Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for F9.#JusticeForHan isn’t just a fun hashtag to buzz up publicity around a popular film franchise. For fans (family (fan-mily?)) of the Fast and Furious franchise, this rallying cry represents a need for course correction, for an acknowledgment of betrayal, for, well, you get what “justice” is. Han (Sung Kang), introduced in Tokyo Drift by director Justin Lin, quickly became a fan favorite, appearing in multiple films thereafter — despite his death in Tokyo Drift. To explain his ability to keep popping up, some timeline shenanigans took place.
And then, it was revealed that Han’s death was no mere car accident. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) was shown to be responsible for the explosive crash, giving the family huge emotional stakes for stopping this madman who killed their brother. And then… Shaw was sorta welcomed into the family himself? He became an ally? He got his own spinoff in Hobbes and Shaw?!
Why on earth would a series so obsessed with the loving bonds of found families betray one of its central members so callously? Why would we give #RedemptionForShaw, a murderer, instead of #JusticeForHan, a snack-loving hero? In bringing Han back for F9 (using a series of further retcons and plot shenanigans), Lin isn’t exactly interested in exploring this arc.
Until the mid-credit stinger.
Showing up for the first time in the picture, Shaw pummels the heck out of a boxing bag in some kind of grimy warehouse, where I assume he stands motionless in the dark until someone needs him to pummel the heck out of something. Surprise comes, though, when he opens up this boxing bag to reveal a hapless goon inside. Shaw, it seems, has not mellowed out since his face turn, giving that he hangs people up in a bag and punches them mercilessly. But the goon tries to beg for mercy regardless, even offering a MacGuffin flash drive in exchange for relief. Shaw simply shows the goon he already possesses the MacGuffin flash drive (what could be on it?), zips the bag back up, and continues to punch him. What a friggin’ sadist!
But then, a knock at the door, obviously coming as a surprise to Shaw, whose human gym is clearly not a public facility on Yelp. When he opens it, he sees Han, the man he thought he killed so many films ago. His face widens in shock, Han’s face narrows in purpose, and we hard cut to the rest of the credits.
If this is where Fast 10 starts, I’m all in. My guess is that Lin won’t be crafting a hard-edged revenge thriller where Han annihilates the heck out of Shaw (though I’m not saying I don’t want that). The series loves to honor continuity as much as possible, and while some of the continuity did turn fans off (and pissed Vin Diesel off to the point that one of the franchise’s, and the world’s, biggest stars left), it would be unfair to toss it aside. Thus, both Shaw’s eventual slide into acceptance and anti/heroism will likely be brought into consideration, coupled with the “Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) actually faked Han’s death to protect a young woman (Anna Sawai) who’s a key to a world-implicating MacGuffin” of it all (is that what’s on Shaw’s flash drive?).
But a duel of these fates certainly seems afoot. And it certainly seems as though F9 was merely the tip of the #JusticeForHan iceberg. Bringing back someone from the dead is one thing. To bring him at the foot of the door of his murderer — his “murderer” — is something entirely different, and entirely stranger. I can’t wait to see where Fast 10 takes it.
Joe Johnston’s jet-pack adventure plays like the greatest standalone MCU movie ever made.
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