I Am Begging the Fast and Furious Movies to Finally Kill Off Some Characters

The series now has way too many characters. Some of them should die! Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos: Universal Pictures

Late-period Fast and Furious movies run on two fundamental principles. Every villain must eventually turn good, and everyone who is killed must eventually come back. As a result, the series has gotten itself into a predictable conundrum: There are way too many characters. Some of them should die!

By my count, Fast X features a whopping 14 actors who make significant contributions to the plot. Nine are returners: three mainstays from the first film (Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster); four good guys added over the course of installments two through seven (Tyrese, Ludacris, Sung Kang, and Nathalie Emmanuel); and two former bad guys (Charlize Theron and John Cena). The other five are new characters: Jason Momoa as the villain, Alan Ritchson as a secondary antagonist, Brie Larson as an ally, Leo Abelo Perry as Dom’s son, and Daniela Melchior as the sister of another character from the Fast mythos. As always in the Fast universe, soap plotting prevails.

Then there are the cameos: a pair of Oscar-winning actresses in Helen Mirren and Rita Moreno, another redeemed baddie in Jason Statham, plus Pete Davidson for reasons unknown. Throw in Scott Eastwood, who’s just kinda there again, and the two other returning cast members whose names would constitute spoilers — though come on, you can probably guess — and this movie features nearly enough humans to fill out the starting lineups of two opposing NFL teams.

Even I, a person who is preternaturally gifted at telling various bald, muscled men apart from one another, must admit this is far too many people. Servicing such a large cast mandates that Fast X be at least four different movies at the same time. Vin Diesel is in a faith-based film about man’s search for meaning in a sleeveless universe. John Cena is in a family comedy from the early 2010s, Jason Momoa a SpikeTV remake of Queer Eye. Ludacris and Tyrese are in a workplace sitcom that has over 200 episodes on a streaming service you’ve never heard of. Keeping so many balls in the air has clearly exhausted the film’s writers. In one five-minute stretch, they give us a gag about weed-laced baked goods that has no punch line and a gag about BDSM that has no setup. We must ease their labor by killing off 25, perhaps 30 percent of the cast.

The only character off limits is Paul Walker’s Brian, whom the franchise understandably kept alive after Walker’s tragic death in 2013. That choice has resulted in weird scenes like the one in Fast X where Diesel’s Dom stares mournfully at a shrine he’s set up for Brian, while the piano line from “See You Again” plays, despite the fact that Brian is canonically very much alive. Characters are always noting that Brian has just left a scene 30 seconds before it begins, and though the new film’s plot revolves around Momoa’s villain being able to track the Fast family anywhere on the globe, they take pains to mention that Brian’s safe house is the one that’s super-duper safe. It would have made sense to write his character out of the franchise completely, as the end of the seventh film suggested, but that would’ve meant getting rid of Brewster, too. So we’re left with a character who is constantly mentioned but never seen, who never impacts the story — and it will have to stay that way, because it’d be ghoulish to kill him off at this point.

But everyone else is fair game. And it’s not as if this is a universe where characters dying is implausible! The opening set piece of Fast X has them racing through the streets of Rome trying to defuse a neutron bomb. I don’t know what a neutron bomb is, but it sounds like it could probably kill you. In the last one, they went into space. You know how many real people have died trying to get to space? 15. And that’s just NASA astronauts, people who trained their entire lives for the gig. These characters should spend 45 minutes in every movie attending various funerals. I’ve taken the liberty of brainstorming — for free, even though there’s a strike on, which should show you how much I care — a few ways we can cull the herd:

– car crash (single-car)

– car crash (multi-car)

– bullet

– explosion (from an exploding car)

– explosion (from a bomb)

– explosion (from a missile)

– building demolition

– blunt-force trauma

– cardiac arrest

– alcohol poisoning (too many Coronas)

The possibilities are endless!

Now, in Fast X’s defense, the movie does take baby steps toward pruning the cast list by (apparently) killing off one character. However, it’s immediately undone by someone else coming back from the dead, so we’re at net zero. This will not do. More people gotta die!

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The Fast and Furious Movies Should Kill Off Some Characters