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Fast Saga vet Justin Lin on 'F9' extended cut, the franchise swan song, and odds of a 'Jurassic World' crossover
Universal's Fast Saga is about to ride off into the sunset with a pair of Avengers-style films that send the franchise off on the highest — and fastest — note possible. This oversized swan song couldn't have hoped for a better person behind the wheel than Justin Lin, a writer and filmmaker with the most consistent Fast & Furious track record of them all (he's directed five out of the nine installments in the main series).
With F9 now available on home video, SYFY WIRE caught up with Lin to discuss his extended director's cut, the two-part conclusion, and *fingers crossed* whether we'll ever see Dominic Toretto racing a T. rex.
***WARNING! The following contains certain spoilers for the film!***
Tell me a little bit about the F9 home release. What goodies can fans expect from it?
Well, we get to breathe a little bit more. The theatrical version [of F9] is the longest of the franchise. I think there's seven-and-a-half minutes more on this [director's] cut. I think the script was even longer. It felt like there were three different narratives that were gonna come together. It's 20 years in the making and I do think we made this film for the fans ... For me, it was six more films in and so, I also think with time, hopefully, people will even see more connections. Because this film, ultimately, is gonna be the connector to not only the other films, but also presentations to other pieces of this universe.
What can you tease about the footage we'll get to see in the extended cut?
I feel like a lot of times you have these extended cuts and you can't tell the difference. But this one, it's much longer. I think there are extra action sequences that I ended up removing [not] because I didn't like [them] — they were removed just for pacing. But also, there are scenes in there that give you a little bit more clarity in connection and I would say that years from now, when the fans are looking and wanting to experience [the saga], I would say that the extended cut is gonna present more. I think with time, you're gonna have more clarity and a lot of the connections [from] this extended cut.
Any secrets from production that you're now ready to share with the public?
[Laughs.] I don't know if there are any secrets. I hope that whether it's the theatrical or this version, the one thing that I could tell you [is] we care. I love these characters and if I had more time, the film probably would've been four hours long.
I think even talking about it with John Cena [with regards to] Jakob, there was a whole backstory and a whole journey that you don't really see on screen that he had to somehow embody. The hope is that you feel it and maybe one day, that narrative and that story will also come to life. A lot of those things, to me, are the spirit of F9 — whether it's Han or Elle or Jakob. Again, I feel like this is gonna be the intersection of a lot of different stories of this universe that, hopefully, will one day find its right medium to tell those stories.
I know Universal just locked in an April 2023 release date for the next installment. How far along are you on the final two films in the franchise?
I can tell you the [production] office is open. Look, I feel like it's a very special chapter. F9 is a set-up of reassessing and putting everything in order for our final chapter. That final chapter actually started in 2008. I remember talking to Paul [Walker] and Vin [Diesel] and it was just an exercise. It was not anything concrete back then. We were like, "God, if we're lucky enough, what would the final chapter be?" And so, I'm really trying to channel the spirit of those conversations and the tone of those conversations. Personally, it's emotional and hopefully, I can do it justice.
Speaking of emotions, you have that really poignant appearance from Brian O'Conner during the family BBQ at the end of F9. Is there a plan to carry that through in the next two movies?
I mean, Brian's part of the universe, and I'm constantly going through every character, going through every conversation I've had with Paul, with Vin, with everybody. It is one of those things where, as we're developing, we're trying to find the proper and respectful way to be able to present the final chapter of the saga.
Back in the spring, you were asked about the potential for a crossover between Fast & Furious and Jurassic World. You answered by saying you "never say never to anything." Now that the idea's gained a bunch of traction online, has it become more of a serious discussion with Universal?
[Laughs.] You know, I don't wanna distract, but I love that people get excited and everything. I definitely said that in jest, but I think that is the spirit of Fast. We don't ever say "no," but we talk through everything. I don't know ... I'm just focusing on our characters and our universe. It's something that I'm very proud to be back and I'm excited to be able to hopefully bring something that we've been talking about for 10 years to life.
F9 is now available on Digital, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD. In addition to the theatrical and director's cut versions of the film, the home release also includes a number of bonus features a gag reel, a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more.
Universal Pictures & SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal.