Fast & Furious franchise needs to let Paul Walker rest in peace

Nearly six years after the tragic death of Paul Walker, there remain hints the actor will appear, somehow, in the next Fast & Furious instalment, Furious 9.

While I can understand the reluctance to truly let his character Brian O’Connor drift off into the abyss, enough is enough – we need to let Paul Walker and the memory of his character rest in peace before we ruin it altogether.

The star was tragically killed in a car crash on 30 November 2013, at the age of 40. At the time Fast & Furious 7 hadn’t yet been finished, so the decision was made to write Brian’s ending into the script using GCI and the involvement of Paul’s brothers Cody and Caleb to create our last look at his story.

He had a fitting ending, an important tribute to both Paul and the character as he drove alongside Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel). It made sense. It wasn’t sappy nor overly dramatic.

We were more than okay with the way it was handled, and we knew it had come a time where Brian’s story had ended. Cue ugly tears every time we hear Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s See You Again.

So why are there still conversations about bringing him back for Furious 9?

His brother Cody teased a possible return for the character, long after fans, albeit reluctantly at the time, bid him adieu.

‘You know there’s a lot of things that are said about the franchise, there’s a lot of rumours going around,’ he told recently.

‘I think anything is possible and we’ll see what the future has in store.’

Sure, I can understand why many would not want to let Paul go, but the franchise owes it not only to the actor but to the fans to not overdo the memory. Leave him be.

I was nervous when the last film set up a return of sorts when in response to Dom’s apparent turn to the dark side, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) said that ‘Brian would know what to do’.

Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) replied: ‘We can’t bring Brian and Mia into this. We agreed on that.’

Yeah, guys, we agreed on this.

A return was mildly unnecessary back then, but now it’s just ridiculous and seemingly serves no purpose other than a play to make more money at the box office.

The work of CGI, and Paul’s brothers, to create his fitting finale back in 2015 was a perfect ending to a heartbreaking death. It serves not only Brian’s story arc but it means fans weren’t left hanging with unfinished business.

Everything was wrapped up in a neat little package. His memory even continued after Dom named his kid Brian at the end of the eighth movie. What more could we possibly want?

How will the Furious franchise bring Paul back in a way that isn’t obscenely gratuitous? I want to believe it could happen, but I’m afraid it’s verging on the soap opera.

By continuing to bring back a character we long said goodbye to, very emotionally, may we add, we’re only prolonging the trauma of losing one of the franchise’s biggest stars.

We can keep Paul’s candle burning in so many other ways that aren’t risking the final memory we have of him on screen.

What if Furious 9 tanks and the last memory you have of Paul Walker ruins the perfection we got four years ago?

Much like those ageing singers that just don’t know when to quit, embarking on farewell tour/comeback tour/farewell tour after farewell tour (Elton John, you’re the exception – you can keep touring as long as you want) showbiz needs to know when you’re flogging a horse that just doesn’t want to race.

Carrie Fisher will appear in Star Wars IX: The Rise Of Skywalker however that’s all done with footage already shot, while her story naturally continues. I’m still dubious about that, mind you, but with Paul, we’re talking about a story that’s been given its brilliant goodbye, and anything more will solely rely on the magic of computers and people who look like him.

And it just feels…weird.

While there’s no malice from those who want to see Paul grace the screens again, we have to ask ourselves what is stands to deliver to our lives and whether it’s being done meaningfully or just for the sake of it.

Let’s just relive the seven Furious films we got with Paul and remember the guy at his prime.

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