Vin Diesel (California, 54 years old), recording in selfie format, announces to his Instagram followers the start of filming for Fast Xtenth installment of Fast&Furious, scheduled for release in May 2023. He is accompanied, seated to his left, by an uncomfortable Justin Lin, director of most of the franchise’s films, who diligently answers the questions that the star fires at him: “What do you think, Justin? ?”; “What sensations do you have?”; “Could we be facing the best of the saga?” “From the heart, yes,” Lin manages to reply, whose facial expressions and eye movements suggest otherwise.
The video, published on April 22 and still visible on Diesel’s account, already aroused comments and laughter at the time of its appearance due to the atmosphere of captivity that seemed to be created in the brief dialogue between the Taiwanese filmmaker and the actor, whose size it is true that it can make anyone feel kidnapped. Jokes that grew when, just four days later, Justin Lin posted another statement on his Instagram profile informing him of his decision to leave the shoot.
Lin’s departure, now officially replaced by Louis Leterrier (director versed in action films, responsible for The incredible Hulk or the first two deliveries of transporter), took the many followers of the saga by surprise: he is the author of five of the previous nine films and, under his baton, Fast&Furious had achieved something as unimaginable years before as the respect of critics (the strange case of a franchise that begins to be applauded and valued in the fifth episode, with an imposing and unprecedented 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), in addition to extending its life away from the years of splendor of the tuning. Internal filming sources leaked that the director had had “creative differences” with Vin Diesel, who is, like him, a producer of the tenth installment. According to the story given by The Hollywood ReporterDiesel, despite the fact that filming had already started, presented a series of annotations to the script (written by Lin himself, which premiered in this area in the ninth) and the disagreement escalated to the point that the director slammed the door and stated, “This movie doesn’t deserve to end my sanity.”
In the investigation of The Hollywood Reporter, workers from other installments of the franchise spoke of the important role, strong creative control and frequent changes on the fly in the opinion of Diesel: “The whole process of shooting is like a mosaic that does not stop moving”, declared one of the sources. , in addition to recognizing that the writing and design of the action scenes were also under the supervision of the actor, who has been playing the great hero of the saga, Dominic Toretto, for 21 years. But other information from within the shooting, which was echoed New YorkDaily Newspointed out that the alleged “creative differences” could have been for Lin only the straw that broke the camel’s back, and that Vin Diesel would have been reconciling his perfectionism and demands with being repeatedly late for filming, not knowing the script and appearing in very low state of form
Diesel, in fact, had already had to go out in recent years in the face of detractors who disfigured an oversight in his physique: “I have had the best body in New York City for decades,” he replied in an interview with the medium Complex in 2015. In xXx: Reactivated (2017), the third installment of one of the titles on which he built his fame, a Steven Seagal drift was noted in the staging of the fights, which seemed to have as a great priority to cover up Diesel’s army of doubles. And his alleged professionalism problems had already caused him to collide in Fast&Furious with another partner, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, antagonistic in his work ethic (the actor and fighter gets up every day at 3:30 in the morning to go to the gym).
“Some colleagues are true professionals, but others are not. (…) When you see the movie, if it seems to you that in some scenes I am not acting and my blood really boils, you will be right, ”Johnson wrote in an incendiary Instagram post prior to the premiere of Fast & Furious 8 (2017) today already deleted. As confirmed later, he was talking about Diesel, with whom he shared a single shot in the film as a result of, according to him, an “important face-to-face”, in addition to the fact that the successive delays or cancellations of filming at the whim of the protagonist unnerved The Rock.
It was not the only controversy between Johnson and Diesel around that production: the second also ordered to remove from the montage a dialogue between his partner and Jason Statham that served as an advertisement for the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw (2019), a solo film of his characters that did not have the approval of the star. rock did not return in the ninth installment, but Vin Diesel, however, has tried to smooth things over since then so that he returns in Fast X, unsuccessfully. Last summer, he justified in indiewire his behavior with Johnson explaining that it was a technique to extract a better interpretation from him: “I would not say that it is something fellinian, but I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to get good performances in movies that I produce.” His counterpart responded shortly after to The Hollywood Reporter claiming to have laughed a lot with those statements, categorically ruling out returning to the saga and showing its impact by the use of a term like fellinian.
