In what is probably the most obvious piece of a news to come out this year (so far), Universal has decided that yes, as most of us surmised, in order to continue with Fast & Furious 7 they need a viable workaround for the late Paul Walker's Brian O'Connor, without hitting too close to Walker's actual death as a result of a high-speed sports car crash. Hard to do in a Fast & Furious movie.
Surprise, surprise, that solution has now been officially settled upon: Brian O'Connor will get a happier ending than Paul Walker did.
THR reports that F&F7 director James Wan and writer Chris Morgan are tweaking the script in a way that they can use what footage of Walker they already shot (about half the film), while also creating a send off for Walker's character Brian that would still allow the franchise to continue. The film has currently been pushed back to April 10, 2015 to allow the cast time to grieve and the necessary changes to be made.
I said the following in the immediate aftermath of Walker's passing, when we were all wondering what was going to happen with the franchise:
Maybe things don’t have to be so dark. Maybe Brian and Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their child are all sent off into the sunset to live free and happy while Dom and the rest of the crew continue to deal with threats at their car doors. Maybe the land of movie fantasy offers fans something better than the harsh reality of life did. Maybe we all could use something a little more uplifting as we say goodbye to an actor whose character was an icon for a generation of moviegoers. One can only hope…
...And it would seem like that hope is definitely becoming a reality. As it should.
Recent rumors have pointed to Paul's little brother Cody Walker possibly filling in for some of the stunt-heavy moments in the film (a lot of the big set pieces haven't been shot yet), and this "Brian goes into the sunset" scenario could still utilize that option. In short: since the film revolves around Jason Statham's villain looking for payback for the events of Fast & Furious 6, Brian could be involved in the early part of the film until danger hits too close, before he, Dom and Co. finally opt to do the responsible thing and send Brian and Mia off to live safe with their son.
That's really the best of all worlds. Fans get one last outing with Walker in his most iconic role; the franchise can continue without detriment to the part 7 storyline; and nobody has to be reminded of the grisly reality of things, nor feel like Walker's memory has been disrespected.
Fast & Furious 7 will be in theaters on April 10, 2015.