Paul Walker, best known for his role in the Fast and Furious franchise, tragically died Saturday afternoon in a car accident in California. At the age of 40, he was taken far too soon. But in those mere 40 years, he was able to leave behind a legacy of that of someone twice his age. From Pleasantville to Flags of Our Fathers to The Lazarus Project, Walker showed off his acting chops in a variety of genres. However, his most iconic role in the world of film came from the Fast and Furious films.
Starting in 2001, Walker began his journey in the world of street racing, and over a decade later, he is still one of the starring faces of the franchise. While Walker’s unexpected death came right before he was due back in Atlanta to resume shooting Fast & Furious 7, Universal has decided will resume production on a delayed schedule, according The Hollywood Reporter. But whether Walker will still appear in the next film or not, for us, he will always be fondly remembered as Brian O'Conner. Here our a few of our favorite of Walker's scenes from the Fast series:
The Fast and the FuriousThere's a scene in the first The Fast and the Furious film where Paul Walker's character, Brian O'Conner, reveals to Dom that he's an undercover cop — this has always been one of my favorite moments in the series for two reasons. The first is that it comes right after Brian rescues Vince from being tied to the side of a truck, and then narrowly escapes getting shot by jumping back into his convertible, all during a high speed chase. The second is because Walker's performance during that scene is incredible — far better than anything you'd expect from a Fast and Furious film, and so quiet and simple that even I often forget how good it is. Walker is having two conversations during this scene: one on the phone, where he's calling an ambulance to save Vince, and one, silently, with Dom, where he's apologizing for deceiving him, asking for forgiveness, and trying to get him to focus on keeping Vince alive, using only his face. Walker and Vin Diesel have an entire argument in that moment, expressing all of the anger, hurt, and fear the characters are feeling without actually articulating it. It's a tricky feat to convey all of that without words, but Walker nails it perfectly, and his performance deserves just as much recognition as the car chases and explosions that the franchise has become famous for. - Julia Emmanuele
2 Fast 2 Furious2 Fast 2 Furious, John Singleton's sole stab at the franchise, is widely considered the weakest of the Fast and Furious movies. But even with its mediocre script and less than stellar visuals, we see charm in Paul Walker. His back and forth with the walking machismo that is Tyrese Gibson showcased hints of the goofy, straight-laced charm we'd see come out with a vengeance in the later pictures… but the badass side of gawky Brian O'Conner was clear as day in the film’s climactic scene. Long before Taken opted for the very same ending, 2 Fast 2 Furious handed Walker the chance to fly — in a speedy vehicle — over the water and onto the boat of a fleeing criminal.
We have to give a few points to Walker for handling the adrenaline here with some dignity. He winces, bellows, and shrieks… but all with the kind of cool humanity that balances him as a relatable character and an action hero. No, 2 Fast is not at all a terrific showcase of Walker’s aptitude as an actor, but it is one of the chapters in the series he is best known and most celebrated for. And there are more than a few notes therein of his penchant for making the camera happy.- Michael Arbeiter
Fast & FuriousMany of Walker's most exciting scenes in the Fast and Furious series took place off the streets entirely; for instance, his ad hoc interruption of Vin Diesel’s torture of a small-time criminal, rescue of the man from his fall to certain death, and subsequent grappling with a rival officer over the mess at hand. In a movie series filled with men twice his size, Paul Walker was still able to emanate some of the highest levels of intensity and intimidation. There’s no amount of muscles that can beat the smolder out of that chiseled glare of his.- Michael Arbeiter
Fast FiveThe Fast and Furious series is essentially a superhero franchise where the heroes are criminals and they hop into armored cars instead of pulling on capes and tights. And to Vin Diesel's broody, Batman-like Dom, Walker was tasked with playing the far less edgy former fed O'Conner. And while the franchise worked best when largely a two-hander between those characters, the best character moment in Fast Five was actually the "Million Dollar Race" between the whole "crew," exemplifying how great direction and chemistry between actors managed to carry over even though each was locked alone in a car.
