Few film franchises have shown a willingness to change and evolve with the times quite like the Fast and Furious series. Starting as a spiritual successor to Point Break in 2001, the franchise has grown from a grounded and gritty street-level crime thriller in The Fast and the Furious to a global espionage blockbuster franchise in 2017's The Fate of the Furious. It's a change that has not gone unnoticed by original Fast and Furious director Rob Cohen, and the filmmaker recently opened up in an interview and explained that he's just happy to see original characters remain at the heart of the enhanced spectacle. Per Cohen:
The franchise went from a Los Angeles story built around a family of multicultural brothers and sisters to what I'll call 'pure spectacle.' The beauty is that the audience has ridden along with it for these 18 years. I'm very proud that the characters I created in 2001 are still in the lexicon. There's still a Dominic Toretto appearing every two years, or a Mia Toretto, or a Letty. It had to evolve, and it evolved in a way that was ultra-worldwide commercial. And the heartbeat of it is: We live in a world with no gravity, cars can do anything. They can burst out of the nose of airplanes. People can jump across freeways. They can take down helicopters. It's like, 'Okay, anything for the spectacle.' They spend $350 million on these movies, so they've got the money to pull this stuff off. And the audience is eating it up. The last one still did $1.25 billion. For my kids' college fund, I'm very happy that it's had this longevity.
The Fast and Furious franchise has evolved quite a bit over the course of the last 18 years, and Rob Cohen has picked up on the shift. While The Fast and the Furious told a relatively small-scale story about a group of Los Angeles crooks trying to steal home electronics, the series has gradually shifted to a much larger scale (something that really kicked into high-gear with Fast Five) and turned into something in the vein of a spy thriller series. It's not what Rob Cohen created, but he seems happy enough to see the characters persist in the zeitgeist and maintain the level of longevity they have.
Of course, despite all of the changes, it seems that Rob Cohen remains particularly proud of the film he directed. In fact, the filmmaker admitted in his conversation with Screen Crush that fans still regularly see his film as the best of the series. Cohen also said:
I started out to do a different thing, but the thing that I did implanted this world and these characters deeply in that audience. And they're still coming for a hit of it. And most of the time when you go on the internet and [read] 'Which was the best Fast & Furious?' It's almost always mine.
Now it's a matter of watching to see where the Fast and Furious franchise can go from here. The Fate of the Furious arguably blew the lid off of any remaining semblance of realism (cars take down a submarine, and The Rock simply shrugs off rubber bullets in the prison fight), so the series will either continue on that trajectory or scale things back down to something closer to Rob Cohen's vision. We will have to wait until 2019 when the next installment under the Fast and Furious banner debuts to know for sure.
As far as the future of the Fast and Furious franchise goes, you can catch the Hobbs/Shaw spinoff movie in theaters on July 29, 2019, while Fast Nine will debut in theaters April 10, 2020, and Fast Ten will premiere on April 2, 2021. For now, you can catch Rob Cohen's latest high-octane outing when The Hurricane Heist premieres in theaters this weekend on March 9.