Whether you are a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise or not, you can still appreciate the tactful – and very emotional way – director James Wan paid his regards to the late actor, along with the whole cast and crew. Buckle your seat belts for this one but beware, spoilers are included (and I’m not talking about the bodywork pieces).
Before I start this article, I would like to point out I have been a fan of Fast and Furious since the beginning and, with the excception of the 3d installment, I have loved every one of them. I was devastated when I heard of Paul Walker’s death especially because, without knowing him personnally, I knew I would miss his character Bryan O’Connor dearly. Blonde with shaggy hair, blue eyed with a laidback attitude and a strong set of values, I always admired him (he also reminded me a lot of my brother). It was therefore a bittersweet feeling of happiness that hit me when I heard that the movie he hadn’t had a chance to finish would be completed and released with the help of his brothers. It was bittersweet because I knew I would get to see him again and share another ride all the while knowing it was the last.
But as months went by, the more I thought about it the more I wondered how they could give Bryan a proper send off. After all he had been through with Dom, Letty, Tej and Rom, I could not see him leaving them behind, even if for his family with Mia. I kept thinking “the only way Bryan would ever leave Dom’s side would be if he was dead”. Yet, the director had told he would not kill Bryan’s character, that would have hit too close to home. So I wondered, how in the world they could make Bryan’s exit feel true. Because after sharing 15 years with this character I wanted him to go out with a bang. And since Paul and Bryan sort of melted into the same person in my head, I wanted his on-screen goodbye to be perfect. I didn’t want anything to fell flat and I though any reason other than death would definitely fall flat and not do justice to the character and his bond with Dom.
I was wrong.
Chris Morgan wrote the perfect goodbye for Bryan/Paul. It was deeply poignant and moving but it also gives a feeling of having come full circle. In itself the final scene isn’t sad per se, but the implications of it take it to another level. Set on the beach with the whole crew gathered around with the traditional Coronas, it is a perfect send off and also a beautiful hommage to the solar being that was Paul Walker. I say Paul Walker cause in that scene, this is not Bryan O’Connor that everyone sees, not the character but the man behind him, even if, weirdly, he didn’t even shoot the scene. Bryan goofs around with his son and Mia while the rest look on. “This is where he belongs” says Letty, with Dom adding “Home, where he’s always belonged“. And then the tears start flooding. Even more when Rom chimes in adding “Things are gonna be different now“. The parallel between the story and what happened in real life really hits home there. The emotions you see flashing over everyone’s face are not acted, they are real and you feel them, deeply. As Dom (Vin Diesel) stands and prepares to leave, Ramsey asks ‘Aren’t you gonna say goodbye?‘ to which he answers “It’s never goodbye“. That alone would have been a great ending, but as I said Paul deserved an amazing one and that’s exactly what they delivered.
Cut to Letty, Tej and Rom’s faces taking in the beautiful image of Bryan and his family in front of the ocean waves. Then you are back on the road with Dom or Vin as it seems in his final scene everyone has let their character behind to just be themselves. The car stops at a crossroad and then a white car comes along, purring. Paul is in it smiling like he always did and he genuinely looks like an angel, which he has probably become now.
Then Vin starts to say:
I used to say I lived my life a quarter mile at a time and I think that’s why we were brothers- because you did, too. No matter where you are, whether it’s a quarter mile away or half way across the world. You’ll always be with me… And you’ll always be my brother.
As he speaks you see both cars driving side to side before taking on separate roads. And it is Paul’s that you follow along until he vanishes in the hills in the setting sun. The scene is beautiful as it is both an incredibly powerful hommage to Paul as well as being a reminder to Vin, the whole crew and every fan of Paul, that he might be gone but his memory still lives on.
This was both a very tactful and emotional way to say goodbye to a character as well as the actor that gave him life. And while it will be difficult turning the page over and seeing Dom going on new adventures without his sidekick, we can still do it knowing that it ended on that powerful scene.
So all I want to say is congratulations to James Wan and everyone involved for dealing with that incredibly difficult scene the way they did. And thank you as well to the cast and crew for finding the strength to fight through tears to deliver such a movie. Without talking about the last scene, it was a great ride once again, over the top as it should be and incredibly funny.