And that ended up being the key to Walker's character in this series. He's not cool. He's actually pretty goofy and more than a little corny. But therein lies his awkward charm. He looked like a leading man, and held up that mantle efficiently when he was asked to, but his best work was when his enthusiasm was palpable — when he was enjoying the chance to have superpowers and gleefully rib the actors you could believe were his friends.- Kayla Hawkins
Fast & Furious 6While Paul Walker's character displayed most of his talents behind the wheel, he still knew his way around a fight. In a move reminiscent of the show Prison Break, Brian O'Conner purposely threw himself in jail to pay a visit to Arturo Braga, the villain from the first Fast and Furious movie, to learn more about Letty Ortiz's (Michelle Rodriguez) mysterious reappearance. Backed in the corner, and at the mercy of three goons and their prison shivs, Brian dispatches his attackers in one of the film's most brutal and underappreciated fight scenes.- Jordan Smith
If there was ever a summer weekend that had the chance to break into the record books, it is this year's Memorial Weekend which is shaping up to be blockbuster on all levels! Not only do we have three major newcomers hitting the nation's multiplexes, we have a slew of high-powered holdovers still in the mix that could propel the weekend's overall 4-day (Friday through Monday) revenues higher than 2011's record breaking $276.75 million when The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Bridesmaids & Thor took audiences by storm. This year's combo of Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, Epic and the continued strength of Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby and Iron Man 3 will be irresistible to audiences looking for a fun time at the nation's movie theaters over the extended holiday frame.
The new releases (and the overall weekend) should be led by Universal's sixth installment of the massively successful Fast and Furious franchise. A frenetic, fast-paced action film, Fast & Furious 6 is the very definition of the summer popcorn movie and as such will easily draw a massive multi-demographic audience. Featuring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson & Michele Rodriguez and the rest of the popular cast doesn't hurt either. The studio has set expectations for an $80 plus million four-day total, but we think it could go much higher. Either way it should put the peadal to the metal and lead the Memorial weekend hit parade.
Not to be outdone, the Wolfpack is back in the final installment of director Todd Philips Hangover trilogy as Warner Bros.' The Hangover Part III hurls itself back into theaters. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis reprise their roles in the last part of one of the most popular R-rated comedy franchises of all-time. The film got a jump on the weekend generating $3.1 million in Thursday late-night shows and should take in somewhere between $65 and $70 million in its first five days (Thursday through Monday) in theaters.
If that wasn't enough, families will finally get their due with Fox and Blue Sky Studios' original family animated film Epic in 3-D featuring the voices of Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson & Colin Farrell. The marketplace has been in dire need of a PG-rated family film and Epic should fit the bill nicely and grab up about $40 million plus for the holiday weekend.
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MORE: Special Memorial Weekend Stats
With five installments behind it, the opening to Fast & Furious 6 montages us back through the 12 years we've spent with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brain O'Conner (Paul Walker), and the rest of the crew. For fans of the series, it's a nice tribute to the high-octane misadventures that have been speeding across screens for over a decade. For the less acquainted... well, it kind of looks like the opening of a TV series.
Which got us thinking: a Fast & Furious TV series sounds like the perfect way to continue the series once it starts slowing down. Drop some hot rod vehicles into a crime-of-the-week format and — ta da! — must-see TV. To prove this brilliant idea, we've created the opening credits. We imagine Diesel, Walker, and Michelle Rodriguez could all return. Maybe a few special guest stars too...
Seriously: can we get this show now?
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches | Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @Hollywood_com
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We all wish we could zoom around the globe in sleek automobiles, facing off with perfectly toned, immaculately bronzed action heroes on a high-flying mission for some forgettable end game. But it's just such a hassle, isn't it? It'd be so much easier to simply watch big name actors take on these conquests from the comfort of a local multiplex... and easier still, to watch the same big name actors suit up for glitzy gala events on your own computer. Fast & Furious 6, the next turn in the road raging franchise, opens later this month, and its cast is assembling for the film's red carpet event on Tuesday.
Below, you can watch a live stream of the event starting at 12:30 PM ET, where you'll find the likes of Fast 6 stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Michelle Rodriguez in signficantly more prim and proper get-ups than we'll be seeing on the big screen. Check out the video, and catch Fast 6 in theaters on May 24.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Although it’s the fourth one in the series it plays almost like a direct sequel to the first with ex-con and fugitive Dominic Toretto and now-agent Brian O’Connor reluctantly reunited by the death of a friend and a mutual quest to stop a sociopathic drug kingpin from bringing tons of his product into the U.S. To do this they must infiltrate a group that moves heroin across the border through a series of dangerous and almost impenetrable caves.
WHO’S IN IT?
For Fast and the Furious fans this fourth edition is nirvana bringing all four of the original stars back together led by Vin Diesel as the firebrand Dominic and Paul Walker as the reformed Brian who has now moved to the other side of the law. Basically required to utter a few phrases and chase bad guys for two hours while letting their stuntmen do the heavy lifting behind the wheel these two are like watching a couple of old pros back doing what they do best. Let’s face it: Neither one of their careers was exactly burning up the movie business so this move suits them well and they look great in the parts. Also back is Jordana Brewster as Mia Dom’s sister and Brian’s love interest and Michelle Rodriguez as the tough-as-nails Letty Dom’s girlfriend.
