Fast and the Furious star Paul Walker may live on through films

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Film fans worldwide were stunned when “Fast and the Furious” star Paul Walker died in a car crash in a moment of cruel irony.

Walker was in the middle of filming the seventh film in the robust movie franchise.

Not only will he missed by his own family, but the family he gained in the 10-plus years he played Brian O’Conner.

Universal Studios, to its credit, has been classy about how its handled this tragedy.

First, the company halted production of the seventh film to let the cast and crew mourn.

Second, a portion of the sales of the “Fast 6” DVD, which went on sell this week, will go towards Walker’s Charity “Reach Out Worldwide.”

It was the charity that Walker attended a benefit for on the day he died.

As a film fan I was shocked by Walker’s sudden death in the same way I was when I found out Heath Ledger died.

But the film fan in me has been left wondering.

What happens now?

When Ledger died he had finished all of his work on “The Dark Knight,” so it didn’t significantly alter production.

With Walker, the newest “Fast” movie was just over the middle point in the shoot.

“The Crow” experienced much of the same thing when its star Brandon Lee died on set from an accidental gunshot.

Yet the film still was completed thanks to clever editing and use of stunt doubles.

People are assuming the filmmakers will just kill off Walker’s character.

That’s unimaginative and tasteless.

Given that the film is about high-speed pursuits, I think the choice of killing him off would hit too close to home.

I say either they find a way to finish the film with what they have without killing off Brian or, and this is far more expensive of an idea, scrap all the footage with his character and reshoot the film under the idea that after the ending of “Fast 6,” the character is done with the criminal life and is settling down with his wife and new baby.

That way while the man may be gone, his character will live on, but never have to be utilized.

“The Fast and the Furious” series has now become Universal Studios highest grossing franchise surpassing the “Jurassic Park” movies.

I first criticized the series as being “Point Break,” with cars instead of surfboards and less Patrick Swayze, but it’s grown into much more.

The last two films, in particular, abandoned the series’ original tropes of illegal street racing for an excuse to watch charming criminals perform insane heists and stunts while trying to get the better of the law and rivals.

It has become one of the last bastions of well-made, non-pretentious actions films with the goal of entertaining.