fast and furious counting family

The Family Speaks

As I mentioned when we reviewed The Fate of the Furious on the /Filmcast, there’s a scene in the film in which Hobbs reads Deckard Shaw’s military history and realizes he’s a decorated veteran. The new info pivots the character from a villain to a misunderstood hero who has a code much like Dom’s: he’s in it to protect his family. There’s clearly more to Deckard than we’ve seen, and writer/producer Chris Morgan has hinted that there’s a chance we see Han again in a future film and that Shaw’s past will be explored and some of our lingering questions will be answered.

In an interview with The L.A. Times Jen Yamato, Morgan and much of the cast spoke about the #JusticeForHan movement and what the future holds for the Fast movies.

Jason Statham hinted that we don’t know the full story yet:

“…You know, that whole episode has not fully detailed exactly what happened. I’m not going to say anything more than that! But [Morgan] likes to annoy the fans and please the fans and get all these angry protests. So, more to come.”

But last night, at a screening of Better Luck Tomorrow in Hollywood, director Justin Lin (Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6), was flabbergasted to learn what happened at the end of Fate. At a Q&A following the screening, he said he hadn’t seen the new film yet, but when Yamato (who moderated the discussion) explained it to him, he was shocked. “What?” he asked incredulously. “Statham’s character is now part of the family? Aw…” He was very obviously disappointed at the decision.

Longtime Fast actress Michelle Rodriguez certainly sympathizes with the #JusticeForHan supporters. “When [Deckard] was introduced, they didn’t even think for us to give him any flack when he walked in. And we were like, ‘Yo, dude, this guy killed one of our boys! You know it doesn’t fly like that!'”

“At the end of the day, you’re talking about a Hollywood demographic blockbuster character overriding story,” she said. “That’s the battle that you have when you make movies this big. They were like, ‘We know that the grand majority of the audience wants to see this guy be on your side, so that overrides the fact that he killed one of your guys.'”

That sounds like a damning portrait of Hollywood filmmaking, but Morgan clearly has something up his sleeve:

“I think you’ll learn a lot more about it, and I don’t know if that hashtag will be the appropriate one to put on it down the road,” he told the L.A. Times. “But I can tell you this: We will definitely be talking more about Han. But I would say this. From the initial conceit of Deckard, I’ve never really thought of him as a bad guy. He was definitely against our team but he’s a guy with a code who loves his family.”

Han Seoul-Oh Fast and Furious

Justification and Judgment

For me, this whole thing boils down to how fans think about these movies. Do the majority of Fast fans place more value the individual parts of the franchise’s twenty-year saga, or on looking back and seeing the story as a whole when all is said and done? I can see why defenders might take the “wait and see” approach because it’s nice to think that a franchise you love is being planned out ahead of time and leading to a known conclusion. But I don’t think that justifies problems within the individual parts.

As Morgan told me in my own interview with him, he considers this franchise’s storytelling to be more like that of a cable TV series; using that comparison, there are certainly episodes (and even seasons) of Game of Thrones that don’t work nearly as well as others, and just because I still love the show doesn’t mean it’s flawless. I think we have to look at the individual components as opposed to the larger story because that’s all we have.

Han might come back in future movies. Fast 9 might open with Letty ranting about why the team allowed Shaw on the team. But even if those things come to pass, nothing will change the fact that at this exact point in this series, a saga that’s supposed to be about family threw one of their own under the bus.

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