You’ve really got to admire the way the Fast & Furious franchise has handled the absence of Paul Walker following the actor’s tragic death in 2013. It’s not often that a $200 million blockbuster ends with barely a dry eye in the house, but the seventh installment’s hugely emotional finale literally sent Brian O’Conner riding off into the sunset in the most fitting possible fashion.
It would have been a lot simpler for the narratives to continue without mentioning Brian at all, but the core creative team made a conscious decision to keep Walker’s memory alive. Across The Fate of the Furious and F9 his name is mentioned repeatedly, while the in-canon explanation that he’s gotten out of the daredevil business to look after his family makes perfect sense, and neatly fits the theme of the entire Fast Saga.
Vin Diesel promised his longtime friend that Fast & Furious would make it to ten movies before his passing, and we’re hearing from our sources – the same ones who told us Han would return in the ninth film long before it was officially confirmed – that the climactic tenth and eleventh globetrotting adventures could use a digital double so that Walker appears on screen one last time, even if it’ll only be brief.
Of course, that kind of decision would raise a number of moral and ethical questions, but Walker’s family were fully supportive of the choice made to composite him into the remainder of part seven, so they might be okay with the idea of having him show up for a farewell cameo. Fast & Furious 9 closes on the note of Brian’s signature car pulling up to the classic Toretto barbecue, and one last moment alongside the crew could be a fitting exclamation point to his memory.