FAST & FURIOUS 9: Who is Jakob Toretto?

© 2021 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

The countdown begins! Warning – spoilers ahead!

WHERE THE STORY PICKS UP:

Vin Diesl’s Dom Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he’s going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom’s forsaken brother, Jakob (JOHN CENA, the upcoming The Suicide Squad).

© 2021 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

TWO SHOCKING THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO:

Director, Justin Lin, returns after an abscence in the most recent two films who was enticed back by Producer and Star, Vin Diesel with the premise of Chapter 9’s new direction which delves into the unexplored backstories of the franchise’s legacy characters, fatherhood, brotherhood and betrayal.

“Thematically, I felt we needed to make a film where the characters had to come to terms with their pasts so that they could have hope for the future.” said Lin.

This film promises to maintain it’s high octane action-packed sequences, while evolving with its audience who have journeyed with the crew these past two decades. The focus shifts to a more sedate life off the beaten path for its protagonist, Dom Toretto who now has a child, Brian, with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). One major surprise for fans, including the cast, is the introduction of Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Dom’s estraged brother, Jakob played by John Cena. The never before explored dynamic will resonate with many for Dom who strives to be a father in the truest sense, but will only be able to be achieve this by revisiting his past. The cast was blown away when finally getting their hands on the scripts with its bombshell revelations including, that of Han (Sung Kang) – still – being – ALIVE!

“The Toretto family has always been a mystery, so to have those pieces filled in after so many years is really interesting to me as an actress,” Jordana Brewster says. “It informs where Dom’s been coming from all these years, and then you understand, all the more, the importance of the makeshift family they’ve brought together. By adding the Jakob element, now we get to explore all that and try to reconcile the past and a possible future. Mia has a lot invested in the outcome as well, so she’s also very wary of how Dom handles the news.”

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JAKOB TORETTO:

© 2021 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

He is an adversary unlike any that Dom and his crew have faced in the history of the franchise. Jakob Toretto, played by film star and WWE superstar John Cena, is a peerless professional assassin, a high-performance driver as skilled as Dom himself, and, in partnership with an aspiring oligarch named Otto (Danish newcomer Thue Ersted Rasmussen), he’s within reach of a world-threatening device known as Project Aries that will make Ramsey’s God’s Eye tracking device in Furious 7 seem like a parlor trick.

Jakob, a disgraced U.S. government operative, also has a lethal skill set, has mysterious ties to Mr. Nobody and is fueled by a vengeance that is blood-and-bone deep: He’s Dom and Mia’s banished brother.

For Dom’s crew, the revelation that the man they’re up against is Dom’s brother—one they never even knew he had—raises issues beyond the overt challenge of how to defeat him. That Dom, a man who has espoused family loyalty above all else for as long as they’ve known him, discarded his own brother is an unthinkable discovery for his chosen family. And it forces them to re-evaluate everything they think they know about him, and for Dom to confront his own choices, and ultimately himself.

Casting Cena in the role was a stroke of genius, precisely because he’s never played a villain and is adored by fans around the world, making Jakob immediately relatable and sympathetic to audiences, even when he’s doing terrible things. Jakob is not some cold, calculating evil force. He’s wounded and rageful, which makes him both more human and more dangerous.

Early on, before the role was finalised, Cena met informally with Vin Diesel to discuss joining the franchise. No mention was made of the specifics of the role, but for Cena, just the possibility of joining a franchise that he had loved for two decades was thrilling. An avowed gearhead with his own enviable collection of cars, Cena is wholly in his element when it comes to fast and furious cars of every make and model.

Diesel, who has a very symbiotic relationship with his 61 million+ social media followers, then floated the idea, in a video post to his fans, of Cena joining the franchise. The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive, and it cemented his and Justin Lin’s own feelings about Cena: This was a match made in Fast heaven.

Soon after, Cena was officially invited to the Fast family in a role that would ultimately reverberate throughout the franchise. Not least of all for Cena himself. “I think what has kept the franchise at the forefront of what fans want to see all these years is the narrative about family,” Cena says. “That really excites me, because now I actually get the honor of bearing the Toretto name.”

With Cena on board, Lin met with the actor to begin finalizing the character of Jakob. Their meetings would lead to insights and ideas that Lin would then share with fellow screenwriter Daniel Casey. “John plays so many good guys that we really wanted to take a couple of extra steps to just make sure that we could paint him as a multi-layered bad guy early on,” Casey says. “It really came down to the work that Justin and John did themselves. They would meet and really hash out the character in depth. These adjustments and nuances would make their way back to me so that I could layer them into the screenplay and ensure Jakob’s dialogue hit the right emotional marks for Dom. The thing about Jakob is that he knows how to get inside his older brother’s head in a way that previous villains in the series, even Cipher, aren’t able to. That’s what makes him so formidable. For me, the fun of crafting the storytelling for Dom and Jakob began from these conversations about all the anger that Jakob is carrying around.”

Lin, always meticulous with the details when it comes to character development, knew early on that he wanted the Toretto cross necklace, a resounding touchstone and symbol of family, incorporated into Jakob’s backstory. Its presence alone would pack a powerful emotional punch while painting a dark picture of the vanished brother.

The emotional wallops don’t stop there, either. For all the jaw-dropping, mind-blowing physical confrontations, stunts, chases and set pieces that make F9 such a spectacular blast to watch, it is the blood rift between these brothers that deals the films hardest blows.

“Jakob is a compelling antagonist with a deadly skill set, but deep down he’s driven by this need for his big brother to recognize that he has value, and for him, the best way to do it is to show his superiority,” Cena says. “It may sound weird, but what really motivates Jakob is summed up best by something Cipher says to Jakob in the film. At one point in the film, almost as a throwaway line, Cipher says to him, ‘All you ever wanted was a hug.’ Jakob just wants to be part of a family unit, and that is something that Dom took away from him. At the end of the day, he wants to show his brother that he has worth.”

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