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Fast & Furious director Justin Lin: F9 is the most challenging movie by far

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The latest Fast & Furious 9 (also known as F9) trailer showed us the most insane vehicular action sequence yet in the series — Dom (Vin Diesel) drifting in mid-air around a cliff, using nothing more than a cable to anchor him to solid ground. The sequence took over a year to conceptualise and produce, director Justin Lin shared in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Lifestyle SEA.

Vin Diesel takes notes from director Justin Lin in Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)
Vin Diesel takes notes from director Justin Lin in Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)

“A lot of times when you see something that goes by for a second or two, it usually takes many months of production meetings and making sure we do everything right,” said Lin about the hard work that went behind that scene. It takes about 8 to 14 months to go from idea to execution for such sequences. “But I’m very fortunate that I work with the best crew in the world to come up with these crazy ideas and for it to come to life,” said the 49-year old.

A car chase sequence with helicopters in Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)
A car chase sequence with helicopters in Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)

Fast & Furious 9 is the upcoming entry in the Fast & Furious franchise, dropping in Singapore theatres next month. It sees the team going up against Dom’s younger brother, Jakob Toretto (John Cena), who has allied himself with their old nemesis Cipher (Charlize Theron). Other stars reprise their roles in the series: Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Jordana Brewster, and Helen Mirren.

A car swings off a cliff in Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)
A car swings off a cliff in Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)

“Not only are we introducing a new character in Jakob Toretto,” said Lin of the upcoming film, “but we’re also reconnecting a lot of other characters from previous chapters, and so it was appropriate to always make sure that we push it to levels that we’ve never gone before.”

Director of photography Stephen F. Windon and director Justin Lin work on Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)
Director of photography Stephen F. Windon and director Justin Lin work on Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)

Like many of the cast members, Lin is a veteran of the series, having been the director for the Fast & Furious series since the third film, The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift. But this ninth instalment trumps all the previous films in terms of complexity. “Logistically, this is the most challenging [Fast & Furious] movie by far. The appetite for this, the ambition for this film, I felt we had to set the bar a lot higher,” he said. But Lin was also very grateful for his crew, expressing his appreciation for them. “What’s great about this crew is that when you set the bar higher, everybody rises up to meet it.”

So what are Lin’s favourite action sequences in the Fast & Furious franchise? “I loved the vault sequence and train sequence in Fast Five, and the flip car in Fast & Furious 6,” said Lin. “We didn’t think [the flip car mechanism] was actually going to flip it, but when we tried it, it actually flipped the car for real. I think these are the happy accidents in the franchise that I love.”

Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Dom (Vin Diesel) in Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)
Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Dom (Vin Diesel) in Fast & Furious 9. (United International Pictures)

Even though Lin is no stranger when it comes to developing such action set pieces, it might surprise audiences to know that being an action director wasn’t always his ambition. “I didn’t grow up thinking I was going to be an action director. It wasn’t a dream of mine. It was just something that I really fell in love with when I was making films,” he revealed.

And for Lin, what he’s most proud of is the movie-making journey, from idea to execution.

“The pride is in the process.”

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