When Paul Walker was killed in a car crash his loss had a serious impact on Hollywood in general, and the Fast & Furious franchise specifically. While the series took the time to say goodbye to him in the last installment, that doesn't mean he doesn't continue to impact the production. Michelle Rodriguez says the Walker was really the guy who was truly invested in the things that made the film series what it was, and without that, the remaining cast is missing something important.
Paul's the heart of it, he's the guy who really loved the genre, he loved that lifestyle. And not having that love affair with cars and that lifestyle, it removed a certain aspect of the soul of the franchise and it hurts all of us and we all know it.
While Paul Walker's death was certainly a blow it hasn't done anything to slow down the franchise as a whole. Furious 7 went on to break box office records on a global scale and became one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Fast 8 is the next chapter in the series, and there will be at least two more films following that one for an even 10 by the end of the decade.
While the Fast and Furious series has mostly left its street racing roots behind, fast cars are still a necessary requirement for every film. It seems that Paul Walker was personally a fan of the lifestyle, something which makes his passing all the more tragic, considering it was automobile related. While the rest of the cast is certainly invested in the films at this point, there's apparently nobody else who quite has that same passion. It will be interesting to see if that comes through in the final film. Will Fast 8 seem like a movie that's simply going through the motions?
For what it's worth, Michelle Rodriguez tells Entertainment Weekly that the cast sees their films as a uniquely multicultural franchise, something that Hollywood is severely lacking in otherwise. It would appear that this is the thing that the rest of the cast is focusing on as the reason to keep making the films. It's necessary to continue to show the variety of cultures on the big screen.
It's great to see that everybody has found a reason to move forward. Whatever they need to drive them to make great movies will be welcome for the fans. Fast 8 is set for an April 14, 2017 release date.