“Original Parts, New Model.” This is the tagline that runs at the end of the new trailer for Universal’s Fast And Furious, the fourth installment in the popular (to varying degrees) street racing franchise. For this one, the original cast of The Fast And The Furious has come back, and at this point in their careers, they’re sort of a motley crew of former stars. We have Vin Diesel, who turned his back on the franchise after the first film, but is now desperately in need of a hit, considering his last success was 2005’s Disney film The Pacifier ($113 million). I guess that’s what you get when you bite the hand that feeds you… Also returning is Paul Walker. Though Walker appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious, he did not appear in The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, and his career has stalled since 2006’s Eight Below ($81 million). Finally we have, Michelle Rodriguez, who seems to have replaced her headshots with mugshots in the last few years, after getting killed off of Lost. Suffice it to say, these three actors could use some box office success. But will they be able to fight off the diminishing returns the franchise has witnessed over the years? Take a look at what I mean:
This was a nice surprise for Universal, as the film only cost $38 million to produce. The breakout hit put Vin Diesel on the map, and took Paul Walker out of his high school stage after She’s All That and Varsity Blues. A franchise was born.
Although the budget doubled to $76 million, people had trouble getting as excited about a sequel that was missing one of the main characters, since Vin Diesel did not return. Although, 2 Fast 2 Furious did give us Eva Mendes, so I can’t be too hard on it…
Universal’s attempt to relaunch the franchise with new face Lucas Black did not work out so well, and the third installment, which featured none of the original cast, grossed less than half of its predecessor. People did praise director Justin Lin for some eye-popping chase scenes, though.
Personally, I’m rooting for them! Maybe it’s because I was 12 years old, and finally allowed to go to the movies by myself, when The Fast And The Furious came out, but I just can’t help but support this franchise. (I think there is something about entertainment you watch between the ages of 8 and 13 that makes you ever-nostalgic for it. Power Rangers, Lizzie McGuire, where have you gone?) These films don’t take themselves too seriously, the chase scenes are pretty amazing, stuff blows up, the dialogue is ridiculous, I have a ton fun, and now I’m finding myself so excited that the original cast is back. Fast And Furious has wisely chosen a Spring release date of April 3, 2009, away from the crowded Summer action slate, and Tokyo Drift director, Justin Lin, has returned to helm the reboot. The stars seems to be aligned for a speedy (hah!) comeback, and I think that Fast And Furious be headed for at least $100 million, and probably more. Vin, Paul, Michelle, you’re going to get your careers back on track because I know there are other people out there who are just as excited as me! Right?! Right? …right? …..oh gosh, this is embarrassing.