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The Just Cause movie will rip if it leans on Fast & Furious’ nonsense

The Just Cause movie could be a bombastic action flick, and the recipe for big-screen success exists in the Fast and Furious movies.

Just Cause movie: An image of Rico Rodriguez in Just Cause 4 and Jason Mamoa in Fast X

Ever since I first played Just Cause on my barely functioning PlayStation 2 in 2006, this franchise had its hook in me and refuses to let go. This is my favorite gaming franchise of all-time, so naturally I’m protective of these games, but the thought of a Just Cause movie should be exciting. It can’t shy away from the franchise’s quirks and be a generic action movie, it needs to go full gonzo and take notes from the Fast and Furious movies.

However, the path to get there hasn’t been easy so far. I’ve been keeping my eyes on the Just Cause movie since it gained traction as Just Cause: Scorpion Rising in 2011. This version of the open world game series was rewritten by DC Comics and Marvel writer Bryan Edward Hill, but was soon met with radio silence. A few years go by, and in 2015, Square Enix begins to plan a shared cinematic universe with Hitman, Just Cause, and Tomb Raider all sharing the same space. Yet, the abysmal Rupert Friend starring Hitman: Agent 47 and underrated (yes, underrated) 2018 Tomb Raider movie didn’t give way to this idea. In the middle of all that, Jason Momoa was cast as Rico Rodriguez, an admittedly solid choice for embodying the character’s near parodic machismo.

Confidence in the project was almost ignited within me when John Wick scribe Derek Kolstad was attached to the project. Now, the current iteration of the project has Blue Beetle director Ángel Manuel Soto in the director’s chair, with John Wick co-director and Bullet Train helmer David Leitch co-producing. This could be a very promising pairing. Blue Beetle is notable for giving audiences the first comic book movie with a Latino lead, a perfect combo with the Just Cause IP. The first Just Cause entry positioned a Latino hero into the spotlight when games like GTA at the time were focused on typically American or British characters (remember The Getaway?).

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Leitch’s penchant for the craft of cinema, stunt work and practicality could yield some massive results in the action department. But to make these elements sing, this movie needs to understand the ethos of Just Cause’s fiery world. Rockstar Games dominated the space Just Cause needed to break through into in 2006. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and San Andreas quickly became two of the highest selling PlayStation games ever, and anything else was just seen as a pale imitation. To me, Just Cause rose above the crowd by focusing less on the detail-rich goals of Rockstar, and turning its massive sandbox into a canvas for curating your own 80s action movie.

Rico Rodriguez is Avalanche Studios’ amalgamation of big screen royalty like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Antonio Banderas, and Kurt Russell. Rico’s personality embodies them all, and even his outfit channels their nonchalant coolness: the finest linen shirts, pleated trousers, and cowboy boots – the ultimate outfit for military liberation.

They might be the best games for narrative, but that’s all part of the charm, because the action is the juice here. Every Just Cause game revels in the nonsensical advantages its chaos affords, from jetpack powered wing suits all the way up to riding a nuclear warhead during a gunfight. And I fucking love it. I live for this kind of absurdity, joyously laughing at just how wild each battle can get and all the possibilities that are only limited by my imagination.

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Just Cause games aren’t self serious, even when later entries explore the backstory of Rico and take us to the childhood home of Medici in Just Cause 3. These experiences knowingly wink at the player, acknowledging how outlandish the adventure is going to be. Believe it or not, there is a blueprint that a Just Cause movie could follow for success: the Fast and Furious franchise. The exploits of Dominic Toretto and his crew of racers-turned-spies are the closest thing to a Just Cause movie these days, with The Expendables movies trailing closely behind them.

Fast X alone features segments where Dominic Toretto essentially plays real-life Rocket League on the streets of Rome, or rides away down the slope of a dam from an incoming explosion. He’s even wearing his signature cross pendant, just like Rico would wear. It isn’t highbrow cinema, but they’re well-oiled spectacles that are deeply enhanced by Vin Diesel’s otherworldly commitment to the Fast Saga. Diesel firmly believes he’s creating art on the level of auteurs like Martin Scorsese, Denis Villeneuve, Michael Mann or Kathryn Bigelow. The director, be it James Wan or Louis Leterrier, are the vessel for his manifestations of Corona drenched storytelling.

This is the same person, who before they signed onto ride dinos in Ark 2, said to Yahoo in 2020 that Furious 7’s ending “might be the best moment in cinematic history […] men around the world, everyone was able to cry, but men around the planet for the first time in history were able to cry together.” Now, this is an aura that the Just Cause movie could harness. The pedigree of gaming adaptations is higher than ever, with Fallout and The Last of Us finding success on the small-screen, but a Just Cause movie can still be good without chasing accolades.

Whether Momoa is still taking on the mantle of Rico Rodriguez is unclear, but his exceptionally charismatic performance in Fast X still makes a worthy contender. Regardless of who becomes Rico, there’s still time for the project to disappear into obscurity again.

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I’ll be curious to see if this project actually gets off the ground this time, given how rocky its path to fruition has been. When the first Superman movie was released in 1978, its tagline claimed the audience would believe “a man can fly.” I’m hoping the Just Cause movie will make me believe a man can blow shit up.

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