I know. The Fast & Furious series has no presence in Orlando (yet) other than prop cars displayed at Universal Studios Florida. However, I don’t think anyone can deny that these non-stop, adrenaline-filled thrill rides lend themselves quite well to the theme park setting. With Fast & Furious: Supercharged set to open on the Universal Studios Hollywood tram tour this year, many people, including yours truly, expect the franchise to make its presence known in Orlando soon.
When it comes to the Fast & Furious films, there are two types of audiences. There are people who like to just nitpick and take these moves way too seriously. Then there are moviegoers, such as myself, who let their guard down and enjoy the films for what they are: over the top action and comedy flicks, with characters who show an amazing sense of camaraderie amongst each other. I can still remember going to see the original film back in the summer of 2001. I was 12 years old and I absolutely loved it. Here I am, 26 now, and still going to the theater to see these magnificent tributes to chaos. An entire generation grew up with these films. I don’t think anyone left the theater in 2001 expecting to see a seventh installment of this series 14 years later, but alas, here we are.
Much like anything in life, things change. The series has truly evolved over the past 5 years. Hats off to Justin Lin for his wonderful directorial run from the third film The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift to Fast & Furious 6. Lin did an absolutely incredible job taking over this universe and creating some seriously special storytelling. Fast Five particularly set a new precedent in the franchise and, not only have they taken the ball, but they have really run with it. This is most obvious with Furious 7. For the latest chapter, James Wan was at the helm. People know Wan for directing horror films like Saw and The Conjuring. I was a bit skeptical about this choice for director, but Wan did a fine job taking over the reins.
Unlike the previous films, this one seems more of a “spy” movie than a race or heist movie. The introduction of Kurt Russell as “Mr. Nobody” is an invigorating factor, and his involvement could definitely lead to new plots for future installments. Jason Statham commands your attention every time he’s on screen as Deckard Shaw. He was less character and more Terminator than anything. Hell-bent on revenge, Shaw poses a threat that truly questions Dom and the gang’s ability to take him down. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in his usage, as well as Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs. Though, one thing that certainly does not disappoint in this film is the action.
If you’ve seen the commercials, you can tell that Furious 7 takes what the last two films have done and goes even further. From a car jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper in Abu Dhabi, to an amazing chase through the mountains including CARS PARACHUTING OUT A PLANE… it’s delightful. I applaud the people who made the trailers for this movie, as the final action sequence is hardly spoiled compared to previous films. Looking at you specifically, Fast & Furious 6.
And then there’s the big elephant in the room. As everyone surely knows, during the filming of Furious 7, Paul Walker tragically passed away in a car accident. After the initial grieving, I couldn’t help but wonder just how this would affect the film and its outcome. I must take my hat off once again to the crew behind the film, because it was handled with tremendous beauty and grace. Fans of the franchise loved Brian O’Conner. To see him get his true ride into the sunset is just, well… let’s just say it gets dusty in a lot of movie theaters around the country.
So, how could this affect Universal Orlando Resort? As seen with Despicable Me, they have no problem striking while a property is hot. Furious 7 has reportedly taken around 150 million dollars in the U.S. market and almost 400 million dollars world-wide just during opening weekend. This is a mind-blowing amount of money, considering most films that get to that mark are either offered in 3D or they’re Twilight. Now, looking at the parks, and based on the technology that Hollywood will see for Supercharged, Disaster! seems like an obvious choice for replacement. With Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson and Michelle Rodriguez all filming bits for the attraction, there’s no way it was created only for a tram tour addition. It’d be nice to see it get the Kong treatment and have it made into a full-fledged attraction experience… but will that happen?
The future holds many questions for both the films and the influence they’ll have on Universal Orlando. For now, all we can do is take these films, enjoy them for what they are, and hug our loved ones a little bit tighter after seeing the heartfelt tribute to Paul Walker. Ride or die.