Earlier today I logged onto IMDB to research an article I was planning to write. I was confronted with the news that actor Paul Walker died yesterday following a car accident in Valencia, California. The report stated that he was the passenger in a car on the way to a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. Both he and the driver died. Within a few clicks on the internet I came across comparisons to James Dean, although Walker is neither as young or iconic as Dean, any untimely death is a tragedy. The only tribute a film fan can make is to talk about the films that made him famous that given the manor of his death will be much talked about.
I have a difficult relationship with The Fast and the Furious franchise (2001 – 2013 so far). When I first saw the original movie back in 2001, I has mixed feelings. I immediately spotted the plot stolen form one of my favourite action movies. I found it predictable and clichéd. However it was great fun and stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez where always watchable. As the series progressed there were highs and lows culminating in the last two movies actually being quite good. The greatest criticisms is the wanton destruction of classic cars. Putting all this aside, the appeal of the movies has always been mindless fun.
Walker’s other career highlights include the underrated Joy Ride (2001) (co-written by J.J. Abrams and directed by John Dahl) and Varsity Blues (1999). What this means for Fast & Furious 7 and the future of the franchise is a conversation for another day. It may well go on without him, but it won’t be the same.