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Fast and Furious 9 trailer breakdown: director Justin Lin talks flying cars, John Cena, and Han's return

Fast and Furious 9’s history of delays, including twice shifting back in the schedules thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, is now firmly in the rear-view mirror. The arrival of a new F9 trailer marks the moment where the franchise is putting its foot down and going full speed ahead as it hurtles towards the final stretch of the Fast and Furious saga.

As you might have expected after watching the trailer, there is plenty to discuss. Not least of which the introduction of flying cars, rocket cars, and cars with magnets. The series, then, has come a long way from its street racing days in the likes of Tokyo Drift. On that note, Tokyo Drift’s Han (Sung Kang) is back and we're eager to see how his comeback factors into the war of words – and wheels – between Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto and his newly-introduced brother, Jakob (John Cena).

GamesRadar+ had the chance to sit down with director Justin Lin – helming his fifth movie in the franchise and first since 2013’s Fast and Furious 6 – to go over all the major talking points surrounding the latest F9 trailer. No pink slips necessary here: let’s get behind the wheel with the man who makes Fast 9 so fantastically furious.

Flying cars

Fast and Furious 9

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

While there has certainly been talk of Fast and Furious heading into space, we’re not quite there yet. But the elastic band logic of the series continues to stretch in spectacular fashion. John Cena’s Jakob is seen commandeering a flying car in one scene, while a rocket-propelled car makes an appearance towards the end of the F9 trailer.

For Lin, it’s been in the works for a long time, with the director just waiting for the right time to go all-in on the concept. 

"This was one of them that’s been floating around for us and for me. I always have this rule: if we were going to do something crazy, we’d have to earn it," he says. "I was working on this particular emotional thread with the characters and I remember working on it and thinking ‘Oh, I think this is the one.’"

Lin, though, isn’t pulling out random set-pieces for shock value. The flying cars (and rocket cars) are in service of the larger story. "That’s always been our philosophy: we don’t do it just to shock people or just to do it," Lin explains. "When you see the film, you’re going to see there’s a specific reason for it. I’m really excited that it’s finally found its place."

John Cena joins the Fast crew

Fast and Furious 9

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Fast and Furious, as you should know by now, is all about the f-word: family. That struggle between blood relatives is one that is going to bubble to the surface in F9 with the arrival of John Cena’s Jakob Toretto.

The trailer sees Jakob proving to be more the match for Vin Diesel’s Dom – a rarity in the series – and even pulls a gun on him in one climactic tussle. But Jakob, seemingly being ordered by series Big Bad Cipher (Charlize Theron) to do her dirty work, may hesitate when it comes to pulling the trigger.

It’s a dynamic that Lin is keen to explore – but was initially worried about who could stand across from Dom. "For me, when the idea of exploring through blood – siblings – my next thought in my head was ‘holy crap, who’s going to carry this out?’" he reveals.

Cena, though, proved to be the perfect fit: "When I met John, I think within 30 seconds I felt like: ‘Oh man, I’m so lucky’ because talking to him right away, he understands. He has brothers, I have brothers. I think that the understanding of when it comes to blood, fights are a thousand times more intense [and] a thousand times more meaningful."

Interestingly, Lin says that the "addition to our… family" comes in F9, but there’s also room "to keep exploring the character".

Han’s return

Han returns in F9.

(Image credit: Universal)

As a filmmaker, I want to always hold everything back. I never want them to show anything in the trailers!

Justin Lin

We already knew Han was coming back thanks to last year’s debut trailer. The last time (chronologically) he showed up was seemingly being killed off by Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw – and now he’s getting seriously involved in the action, not only saving Letty in Tokyo but also sending one of Cipher’s goons on a magnet-shaped trip to the grave.

If Lin had his way, though, the surprise of Han’s return might have been held back until we sat down and watched it in theaters.

"As a filmmaker, I want to always hold everything back. I never want them to show anything in the trailers!" Lin jokes. "There were some really good discussions [on showing Han in the trailers]. Ultimately, it was the right thing to do."

But don’t worry. Those wary of having every major story beat spoiled in trailers can rest easy. That’s not the case with Fast 9, as Lin says. "I can confidently say there’s a lot in the film not being showcased," the director teases.

Magnets: how do they work?

Fast and Furious 9

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

One of the biggest, and most complex, set-pieces in Fast and Furious history is tucked away within the latest trailer. The gang are seen making use of magnets and, specifically, a car loaded with magnets that pushes and pulls everything in its path in kinetic, city-razing fashion. That even includes a practical stunt sending an entire vehicle crashing through a building and out the other side.

As you can imagine, putting all that together is not easy. Lin even reveals that he had a set of "magnet rules" to ensure everything happened as realistically as possible. The main roadblock for Lin and his team was keeping everything in time on the screen, as he explains: "I think having the magnets in there, it really added to the layer of challenge. A lot of times we had to synchronize everything."

Lin, however, had faith in his best-in-class crew, including the stunt drivers, to deliver. "I know I’m working with the best crew in the world so it was a little bit like, ‘Let me come up with something crazy and just stand over here!’"

F9 has some of Vin Diesel’s "best work" – and will answer major fan questions

Fast and Furious 9

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

One moment in the Fast 9 trailer may concern long-time fans of the series: Dom is seen sinking into the abyss while a panicked Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) looks on. It’s not just the watery depths that Vin Diesel will be plumbing – he’s also going to tap into the emotional depths of his character too.

"I’m so proud of Vin," Lin says of his lead’s performance. "He’s taken Dom emotionally to places that I’ve never seen before. I think it’s some of his best work."

That peril does much to heighten the fact that, after F9, there are only two more Fast movies until the saga comes to a close.

Previewing the June release, Lin said: "It brings a lot of characters that had existed and still exist in our universe that you haven’t seen in a while. It’s very exciting. By doing that, you’re answering a lot of questions the fans might have after all these years."

Lin continues: "I always like to say, if you have the eight [Fast and Furious] movies and [F9] is the one you take and put on top and it runs all the way through."

Fast and Furious 9, starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena, Sung Kang, Tyreese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Helen Mirren is out June 25 in the US and July 8 in the UK. In the meantime, be sure to check out the best Netflix movies streaming right now.

GamesRadar+'s Entertainment Writer. Lover of all things Nintendo, in a tortured love/hate relationship with Crystal Palace, and also possesses an unhealthy knowledge of The Simpsons (which is of no use at parties).