Late action star’s films were a summertime treat

Ben Conniff

Coming off a long workday on Black Friday in which I started a shift at 4:30 a.m., I knew it was going to take at least a day to fully recover.

But my post-Thanksgiving recuperation was interrupted on Saturday by the sudden news that Paul Walker, a key cast member in “The Fast and The Furious” movie franchise, died in a car accident in Valencia, Santa Clarita, Calif.

Walker, and professionally trained race car driver Roger Rodas, eased into a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT after a charity event and set out on a short test drive with Rodas behind the wheel.

Less than a mile from where the event was held, the Porsche ricocheted off a concrete pole and then slammed into a tree before bursting into flames.

It was difficult to hear that the “Fast and Furious” star had passed after a brutal car accident. For me, I initially took the news of Walker’s death with a grain of salt — it sounded like a headline from The Onion or another one of those stupid Twitter celebrity death hoaxes, like Adam Sandler’s fatal snowboarding accident.

Once the rumors were finally confirmed, I felt shaken to my core.

I never viewed Walker as a bastion of acting prowess. He wasn’t going to be at the Oscars any time soon.

But since I grew up enjoying him in the “Fast and Furious” movies, I feel like I’ve lost a friend.

In middle school, I spent countless summer afternoons watching “2 Fast 2 Furious” after going to the pool with friends.

Walker didn’t star in “Tokyo Drift,” the series’ third installment, but my friends and I liked making the connections to the two previous films.

When Walker returned to action in the fourth film, I went with those same friends from middle school to see it.

We were all disappointed because “Fast and Furious” was such a grim departure from the gleeful adrenaline rush of the original street races.

Then the series started to truly embrace its far-fetched nature in “Fast Five” and “Fast and Furious 6” — the series’ most entertaining films to date.

I couldn’t wait to see what Walker had in store for us in “Fast and Furious 7.”

With shooting over halfway finished before the time of Walker’s passing, Universal Pictures has since suspended production in order to determine the fate of the franchise.

Walker was quoted as saying, “if one day the speed kills me, do not cry because I was smiling.”