I need to take a moment and speak my truth about one of my favorite film franchises of all time, The Fast and Furious.
I f*cking love this franchise, with all of my heart, unironically. So much so that I’ve even gone on a Fast and Furious podcast, that’s how deep (and pure) is my love for the family.
So it is with a heavy heart that I admit to you now that ever since Paul Walker’s death, it’s missing something—the easy, breezy, SoCal charm that he brought to the franchise, and which I believe, grounded it.
Paul’s character, Brian, never had to have the last word, be seen as the macho guy, or match his punches to outnumber the ones he had to take, unlike some of his co-stars.
Brian was, quite literally, happy to be along for the ride, which led to my favorite stunt in the history of the franchise.
He was happy to get out of a situation by not using brawn but basically stumbling forward until he was out of danger, which was much more believable than Dom driving a car literally off a cliff and surviving, all while saving the lady in distress in the process. Yawn.
With his character written out of the series at the end of the seventh movie, the franchise lost the heart and soul of the series, and an everyman to ground the story. Let’s pause a moment to remember the fitting sendoff Brian got, mainly because it’s my favorite part of the entire franchise, and I still tear up when I watch it.
OK. Take a moment. Collect yourself and we’ll continue.
The result of Brian’s arc ending with Fast 7 was The Fate of the Furious, where the family were no longer outsiders on the wrong side of the law, but black-ops puppets with the full force of a secret military branch behind them. Where’s the fun in that? How did we go from Point Break with cars to fighting Charlize Theron and a submarine in just six movies?!
The series is missing a grounding character, who never gets too worked up about anything. Someone who likes cars and, again, is just happy to be there. It needs a character who keeps the plot closer to home, so Dom can do what Dom does, but their role is to keep the plot focused on a tight story that maybe doesn’t involve submarines.
Additionally, given what we know that goes on behind the scenes on the Furious movies, the person needed to ground the plot also needs to be a big enough star to ground the production. Leading actors set the tone. If they’re out there counting punches and making sure they’re never seen as weak, that makes the plot service them more than it services the story. (Make no mistake, the Furious movies do have stories and when done well, rival any action movie made, ever. Just take a look at Fast 5.) The star they need to cast needs to be big enough to set the example that it doesn’t matter what punches their character has to take, and also chill enough to simply not care.
I believe they tried to do that with Scott Eastwood’s character in F8, but let’s be honest—Scott Eastwood doesn’t really have the charisma or the stature to pull that off. Especially coming late to a franchise that is worth over 5 billion dollars.
You will probably not be surprised to learn that there is a group of Overlords on the Pajiba Slack who talked incessantly about the Fast and Furious franchise for about a week during the time Hobbs and Shaw came out, and we all agreed; it’s lacking heart now—but who could bring that to the franchise?!
We’re heartened by the news that John Cena is joining the cast for Fast 9, as his name came up in the conversation, but as his character’s nature is unclear (and the franchise has a habit of stunt casting people from the wrestling/fighting world as the baddies) the chances of Cena playing a Brian-esque character aren’t great.
Enter Chris Pine.
He’s very pretty, like Walker was. He clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously, like Walker, as well; just look at the SNL skit above. The only key component that’s missing is that he doesn’t seem to be that into muscle cars, although he does seem to like fancy cars! I guess that’s where the acting would come in, right?
Probably most importantly, Pine is a big enough name that he could set a more relaxed tone on the film set, and bring back some of that easy-going charm that Walker gave to the franchise.
Pine has already proven he can do big action movies with his roles in Wonder Woman and the Star Trek franchise, so why not?! I don’t believe for a second that the Fast and Furious movies will end after the 10th, they all basically print money, so it’s time to invest in a new leading man now to help bring the series back to what made it wildly popular in the first place.
Let’s honor the legacy of Brian and ground the franchise with an everyman character once more.
Header Image Source: Getty