turn any iPhone within a 10-mile radius into a drone that can launch missiles. Ludacris steals an air-craft carrier. Kurt Russell wears a suit and explains the engineering of ’69 Mustangs. Other plausible actions are taken. Finally, the family goes off to steal the car and they pull off the job without a hitch.
The only problem is that the car belongs to John Wick.
The second hour of the movie is John Wick is taking his revenge by systematically murdering the members of the family.
I’m not saying this idea is perfect. Structurally, there are problems. Maybe the air-craft carrier idea is a little stupid. Perhaps Carrie Coon would be better as the Russian gangster. I’m not a filmmaker — I’m just spit-balling here. But does the first hour of the movie matter anyway? The point is that the family would fight John Wick and John Wick would win because John Wick is an indestructible killing machine and it’s his time to preside over the top action franchise.
The Fast & Furious series has had a good run. The arc of the franchise resembles the career of a long-running indie band. 2000’s The Fast And The Furious was the scrappy debut that comes out of nowhere to win over millions of hearts. 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious is the pretty good but slightly bloated sophomore record. 2006’s The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift is the divisive third album that hard-core contrarians insist years later is “actually” the best entry in the catalogue. 2009’s Fast & Furious is the “we’re back!” LP. 2011’s Fast Five is the “we just put out a hot single and we’re now headlining festivals” album. And 2013’s Fast & Furious 6 and 2015’s Furious 7 mark the official coronation of “legacy band” status.
At one time, the Fast & Furious series qualified as a guilty pleasure. In the ’00s, these were the movies you watched on TNT on mornings when you were too hungover to get up off the coach. Making a case that these films were actually, you know, kind of good felt subversive, like a form of cinematic poptimism. But that time has long since passed.
Now stumping for the Fast & Furious series feels like signing off with the consensus. Somehow, the franchise has gotten more respectable as the movies have gotten more ridiculous. Perhaps you’ve noticed the wall-to-wall coverage The Fate Of The Furious has engendered on practically every single culture site in the past few weeks. There is no shortage of analysis of every crevice of this series. I’m not complaining. But let’s be honest: It’s slightly less fun now, right? This thing that once seemed disreputable and enjoyably trashy and now seems almost like … prestigious trash.
And then there’s John Wick.
The John Wick movies are what the Fast & Furious movies were 10 years ago. John Wick is the scrappy upstart that nobody thought would go the distance and now seems like could go on forever. John Wick: Chapter 2 wasn’t quite as good as the first John Wick, but it’s definitely better than 2 Fast 2 Furious, and it’s still one of my most purely fun movie experiences this year. And while John Wick 3 hasn’t been officially announced yet, the end of Chapter 2 sets up a third installment that would essentially pit Keanu Reeves in a battle royale with every known assassin in the world. Is this really an idea you can screw up? Just typing that sentence is 90 percent of the work.
The world is big enough for more Fast & Furious and John Wick movies. I will pay to see movies from both franchises as long as they make them. But if the family knows what’s good for them, they’ll keep their distance from Baba Yaga. That guy is just getting started.