Without Paul Walker, Can Fast & Furious Keep Improving The Franchise?

Warning: This article contains spoiler talk for Furious 7. Feel free to bookmark this piece and come back after you've seen the movie.

Furious 7 is a hell of a ride, and it's well worth your time at the movie theater. Not only is the action and excitement worthy of carrying the Fast And Furious flag, it's a fitting tribute to the work that Paul Walker has put into the franchise that he loved. As exciting as this movie is, though, it is tempered by unfortunate sadness, as this is the last we'll see of Walker's Brian O'Connor in the series that made him famous. Which leaves one big question on everyone's mind: Can the obviously successful franchise keep going after the death of one of its founders?

Personally, I think Fast & Furious 8 sounds like a great idea. Now here me out before breaking out the pitchforks and torches, because I do realize that Paul Walker's absence is a huge blow to the series' status quo. In fact, Furious 7 writes Brian off in such a way that it simultaneously pays loving tribute to Paul Walker, while at the same time giving Brian O'Connor the happy ending he deserves. While the script was altered and the production delayed to make all of the right changes to Furious 7, Brian's character already seemed ripe for retirement when you think about it. He became a family man, and it was only a matter of time before he left the team to be a full-time father to his son. The circumstances of why this plot point ultimately came to be are heartbreaking, but at least Brian's departure seems like a natural break for the character.

While Fast & Furious 8 does seem like a plausible idea, does it sound like a good idea? Yes, actually, it does. Brian's retirement is the end of an era, and you can see it in the team's eyes at the end of Furious 7. While this could be used as a juncture to close off the series, it'd be nice to see this used as a lead in to one last score to tie up all of the loose ends with Dom and the rest of the team. One last mission with Luke Hobbs, Mr. Nobody, and the DSS in New York could close everything off in spectacular fashion. Hell, you could even use Furious 8 to both further and complete the story of The Fast And Furious: Tokyo Drift's protagonist, Sean, who we see briefly in Furious 7. What's more, Vin Diesel is already talking it up in interviews during his Furious 7 press rounds, so already, you've got the most difficult person to sign on to a post-Walker Furious 8. Where Diesel goes, the cast surely will follow.

If memory serves correctly, Universal has two more films built into the Furious 7 cast's contracts. The harsh reality of the matter is that whether we like it or not, Universal is going to want to exercise that option – particularly with the stupid amount of money this franchise has generated for the recently rebounding studio. Rather than make another entry in the vein of The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, or worse – forcing two more films into production to fulfill the nine picture contract, it sounds like a good idea to go for a “one and done” approach and to end the series with Furious 8.

Brian O'Connor has his happy ending, and despite how much it pains him to have lost his friend, you would think that Vin Diesel wouldn't mind taking one last ride to properly put the franchise he and his brother built from the ground up. What do you think?

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.