It’s the STUNTS stupid. What else would you go to this speed-fest for? And they are bigger and more elaborate than ever as director Justin Lin (Tokyo Drift) knows fans expect. The almost nonstop demolition derby is so full of vrooooom-and-zoom sounds and visual effects that it’s dizzying after a while. But they are undeniably well-executed turning this edition into an experience that’s more like a NASCAR event than a movie.
Sad to say the acting levels haven’t really ramped up in the decade this franchise has been percolating but it won’t matter for fans who come strictly for the action. Some of those action set pieces though are awfully contrived and bordering on cartoon-ish.
Easily the sequence where Dom and Brian must penetrate mountainous caves which have tricky and winding rocky raceways carved throughout. It’s ludicrous but lots of fun — like taking a ride on a real Space Mountain. An earlier scene where Brian relies on his GPS device for directions during a high-speed chase also gets the adrenaline going.
BEST PIECE OF LIFE ADVICE:
“I learned nothing really matters unless you have a code.” Or was that a Coke? It’s hard to tell with all the sound effects.
This turbo-charged film centers on street racing and the people who live for it. Dominic Toretto (the aptly named Vin Diesel) is one of them rebuilding high performance racecars by day and racing by night. Since the money he makes for winning a race (up to $10 000) barely covers his overhead costs Toretto and his band of staunch followers supplement their incomes by hijacking electronics-filled 18-wheelers. The FBI which has narrowed down the suspects to either Toretto or his arch rival Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) sends in undercover officer Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) to get the evidence they need and arrest the right guy. O'Connor gets a job at a local high-end auto supply store and soon infiltrates Toretto's gang despite repeated warnings from its leader's steadfast cronies. He wins Toretto's respect and after predictably falling for his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) begins to question his loyalties. It's a stale story line with all the typical elements but who cares? In The Fast and the Furious the story is a mere formality.
Most of the actors in this film have been typecast but for once that's not a limiting thing. It almost seems as though Diesel (Boiler Room Pitch Black) was born to play commandeering ringleader Dominic Toretto. With his gravelly baritone voice and menacing screen presence he dominates every scene he is in. Unfortunately the script calls for him to utter obvious lines like "You break her heart I'll break your neck." Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight) is in her element as his cagey girlfriend but could almost be mistaken for a rottweiler on a leash. She scowls and glares over the rim of her shades one too many times but demonstrates once again that she can pack a mean punch. There is a small but surprisingly funny performance by Chad Lindberg as Jesse the mechanical genius whose ADD drove him to a life of crime. But Walker (The Skulls) is as bland as his white-bread character O'Connor and the object of his affection Mia (Brewster The Invisible Circus) is equally unimpressive. But as with the story The Fast and the Furious is not about the acting.
Furious makes up for what it lacks intellectually with pure and unadulterated action. The overly choreographed scenes of cars driving in V-formations are eclipsed by the cars themselves which are the highlight of the film. The race sequences alone will practically leave you feeling compressed and the souped-up Nissans Hondas and Toyotas will make this film an instant cult classic within the car culture. Craig Lieberman one of the import car consultants on the film even provided his own 1994 Toyota Supra--complete with Greddy Turbo and NOS nitrous upgrades three TV screens VCR Sony Play Station 19" Dazz wheels and a $7 000 custom paint job. If the car didn't actually belong to a real person it might be too decadent to be believed. All in all Furious is a dizzying frenzy of noise and speed that serves up what films like Gone in 60 Seconds and Driven promise but never come close to delivering. Despite its screeching drag races and hair-raising crashes Furious probably won't appeal to the masses but expect it to fly when it gets released on DVD.
Mainstream A-list guy Denzel Washington in a Cassavetes movie? Yup. The film's called "John Q." And the Cassavetes is Nick, the directing son of indie icon John.
Reports today say Washington is a lock to star in "John Q," a drama about a regular John Q. Public who goes postal over (what else?) a health insurance snafu.
DOES THIS GUY EVER STOP MAKING MOVIES? No. Today's Hollywood Reporter says the ubiquitous John Travolta will next insert his mug into "Domestic Disturbance," about a guy who grows suspicious of his son's new stepdad.
APPARENTLY DOESN'T TAKE AFTER HER HUSBAND: Kelly Preston (aka Mrs. John Travolta) has dropped out of the Richard Rodriguez action-comedy "Spy Game" with Antonio Banderas. Preston gave birth to the couple's second child April 3.
MORE FUN STUFF: Haley Joel Osment, last seen as a tormented tot in "The Sixth Sense," will co-star with Willem Dafoe in "Edges of the Lord," a World War II drama about a little Jewish boy (Osment) terrorized by the Nazis.