John Woo deserved better. The legendary Hong Kong action director — an icon in the genre, whose influence extends to most people directing action movies today — only got a few cracks at breaking into the American market, and one of those cracks was a Bennifer-era Affleck vehicle that is best left undiscussed. Why did we do that? Why did we do that to John Woo? What did John Woo ever do to us, other than provide us with hours of pulse-quickening entertainment, often featuring Chow Yun-fat or John Travolta, and sometimes John Travolta pretending to be a supervillain played by Nicolas Cage? How was that not enough for us? It’s shameful, really. We should have been better to John Woo.
And so, with that in mind, I have a suggestion. A make-good, if you will. We should let John Woo direct a Fast & Furious movie.
The key word here is “let.” We should not make John Woo direct a Fast & Furious movie. He hasn’t directed an American action movie since the aforementioned Affleck film, Paycheck, in 2003. Maybe he doesn’t have any interest in it. Maybe he’s perfectly fine directing films in Hong Kong and has no desire to return to the Hollywood studio system. Maybe he wants no part in joining up with an in-progress action franchise after Mission Impossible II, a mostly fine movie that didn’t work out quite the way anyone hoped, even though the motorcycle shootout near the end was dope as heck and I’ll scream right into your big stupid face if you won’t admit that.
That’s okay. Mostly I just want John Woo to be happy in whatever he’s doing. He’s earned that at this point. But we should at least ask him if he wants to direct a Fast & Furious movie. And if he says yes, we should let him.
It not just the legacy reasons, either, although it is partly that. It’s also because I think it would be cool and good. John Woo would direct the hell out of a Fast & Furious movie. Especially now, with the franchise going bigger and bigger with each new release, to the point that I no longer joke about a film taking place on the moon because a) it honestly might happen, and b) I called the submarine thing in Fate of the Furious and I’m a little scared I’m developing powers. John Woo was meant to direct one of these. The man knows frenetic action and huge stunts. The man can craft the hell out of a gunfight or Mexican standoff and knows his way around questionable physics and biology in the interest of advancing a plot. John Woo directed Face/Off. This alone qualifies him for the job, and most other jobs, for that matter. I mean…
Hell yeah. Look at that. Look at all of it. The style. The tension. The “whatever the heck John Travolta is doing for most of it, don’t worry, it’s fine, because Nicolas Cage is somehow doing more of it, like the two of them were engaged in a battle-within-the-battle to see who could do the most before anyone stepped in and said ‘Okay, yeah, that might be a little too much, guys.” It’s beautiful. Now picture this but with The Rock and Vin Diesel and Jason Statham and Charlize Theron. And replace the church with, say, the streets of Beijing, where this hypothetical movie might hypothetically take place, with everyone screaming through intersections in choreographed drifts while leaning out their windows with golden pistols in each hand, squeezing off shots as large chunks of the city explode around them.
Also, birds. Lots of birds. So many birds, just flapping around, between and through the bullets, as is John Woo’s trademark. I’m not going to lie to you, this was the first thing that made me want a John Woo Fast & Furious movie. I woke up one morning with this crystal clear image in my mind of Ludacris screeching into frame in a supercharged neon Honda, in slow-motion, trying to evade a dozen henchmen on dirtbikes, with somewhere north of 100 doves surrounding his car. Tell me you can’t see that now, too. It’s beautiful.
Or maybe you need something a little more tangible. Okay, fine. Take this scene from Furious 7, the one where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker flee a bazooka-toting Jason Statham by soaring through the Abu Dhabi sky in a multimillion-dollar sports car.
Now, add birds. Everywhere. Coming out of the building, coming out of the car, just kind of chilling between the two skyscrapers, whatever. It’s better, right? It’s definitely better. No disrespect to James Wan, who did a fine job with Furious 7, and yes, I did cry a little at the end, but it’s time. It’s time to offer John Woo the director’s chair for a Fast & Furious movie. It doesn’t have to be the next one. He can do the tenth film in the franchise. A nice round number. That feels right. And good. It feels right and good.
Unless this upcoming spinoff starring The Rock and Jason Statham involves face-swapping. We don’t know that it doesn’t and I see no reason it can’t. It probably should. (We know Statham would be on board, for one thing.) And if it does, if the Fast & Furious spinoff starring The Rock and Jason Statham involves face-swapping, well, I think there’s only one acceptable solution.
We have to let John Woo direct that movie.