In a world where digital doubles are only a contract clause away, pretty much anyone can come back to finish a film, or even completely take part in it, without ever having to be physically present. Furious 7 was one such film with an unfortunate pedigree, as the late Paul Walker died before he could complete production on the film. But thanks to his brothers and some CGI magic, Walker's work was finished and the character was retired. But then attention turned towards The Fate of the Furious, as director F. Gary Gray discussed how the issue of Walker's potential return was debated, with the following resolution:
In The Fate of the Furious, Brian O'Connor is mentioned in passing, as well as Jordana Brewster's Mia, as a brief reminder of how the characters weren't around to help with the current mess that family got themselves into with this latest adventure. Though Brian's memory is more thoroughly invoked when Dom names his son, whom he conceived with ex-girlfriend Elena, after his dear friend. But other than that, the film was devoid of any appearances from Paul Walker's image.
With the amount of stand-in work done by Paul Walker's brothers and with CGI face alterations being so advanced, you can't blame F. Gary Gray and the folks behind The Fate of the Furious for at least thinking about trying to bring Walker back. If even Peter Cushing could come back and star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with a substantial role, then surely using the same tricks as Furious 7 would have given the character of Brian an opportunity to ride out the rest of the series. But the decision was made to not get carried away with such tools of the trade, as confirmed by the remarks made to Screen Rant. Frankly, that was probably the best way to go.
If you're going to show Paul Walker in a Fast and Furious sequel nowadays, it's going to be distracting. More importantly, it's going to take the audience out of the film without a damned good reason to include such an appearance. Not to mention, this sort of thing is probably a budgetary strain, with all of the work hours and effort it takes to bring back a celebrity who's no longer with us. So rather than distract with his memory, The Fate of the Furious paid tribute to Paul Walker with the ever spinning circle of life. Now Dom has his back as he helps protect the next generation, all in the name of his good friend. If you ask us, that's the best way this situation could have ever gone.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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