Masala: ‘F9’ Director Justin Lin Drives Home the Franchise’s Theme of “Familia”

Director Justin Lin has built a career on telling character-driven stories no matter the scope, whether that’s through the indie-darling “Better Luck Tomorrow” or the multi-billion dollar “Fast & Furious” franchise. 

Lin is best known for his work in the “Fast & Furious” movies and for executive producing HBO Max’s “Warrior” alongside Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee. He returns with “F9,” directing, co-writing and co-producing the latest installment in “The Fast Saga” that follows Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and his crew on an action-packed mission to save the world. 

Lin’s involvement in the series was expanded from his initial stint working on “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” after having a conversation with Diesel about the mythology behind the characters and how they would develop over time if given the chance. “Back then a sequel was not a given. And [we were] talking about that if we were lucky enough to earn a sequel what would that mean?” he explained, thinking back to the conversation they had 15 years ago. “Let’s really try to take advantage of [the sequels] and really make sure that our characters are evolving and growing and aging.” 

After the sixth movie in the franchise wrapped, Lin took a step back and worked on other projects but executives and fans alike were eager to have him back. “It wasn’t until the idea of further exploring this theme of family, but through blood, … that led me back in,” he revealed about his return. “If we’re going to explore this, there’s an opportunity for us to really go back to the origin of this Toretto mythology and solidify it for the future.” 

What makes Lin’s storytelling compelling is his character-driven approach that was fostered from his independent filmmaking mindset. “When I made ‘Tokyo Drift’ I made it like an indie movie and that became the process,” he said, further advising aspiring creatives. “You have to stick to why you make things … have a point of view and make sure that you fight for accountability. It would suck if I went home and I’m sitting there going ‘Aw man, they made me do this, they made me do that.’ It makes you realize if you weren’t 100% in then you shouldn’t be fighting for it.”  

Watch the full interview above to hear more of what Lin has to say and check out “F9” in theaters on June 25.