Enter...James Wan?

Enter…James Wan?

The other day we were graced with a three name list of contenders to replace Justin Lin as the director of the seventh (and supposedly final*) Fast & Furious film.  For those who haven’t caught up yet, Universal is pleased as punch with Fast & Furious 6**, which hits theaters nationwide next month.  So much so that they seemingly regret their torpedoing of the initial idea to shoot the sixth and seventh entries in this fuel-injected film series simultaneously.  You see, they originally hired series vet Chris Morgan to write both scripts back-to-back with the intention of shooting them the same way.  Financially concerned heads eventually prevailed, but it is clear that at least an outline (if not a completed script) is already in place for the next entry.  Lin (who has directed 4 of the existing 6 films) originally planned to return for the next one, but has bowed out now that Uni has made it clear that they want production to begin ASAP for a 2014 release.  Lin wants a break and who can really blame him?  He’ll probably take a producer credit and just move on to one of the countless other projects he is currently attached to direct.

While nothing was really wrong with them, I found none of the choices we were given the other day to be particularly inspiring.  Not terrible choices; just lazy ones.  Give me someone interesting!  Well, it looks like they just might do that after all.  Deadline is reporting that James Wan (Saw, Insidious) is now the frontrunner for the project.  Do I detect a confused twitch?  I thought so.  While Wan burst onto the scene with Saw about a decade ago, he stumbled a bit as a director for his two follow-ups; at least in terms of commercial success.  Dead Silence was a film compromised from pre-production onward and the result was lackluster overall.  The revenge thriller Death Sentence, his first break from horror, fared far better in terms of quality, but failed to set the box office alight.  Afterwards Wan dropped off the grid as a director for a few years, though he continued to produce (or at least cash checks from) the Saw franchise.  His 2010 spooktacular, Insidious, was a big commercial success for its pricetag and has essentially rebooted his career.  The man has been busy ever since and has not one, but TWO supernatural horror efforts hitting later this year:  The Conjuring (July) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (October).

Beyond his recent success, he is also already attached to direct the theatrical MacGuyver reboot, so flirting with the action genre is nothing new for Mr. Wan.  Some are saying that he doesn’t have the chops for either film, but I disagree.  Wan works well with actors.  His last two efforts (particularly the aforementioned Death Sentence) have proven that and I suspect his two 2013 films will continue this.  He also has a pretty good handle on building tension and offering a payoff.  That, I think, is a good qualifier for the gig.  As for the big action set pieces?  That’s what second unit is for and the franchise already has a crackerjack team in that department.  What Fast & Furious 7 needs is someone who can makes the scenes BETWEEN the gonzo action work and looking at the choices we have been clear, Wan is the clear standout to me.  We’ve got a fun cast, a good BTS team, and a villain (if you want to know who, the info is out there) already in place for this project.  Now we just need a solid director.  Whoever it is will be boarding a ship that is already in motion and has a planned route.  In my opinion, Wan is the best choice.

Source | Deadline

* – Not counting the proposed Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) spin-off, of course.

** – Way to drop the ball on that title, people.  Seriously?  We get The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five…and then this bland title?  You are shaming the John J. Rambo tradition of confusingly titled sequels here!  It easily should have been Furious 6.  Here’s hoping this course is corrected for the next one.