The untimely passing of Paul Walker signaled a fundamental change for the Fast & Furious franchise. By the end of Furious 7, all of the characters announced that things would change with the absence of Brian O’Conner. Now, it seems that the franchise will tell one more overarching story, then end its story in earnest.
Franchise icon – and all around nice guy – Vin Diesel has released a statement to his Facebook page indicating that the Fast & Furious will indeed end after one more trilogy:
Universal has been so good to me and so trusting of the vision... they have been like family... I promised the studio I would deliver one last Trilogy to end the saga.
The statement most certainly captures the spirit of the franchise as a whole. Family has always been a central thematic element of the series, and Diesel’s posting reinforces the idea that he has a close working relationship with Universal to create the best possible trilogy to finish off the franchise. Furious 7 introduced the team to a whole new world of espionage and globe-trotting adventure – funded mostly by Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody – so the final trilogy could easily build off of the mythology that Paul Walker’s final film set into motion.
Little has been said about the direction the final trilogy will go. Diesel has yet to sign off on a director for the eighth film in the franchise, but it has been confirmed that the film will primarily take place in New York and feature the return of Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw.
There are certain advantages to knowing that the franchise will come to an end. As we have previously mentioned in our coverage of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, this gives the Fast & Furious franchise the opportunity to raise the stakes. Up until now, death has been a relatively non-existent concept for most of the franchise’s main characters. Despite his death, Walker’s character was simply "retired" from the franchise, and even characters who have supposedly died in continuity – such as Michelle Rodriguez’ Letty – have been retconned back to life. Knowing that the franchise is ending, Universal and the creative team behind the final trilogy could opt to ramp up the tension and make any of the characters fair game for death.
Saying farewell to the Fast & Furious franchise marks the end of an era. The series began all the way back in 2001 and has regularly released installments over the last 15 years. With only three installments left in the franchise, we feel confident that Diesel and the rest will make them count. Fast and Furious 8 will hit theaters on April 14, 2017.