How will ‘Fast’ films deal with Walker’s death?

I posted this story to FOX5Vegas.com this afternoon — what’s in store for the Fast & Furious films following the death of series star Paul Walker?

There was never any doubt in my mind that the next film, Fast & Furious 7, would be finished (and that was backed up by The Hollywood Reporter) but the filmmakers face the hardest decision when it comes to Walker’s character.

Should Brian O’Conner die in the series? Is there a way to pay tribute to Walker’s role using his finished scenes?

It’s a terrible position for first-time Fast helmer James Wan, who is taking over for Justin Lin, who had directed every film in the series since Tokyo Drift.

As I wrote, the Fast films aren’t the first to lose a star, but the series theme of “family” is going to make it harder for Wan and his writers.

The O’Conner character isn’t one you can easily cut and lift out of continuity. He’s appeared in all but one of the films, and is now married and a father.

While it’s easy to say co-star Vin Diesel is the bigger star of the series, Walker’s death will cast a shadow over the seventh film and any that follow. Diesel, who is also a producer, may decide not to continue the series.

Universal tried to extend the franchise without Walker (with Diesel only in a cameo) and the result was Tokyo Drift, a movie that was poorly received and removed from series continuity until the end of Fast & Furious 6.

Together, Diesel and Walker are the foundation of the films, in a way I can only compare to Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon films. It doesn’t feel right to have one without the other.

Elsewhere:

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