Record-Breaking ‘Furious 7’ Is Also Breaking Hearts With A Paul Walker Tribute

There are many reasons to go see the latest installment of the Fast & The Furious franchise and there’s little doubt that Furious 7 packs quite a punch with the heart-pounding action that has made the entire series such a success, but much of that $146.3 million dollar box office gross may have as much to do with the tribute to Walker as it does with the actual action, plot, or the special effects. The cast and crew finished the film following the tragic death of fellow co-star Paul Walker with the intention and the hope that Furious 7 would stand as a monument to the memory of Mr. Walker.

Vin Diesel at the premiere of 'Furious 7'

“This movie is more than a movie… I’m going to tell you, last year it was really tough to come back to work,” Vin Diesel said at Furious 7‘s Wednesday night premiere.

Paul’s death on November 30, 2013, understandably brought the Furious 7 production to a grinding halt and, even after the shock and the grief began to subside enough to return to work, the Furious 7 writers and crew had to figure out how to complete the project without its star. The solution was inventive even by Hollywood’s standards. The primary goal was to keep Paul Walker as much a part of Furious 7 as was possible, so the production team used as much of Walker’s footage as they could salvage, before turning to Cody and Caleb Walker, Paul’s brothers, and actor John Brotherton. Between the three additional sources, more film footage and voice recordings were added to help complete Furious 7. The end product creates a movie that makes it nearly impossible to tell which pieces were pasted into the film and which segments were authentic parts of the original feature.

Brian and Mia share an intimate moment in 'Furious 7'

Paul’s character, Brian, provides the focal point for much of the emotion experienced throughout the film and much of that has to do with his relationship with wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) and his drive for action. In a moment that is perhaps as heart-wrenching for Walker fans to hear as it was for Furious 7 characters to play out, Brian tells his wife that it’s important that she goes on, if anything should ever happen to him.

There are a few other moments that could be seen as possibly morbid in the aftermath of Walker’s death, but filmmakers did an excellent job of making Brian’s final Furious story as upbeat and enjoyable as possible.

'Furious 7' funeral scene

The emotional peek of Furious 7 comes with a montage that reminds fans that The Fast & The Furious has been entertaining fans for more than 10 years, while also focusing on Paul Walker’s Furious moments throughout the past decade. That segment alone leaves fans feeling nostalgic and connects them to the family of Furious stars as they offer up Furious 7 to honor their fallen brother, Paul Walker.

[Images courtesy of Universal Pictures]