Warning: “Fate of the Furious” spoilers ahead.
Calling the “Fast and the Furious” series a full-throttle success is an understatement. Having grossed $4.4 billion worldwide and counting, Universal Pictures’ most successful franchise in history now has one mantra: Bigger is better. So far, so good, considering “The Fate of the Furious” just landed the largest global opening weekend of all time.
At this point, bigger means revving up the plots to include a tangled web of villains (Charlize Theron’s dreadlocked Cipher is the latest) and villains-turned-heroes (Jason Statham’s Dackard Shaw has joined the family after they targeted his terrorist brother, Owen). Still, all this gravity-defying action must come to an end at some point, right? Based on the title alone, “The Fate of the Furious” sounds like a solid climax for this long, expensive ride.
Nope! No way. You see, “The Fate of the Furious” introduces a whole new trilogy, according to Vin Diesel, who’s appeared in almost every installment since the 2001 original. With “Fate of the Furious” marking the eighth entry, that guarantees us at least 10 movies in total, not to mention talk of spinoffs surrounding individual characters.
Now there’s another way Universal can keep this franchise speeding into the future: little baby Brian. Named after the late Paul Walker’s police-officer protagonist, Brian was introduced in “The Fate of the Furious” as the charming infant son of Dom (Diesel) and Brazilian cop Elena (Elsa Pataky). He’s already pivotal to the plot, with evil Cipher kidnapping Brian as ammo so Dom will subscribe to her vague plot to secure Russian nuclear codes. The tyke survives and Dom returns from the dark side, joining the crew for a rooftop barbecue after they vanquish Cipher and her cronies (for now).
Thus, the potential future of the “Furious” has been sealed. If Universal wants to keep the franchise alive for eternity, all it has to do is put the storyline in this baby’s hands. (Too bad “Baby Driver” is already a movie title.) End the 10th installment with Dom teaching a teenage Brian how to take over the family’s vigilantism, and we’ve got 10 more films on our hands. Yippee.
“Fast and the Furious” releases have become a biennial April tradition. One could argue they alone are why summer blockbuster season now spans spring, too. With studios slating sequels years in advance, Universal will soon consider whether to extend this property’s shelf life past April 2021, at which point it will have been running red lights for a whopping two decades. It makes sense: The physics-agnostic stunts get crazier with every go-round, and the series remains a force to be reckoned with among audiences of all races. To boot, the plots are so ludicrous that they have effectively become critic-proof.
If nothing else, we can expect wee Brian to make another showing in the ninth outing, which will open in 2019. Director F. Gary Gray and the cast have sung the little actor’s praises. “He was really smiling all the time,” Pataky told The Hollywood Reporter. “One of the scenes ... he was actually pulling Vin’s hand and saying, ‘Da-da, da-da.’ I couldn’t believe it. He is going to have a big career.”