COMMENT | Universal has announced on Wednesday that 'Fast and Furious 7' will shut down indefinitely while the producers and director James Wan figure out what to do with the film that is said to be 60% shot but now will have to work around the death of one of its biggest and most beloved stars.
The studio is insured for Walker's death so there have been talks of reshooting the whole film with a new script. There were to be some critical scenes being shot in Abu Dhabi in the New Year and Paul Walker was certainly not finished on the production before he died on Saturday in a car accident. As a fan I want to see Paul Walker appear in 'Fast and Furious 7' but am worried about the other options Universal might choose.
New actor, same face
Universal could opt for the now old trick of getting in an actor to perform in the rest of Walker's scenes that were still left to be shot. They can then tinker with the footage through the art of CGI and replace the new actor's face with Walker's. It worked with Brandon Lee on 'The Crow' and with Oliver Reed in 'Gladiator' and it could work again. It does still look a bit dodgy but depending on the number of scenes left to film, it could be a valid option. Of course Universal could just reshoot all of Walker's scenes with a completely new actor and then even continue the franchise with someone new taking the role of Brian O'Conner. Let's all hope Universal do not take this option as I'm sure I'm not the only fan who would not be pleased with this decision. They did it with Dumbledore early in the 'Harry Potter' franchise but it would not be acceptable here.
Rewrite Brian out
'Fast and Furious 7' is going to have to be significantly re-written and a big part of that is going to have to be about writing Walker's character Brian out of the story. There are many ways they could do this. He could be written out before the film begins. Perhaps Dom insists that Brian take Mia and the baby as far away from Jason Statham and his Atlanta based revenge mission as possible. But this would not make the most of the footage they have of Walker already. His role could be trimmed and by the end he could be written out as a character who either dies or departs for some kind of sunset happy ending. Perhaps, if revenge is going to be a big theme of the film, then Walker's character could be eliminated early in the film. As long as Universal handle this sensitively it could be a fitting farewell to Walker and his character.
The future of the franchise
Universal were hoping to keep milking their 'Fast and Furious' cash cow for some time to come and now a tragic shadow has been cast over what used to be a fun and exciting franchise. The chemistry of Dom and Brian was a central part of the films and I would not be surprised if the stars are not keen to keep returning to what must now be a very mournful working environment. Brian will have to be written out unless they replace Walker with another actor. Hopefully Universal understands that the fans do not want a replacement for Walker. If the franchise is to continue beyond 'Fast and Furious 7' it must be without Brian. The question is, will that be a franchise worth watching?
Pete is a cautious fan of the Fast and Furious films and hopes that the franchise stands a chance of survival even after the death of one its best loved stars. Follow Pete on Twitter or check out his film and TV blog: I Love That Film.
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