Fast 9, the latest entry in the most improbable franchise in cinema, is currently filming in the UK. Vin Diesel took to Instagram to drop some casting news, confirming that Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren are returning for this installment. Theron was the villain in F8te of the Furious—still mad that isn’t the actual title—and Mirren plays Magdalene Shaw, mother of Deckard (aka Jason Statham). These are enormously talented women, celebrated actresses, both with proven action chops, and they spend most of their time in these movies sitting down. Will they be standing up this time? Or will they continue to be super-glued to a seat?
Also in Fast 9 is franchise newcomer John Cena. This feels like a direct slap at Dwayne Johnson, who, along with Jason Statham, departed for a spin-off in Hobbs & Shaw. We all know about the boy sh-t that went down on the last Fast/Furious movie. We know there is no love lost between Johnson and Diesel. And with his own spin-off now, Johnson won’t be returning to Fast 9 (despite earlier reports that he signed on). His vacancy is being filled by Cena, a fellow pro-wrestler and someone who once criticized Johnson for trading in wrestling for Hollywood. (Cena later apologized as his own Hollywood career started to take off.) Coincidence or conspiracy? Frankly, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Johnson has been replaced by someone with whom he had “real issues”, or that they’ve replaced one wrestler with another, as if to say, wrestlers with Hollywood cred are not special, Johnson is not unique. The boy sh-t continues.
My question is, besides “will the women get to stand up this time?”, what happens if Hobbs & Shaw is a bigger hit than Fast 9? They’re both going to be huge movies, it’s only a matter of which one is more huge. What happens if the spin-off takes off? What does it do to the franchise, what will it mean for the boy sh-t? Will Diesel be happy just to get Johnson out of his house, even if it means Johnson ends up the winner in their box office arms race? Or will we see the boy sh-t reach new, unimagined heights of petty?