I’ve been following this series since the very first movie came out when I was in middle school, so it’s a point of nostalgia for me. There’s also admittedly a level of emotional investment and attachment to the actors in their roles that I probably wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t started the series when I did. So when I happened to be watching the news around Thanksgiving and heard about Paul Walker’s passing, I felt surprisingly affected. In some ways, it’s still surreal, even though I’ve never met the actor in person.
I also didn’t expect to feel so emotional upon watching this movie, but yes, by the end I was definitely in tears. (Thankfully I wasn’t the only one, so I didn’t feel totally ridiculous in the theater, haha.) I think what the filmmakers did with Paul’s brothers was amazing, and I barely noticed when it was his brothers standing in for him. Part of me is curious to know what the original ending to this movie was, and where they would have taken this franchise, had Paul lived; however, with what they had to work with, I think that they did a great job paying tribute to him with this movie.
One thing these movies always seem to deliver on are beautiful cars and lots of action scenes. I really do think this installment was the best yet, and since it seems they will be moving forward with at least two more movies, I’ll be interested in seeing where they take it. I do hope, however, that they let the series end with the ninth movie (since the whole thing was set up to be in groups of three). I realize Hollywood might not want to let one of its cash cows go, but I feel like the franchise is just not going to be the same without Paul.
I admit that for the most part, each movie by itself doesn’t exactly have the strongest of storylines, and even though there is an overarching plot that connects them all together (kind of like what Marvel is doing with all their movies), I also admit that it’s not the most groundbreaking story of all time either. However, this movie did feel like it had a considerable amount of substance, which I think can be credited to the circumstances surrounding the filming.
It’s always nice to see how they build upon the previous movie in later installments, and to see almost all the actors from previous movies to come together for a sort of reunion for this one. I wish they had done more with Lucas Black, but maybe that’s a hope for the future. While his character was a bit of a disappointment in Tokyo Drift (2006), Black really impressed me with his acting in 42 (2013) as Pee Wee Reese, so I would be interested in seeing more of him helping the Fast team in a later installment.
Final Thoughts: If you’re a diehard fan, then no doubt you probably saw this movie in theaters. I think this series is, in general, worth seeing on the big screen, if only for the visuals (for those who aren’t super invested in the franchise). As for those who haven’t seen it in theaters and are looking for a movie to watch and unwind to, I don’t think this is a bad choice.