After all, O’Conner is – as Dominic Toretto puts it – “family.”
The reviews are in – as Fast Nine cruised past its competition with a record-breaking box office performance in North America, questions regarding the Fast Saga’s future also abound. How will the next couple of films – which are meant to be the franchise’s final ones – be able to top the automobile-crushing action scenes in the last one? Where will they take on their next enemies now that they’ve gone to space? And most importantly, will Brian O’Conner be back to cap off the saga?
Indeed, Fast Nine gave a bigger nod to Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) ride-or-die partner than it did during the eighth installment. Paul Walker’s character was last seen driving off into the sunset during a scene in Furious 7 which, following the actor’s tragic death, used more than 350 CGI shots of Walker to make it happen. This, while the film showed a montage of Walker’s O’Conner throughout the Fast films, also known as the moment when real men collectively cried in cinemas.
He was acknowledged during Fate of the Furious though, but it was briefer than the mention he had during F9. (SPOILERS AHEAD!) During the timeless barbeque scene towards the ending of the film, Toretto stops his sister Mia from saying grace because “there’s still an empty chair.” Mia then says that “he’s on the way,” right before O’Conner’s Skyline R34 GT-R – the same car he drove in Fast & Furious – pulls into the driveway. Before we could see O’Conner’s face, the credit conveniently rolls.
So is it impossible? As we’ve seen in other films like Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker which also used CGI to complete Carrie Fisher’s scenes, it isn’t impossible.
What’s more, Han’s surprise return after his on-screen death after Furious 7 has led some fans to hope that a complete reunion of the crew is looming, perhaps even due, for the last two films.
In an interview with Variety, long-time Fast director Justin Lin shared his thoughts regarding O’Conner’s future in the franchise:
“The idea of Brian O’Connor still alive in this universe, it’s very impactful and it’s very important. When we talk about Fast 9, this is the first time for me creatively approaching it not as just the one film. In the past, I’ve always felt like, we’re lucky enough to do one, let’s do everything we can.
But Vin finally talked me into it, you know, when I came back, he’s like, ‘Well, let’s think about it as a final chapter.’ So Fast 9 is really the beginning of the final chapter of the saga.
So in doing that, I think there’s a lot of room to really place our characters, and Brian obviously is a big part of the universe still.”
So Lin is willing to cash in on the idea of bringing back Brian, and so are the rest of the crew, who have expressed their interest to have O’Conner join them in the saga’s last two-film swansong.
If the prospect is green-lit and they manage to pull it off, then Fast 10 and 11 should be the most satisfying climax to a decade-long car chase.