The Fast and the Furious franchise of movies has continued to evolve into a high-octane action spectacle, beginning from its humbler roots as a simple racing-and-heisting film. But the movies had to dramatically alter their trajectory when star Paul Walker tragically died in the midst of production of Furious 7.
Walker’s passing forced the movie to change the plan for the original ending and give his character of Brian a fitting cap to the story while allowing the franchise to move forward.
Writer Chris Morgan spoke with Collider about the tragic event and how it forced him to give audiences a “cathartic experience to say goodbye.”
Of course the original ending was different from what audiences saw on screen, but the change was organically derived from what was already completed.
Morgan said that Brian’s story was always about reconciling his family, with Mia and their budding family, with the adrenaline-fueled lifestyle he’s established over the course of six movies.
Well, the original ending, if I remember correctly, was our guys end up solving the problem and then kind of becoming—again, going more outlaw, it was sort of a happier ending that kind of ends with the insinuation that they were gonna go off onto this heist or this job. But the core issue for Brian, Paul’s character, was this kind of ‘Who am I?’ sort of question. He’s a guy who used to be a cop and in the thick of the action and a racer, and all this stuff, and now he has an amazing wife, a kid and another one on the way. Then he starts to look at his life and it’s not a midlife crisis but to say—we said it in the movie, ‘I miss the bullets, I miss the action’ and the point of the adventure was to show by the end of it that the thing that’s truly important to him is his family and being there. It wouldn’t mean that he has to stop those adventures or those things, but the context is just a little bit different, he has a different understanding of who he is at his core and what’s most important in life.
Morgan said that there was a storytelling need to address Brian and Mia’s departure in this new film, and it is touched up on. The mention had to make sense from a story perspective—both to the audience and to the characters in the film.
Morgan said he felt they achieved that, considering The Fate Of The Furious is all about how their makeshift family could unravel in the wake of Dominic Toretto’s betrayal.
The guy who is their father figure, their brother, their husband, who’s taught them their moral code, suddenly betrays it all, goes rogue, goes against them, and it becomes a real question of faith. So, do you guys just fall apart? Do you stick together? It’s so dramatic for the characters that at some point they would definitely turn to each other and say, “Oh my god, we gotta tell Brian, we gotta tell Mia. Something is going on with Dom, we don’t know what it is” So I think from a practical point of view for the characters you needed to address it. For the audience, and just as a fan as the writer on it, I also wanted to have one moment where we were able to –specifically at the beat at the end of the film– say to the audience, “We’re thinking of him too” in a respectful sort of way.
Considering that the Fast and the Furious franchise has always been about family at its core, it’s nice to see how much thought went into the unfortunate passing of Walker and how that’s incorporated into the story. There certainly was a possibility that it could have been mishandled.
But the franchise treated the character and the actor well, paying tribute to both that is somewhat atypical of a thoughtless action franchise.
The Fate Of The Furious is in theaters now.
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In The Fate of the Furious, with Dom and Letty married, Brian and Mia retired and the rest of the crew exonerated, the globe-trotting team has found some semblance of a normal life. They soon face an unexpected challenge when a mysterious woman named Cipher forces Dom to betray them all. Now, they must unite to bring home the man who made them a family and stop Cipher from unleashing chaos.
The Fate of the Furious is directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Chris Morgan. The film stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Scott Eastwood, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell and Charlize Theron.