James Wan is taking over the next movie, as you’ve probably heard. Recently, he’s been talking to ‘Empire’ in an exclusive offline (’till now, heh, heh) candid interview on his vision for the franchise. “I’m a big fan of old-school car chases. One of my favourite movies of all time is just one big car chase: Spielberg’s Duel.” Immediately encouraging, because that is oldschool. Certainly too refined and mature for approximately 110 million of Fast 6’s dudebro audience. Wan continues… “I love how simple that movie is, and how brilliantly made and constructed and shot it is, on such a low budget. I love that flm”. The key word here is ‘simple’, it seems that Wan understands that less is more.
From there, his words only get better. “But I also love Speed, Duel… The French Connection and Speed would probably be my top three”. Excellent chocies, Jimmy. Seems that while Lin was watching the Power Rangers, you had something altogether more gearhead in your DVD player. Wan also mentions the chase sequence from a much darker movie, ‘The Crow’: “That had a very cool car chase, actually, which was quite strange in that sort of fantasy world. I loved the waY it integrated miniatures and models with that style of shooting where the car is basically still but it’s being rocked to give the illusion that it’s moving really quickly”. While this may sound too ‘low-key’ for Lin and his style, consider that this tactic was first developed on the set of ‘The Road Warrior’ by Miller, where quite a few shots from his chase sequences were from completely stationary vehicles. And that movie, without question, has some of the best chases of all time.
Wan finishes up by remembering how he used this treatment on the set of ‘Saw’, in a chase sequence featuring Danny Glover: “The whole thing was just me rocking the car and shaking the camera to make it look like Danny Glover was driving really fast”, he laughs, before signing off with…“Yeah! That’s what I’m doing in Fast Seven!”. While probably joking about resorting to such methods for Fast Seven, one thing is clear: Wan is a better director than Justin Lin. For reference, his shoot out/action sequences in ‘Death Sentence’ are by far and away more skilfull than anything Lin has ever put to screen. They’re exciting, coherent and adrenaline pumping – but crucially all within reason. Lin doesn’t know when to say “Cut”, cars and men fly around like toys thrown from a catapult.
So, bottom line is, people who genuinely like cars and good chase sequences like to appreciate the degree a carr can be pushed to, to be able to emphasize with the dangers and the thrill of speed. The audience that Lin accrued don’t give a damn about any of that, they resent it even. That’s why cars appeared less in Fast 6 than any previous ‘Fast’ movie. James Wan, director of the gritty ‘Saw’ might just be what the doctor ordered for this series. More French Connection, less Power Rangers. The final ingredient – a sullen and vengeful Jason Statham out for blood – could just make it all the better. Someone needs to man up the bloated cookie cutter cast, right?