Reconciliation attempts ended up in discussion again when, in November, Diesel publicly asked on Instagram (definitely the reference network for the team of Fast&Furious) the return of The Rock, through a post where he referred to his former colleague as “little brother”, assured that his children called him “Uncle Dwayne” and invoked a promise to the late Paul Walker, co-star of the franchise until his accident in 2013. Offended, Johnson insisted on CNN that he would not return and called Diesel a “manipulator” for involving Walker and their children.
The weight of ambition
“Vin Diesel has been able to be very belligerent on the sets and his ego has brought various headaches and schisms, but surely he has also protected the integrity of the saga in the offices when he played”, says the critic Daniel de Partearroyo, who has followed closely the saga from its beginnings. For Partearroyo, when Vin Diesel returned in the fourth installment of Fast&Furious as a leading actor and producer (after his absence in the second and a small cameo at the end of the third), he adopted “as a personal mission to push the saga to the highest levels of the block buster”. The success of his company is hard to debate: Fast&Furious is the highest-grossing saga of Universal Pictures in all history, above Jurassic Parkwith a total collection of more than 6,000 million dollars worldwide.
At the same time that Fast&FuriousDiesel has tried to keep active the other two great sagas for which he is known (excluding his work as a voice actor for Groot, who only says three words, in the movies of Guardians of the Galaxy): xXx Y riddick, both with fourth installments announced. In recent years, however, Diesel’s adventures outside of those titles have not gone well at all, despite the fact that, in the beginning, the actor’s talent caught the attention of Steven Spielberg, who gave him a small role in Saving Private Ryan (1998), or Sidney Lumet, the historic director of twelve merciless men either dog afternoonwhich put him in charge of find me guilty (2006) after mobster Jack DiNorscio saw The Fast and the Furious (At full throttle) and insisted that he be the one to interpret it, in one of the most surprising and recognized performances of his career.
Likewise, there was also a time when Diesel did get excellent opinions from his peers: in his biography Anatomy of a wild heart (Ed. Applehead, 2021), Asia Argento, who acted in the first installment of xXx (2002), spoke of the action star as a great friend and blamed him for having pressured the big studios to stop working with Rob Cohen (director of said film and, previously, of the first At full throttle) after she told him in confidence that she had been drugged and raped by him on that set, and years before many other accusations of sexual abuse by Cohen came to light, including his own daughter.
On whether an artistic demotivation could have caused a certain apathy in Diesel’s professionalism, Daniel de Partearroyo believes that “in his case there is something of a reflection of the entropy of sagas and IP [propiedad intelectual] in which Hollywood has been immersed for the last two decades”. “Fast&Furious It is the only viable saga that he has and that pressure can lead him to make more visceral decisions as well as dismissive ones”, he considers. For the critic, however, the absence of Justin Lin in Fast X (announced as the first part of a joint epilogue with Fast & Furious 11, presumably the final episode) is “heartbreaking” news: “He has been the great architect of the saga as we know it. It was he who injected personality, formal robustness in the action and sympathy towards the characters. He liked his vision of the material so much that he resurrected the main saga starting from an appendix! ”, He recalls, referring to the incorporation of the director in Full Throttle: Tokyo Race (2006), a third installment independent of the previous ones, which ended up being integrated into the canon a posteriori by means of an adjustment in the timeline of the narration.
Multiple speculations have been poured into what could have been the “creative differences” capable of dissolving the long and prosperous alliance between Lin and Diesel, who, together, have shot already iconic sequences of contemporary action cinema, such as the escape and chase with a safe dragged through the streets of Rio de Janeiro in Fast & Furious 5climbing with tanks and military planes from Fast & Furious 6 or the decline close to the catastrophe cinema of the ninth film through the magnetization of cars. A plot of time travel (hypothesis originating from the literal interpretation of some statements by Diesel, who spoke of taking the saga back to where it all began) or a crossover with the dinosaurs Jurassic Park, as a corporate synergy, have been some of the most rumored suggestions in the context of a saga where nothing is ever completely unlikely, especially after two of the characters traveled to space in the previous installment. Doubts about his plot, about the contributions that Louis Leterrier can make to the front or about how hard Diesel will hit without his main ally will be completely cleared up next year with the premiere of Fast X… if no more unforeseen events occur.
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