Yes, the 'F9' Filmmakers Actually Went to NASA for Help on That Final Action Scene
Spoilers (the non-vehicular kind, at least) for F9 ahead.
It wouldn’t be (much of) an exaggeration to claim that F9 boldly goes where no one has gone before… at least as far as the Fast & Furious franchise is concerned. In the very capable hands of series pro Justin Lin, the latest installment of the family saga gleefully satisfies a number of fan expectations — not to mention incessant teases on the cast’s part — steadily building over the years. With the sole exception of #JusticeForHan, perhaps none proved to be more thrilling than getting to watch some of the crew finally make it to space. During an interview with Vulture, Lin and his creative team spill all the details on how this groundbreaking, historic, and dare I say miraculous feat of cinema came to be.
Laughing In The Face Of Logic
As it turns out, nothing about this space-bound third act sequence was taken lightly. While the F&F movies tend to operate under their own fantasy logic altogether, Justin Lin consulted no less an authority than literal rocket scientists to figure out just how feasible an undertaking like this might be in the real world. Audiences may have snickered derisively at the very concept, but perhaps this wasn’t quite as outlandish as some may have assumed. As Lin himself puts it:
“Going to space was not something I took for granted or I was very flippant about. It is something that I did have a lot of conversations about. A lot of conversations. And it went from rocket scientists laughing, going, ‘What the fuck?’ to us saying, ‘Well, can this really happen? If other rocket scientists have to get up there and the capsules are coated with these polymers? Blah blah blah.’ This is something that was thought out. If anything — logistically, scientifically — it’s one of the most sound action set pieces in our franchise.”
Regular Lin collaborator and F9 executive producer Josh Henson also chimes in, further explaining the genesis of this idea.
“Kind of as a joke, [visual effects supervisor Alexander Vegh and I] put together a pitch that looks like, ‘Okay, Dom and the gang go to the moon, and they race cars; they’re racing cool rovers on the moon and Dom wrecks his rover. And the bad guy’s about to get away, but he’s just at the Apollo 11 site. And he finds the original moon rover, and he’s racing,’” recalls Henson. “We kind of did it as a joke, and we pitched it to Justin, and we had a good laugh. But then Justin’s like, ‘Well, maybe there’s something there.’”
Vegh goes on to succinctly outline the true appeal at the heart of this franchise and the increasingly wackier stunts the filmmakers can’t help but include. “What’s the big crazy thing that’s going to happen? What’s that thing that we all have to tap our inner 6-year-old to make blow up?” I don’t know about you, but I for one can’t resist indulging my inner 6-year-old from time to time and these movies continue to be the perfect outlet to do so.
Benefit of the Doubt
Vulture astutely takes note of one particular scene early in F9 during their conversation with Lin, in which Roman (Tyrese Gibson) amusingly verbalizes one of the franchise’s previously unspoken rules. In pondering just how he and the gang keep facing life-threatening situations and getting out of them with nary a scratch, Roman goes full existential crisis on us and — in the process — Lin tips his hand to audiences that he is, in fact, aware of how ridiculous this all is.
“Look, we’re 20 years in. For the self-awareness, I felt like it was appropriate … to be able to have the character articulate that. Personally, I love it. We wanted to acknowledge that for the first time. To say, ‘Hey, let’s be very conscious of it.’ Twenty years in, this is the time to let the audience know, ‘Hey, you guys have definitely been a part of this.’”
Personally, I love how Lin articulates this. Too often, fans of any given franchise can fall prey to the misguided thinking that we’re completely above what we’re watching and that we alone have the sophistication to realize just how absurd movies can be (see: the recent social media meltdown over a knowingly-silly clip from the opening scene of Cruella). Sometimes, we need a reminder that we’re allowed to give filmmakers the benefit of the doubt and perhaps wait to see how events unfold in the actual movie before jumping to conclusions.
What I’m saying is, I’m already buckling my seatbelt to sit in a theater with wide-eyed wonder as the concluding installments of the F&F saga deal with thwarting a supervillain trying to inevitably blow up the sun or something.
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