Meet The Writer Who’s Tasked With Keeping The “Fast And Furious” Franchise Afloat — Without The Cars

chris morgan

Let’s play a quick game of word association. We say “The Fast And The Furious,” you say — cars, right?

It’s screenwriter Chris Morgan‘s job to destroy that link.

Morgan, who wrote “Fast Five” — the fifth movie in the Paul Walker/Vin Diesel autoromp series, out this Friday — is tasked with transitioning the “Fast” franchise from gearhead porn to something broader.

Specifically, Universal execs, who worry that the racing theme has run its course, want Morgan to churn out “Fast” movies about heists — not just the getaway vehicles.

The plot of “Fast Five” revolves around “a job” that will keep the main characters out of jail. The sixth film will be robbery-themed. And plans for future installments are unofficial, but “Fast” shows no signs of slowing down.

Morgan — who has a flair for balancing indulgent action-flick glory with counterintuitive writing — is a great choice for the gusty assignment.

Remember “Cellular,” the 2004 action flick that revolved around a cell-phone kidnapping rescue — and helped solidify Jason Statham as an actor who could carry a movie? That was Morgan’s breakout script.

He followed it up with the third “Fast” film, “Tokyo Drift,” which grossed $157 million worldwide — though most of that came overseas.

Morgan’s biggest hit would come in 2008 with the Angelina Jolie starrer “Wanted,” which grossed $339 million worldwide — $134 million of which came from U.S. theatres.

All this success for Universal (of the movies above, all but “Cellular” were put out by the studio) led Morgan to the two-year deal he locked up with the company last week.

His upcoming projects suggest that he’s willing and able to flex his skills into subgenres outside of shoot-em-up action.

Morgan’s next film — a samurai movie called “47 Ronin” that stars Keanu Reeves — is shooting right now in Budapest. And there are sci-fi-leaning flicks among his whopping eight projects in development.

So Morgan will be OK whether or not he convinces audiences they’d rather watch Paul Walker point a pistol than work a gear shift — but what a neat trick it would be.