After Paul Walker’s untimely death last year, Universal spent some time figuring out how to move forward with their highest-grossing franchise. They put Fast & Furious 7 on indefinite hold, and then Vin Diesel announced the movie would premiere on April 10th, 2015, almost a year after it would have originally hit theaters. At that point, we still weren’t sure how writer Chris Morgan would be able to incorporate Walker’s loss into the rewritten screenplay for the movie, but now THR gives us a good idea of what to expect when we see the finished product.
According to a new report, Brian O’Conner will not die in the upcoming Fast film. Instead, the character will be “retired,” which will allow the studio to use the footage that Walker had already filmed for the sequel. Director James Wan, Morgan, and Universal exec Jeffrey Kirschenbaum looked at all of the footage they’d compiled before Walker’s death and found a way for Morgan to tweak the storyline within the confines of the existing footage so Walker’s character could be given a send-off that fans will hopefully find satisfying. Some additional writing and shooting will need to take place to completely tie the story together, but with an eight month release delay, Morgan and Wan will hopefully have enough time to make it happen.
My gut feeling about this news is relief that they didn’t decide to kill Walker’s character, simply because he’s such a huge part of the franchise and having him die on screen might have been too much for fans to handle. Seeing a loss like that would rip open the wound of his loss again, and when you take into account that Walker’s teenage daughter probably wouldn’t like to see her father killed on the big screen, this direction seems like the right way to go. It’s unfortunate that O’Conner won’t be able to physically say goodbye to Dom, Roman, and the rest of the gang, and I’m guessing Jordana Brewster’s Mia character will be the one who breaks the news that the O’Conner family will be disappearing.
It seems a little tactless to wonder about Brewster’s future with the franchise, but this is a business after all; Mia is essentially defined by her relationship to Brian in these movies, so it doesn’t seem likely that she’ll return for another film without him, especially considering that she had a son in the last movie. But though Walker’s death makes his job a whole lot less fun right now, Morgan has proven himself to be extraordinarily creative when it comes to these films, and I’m sure he can organically find a way to bring Mia back into the fold if the situation calls for it further down the line.
Fast & Furious 7 will hit theaters on April 10th, 2015, and I’m going to embed Universal’s tribute video to Walker again below just in case you haven’t seen it yet.
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