Last year, Vin Diesel stormed the MTV Movie Awards stage and paid tribute to his brother
Pablo Paul Walker with a heartfelt rendition of Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's "See You Again," the emotional track that closes out Furious 7.
There's a moment in Furious 7 where Dom (Diesel) says, "I don't got friends. I got family." And that's what Walker was to Diesel. He was family.
This year, Furious 7 is up for two Golden Popcorns, and while we fully expect Diesel to hold his own among his fellow nominees for Best Action Performance -- can you break a parking garage with your foot? -- it's the nom for Ensemble Cast that Furious 7 deserves to win. To fully understand why, we need to start at the beginning.
The Fast and the Furious was the runaway hit no one saw coming. Released in 2001, the high-octane flick followed a group of illegal street racers, their burly leader Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), and an undercover cop who immerses himself into their world of Race Wars and engine grease to figure out who’s behind a string of truck hijackings. It was a fun, rubber-burning thrill-ride that didn’t take itself too seriously -- something that all Fast movies have in common.
But there was something about Furious 7, the most recent entry in the Fast and Furious franchise, that transcended all of that.
It's not just that the action scenes were the most kinetic and exciting sequences seen on screen in 2015 -- but seriously, was there anything better than a ragtag group of street racers dropping thousands of feet out of an airplane, then immediately getting into a high speed car chase upon hitting the ground? What made Furious 7 special was that it paid tribute to the franchise's roots with grace and respect because at the end of the day, regardless of how many drones Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson can shoot down single-handedly, Fast and Furious will always about family.
For Dom Toretto, no bond is greater than family. It's an underlining theme in each and every Fast film. And Dom's OG crew of small-time criminals in The Fast and the Furious is where it all began: Leticia "Letty" Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) -- Dom's girlfriend and adrenaline-junkie badass in her own right -- Vince (Matt Schulze), Leon (Johnny Strong), Jesse (Chad Lindberg), and Dom's little sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). They were Dom's familia, and 1327 was their home.
Over the years, Dom's family has gone through ups and downs. They've celebrated new additions and mourned the loss of their own -- Jesse, Gisele, Han... Brian.
Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) started the franchise as the outsider, but it didn’t take long for him to become part of Dom's family, too. His romance with Mia may have expedited his initiation into the fam, but Brian would have become Dom’s brother regardless. When Brian handed over the keys to his 10-second car, he cemented his place as Dom's brother. They were kindred spirits, living life a quarter-mile at a time.
The Fast and The Furious did more than kick off a successful franchise; it created a family, a family that suffered a tremendous loss with the untimely passing of Walker. But Furious 7 was so much more than a beautiful sendoff for Walker and O'Connor. It was an homage to the franchise's humble roots in the streets in east LA -- where undercover LAPD officer Brian O'Connor first walked into Toretto's Market and asked Mia for a tuna sandwich. (The tuna was garbage; the company was not.)
Those roots, as Dom likes to say, are all about family. In 2015, over a decade after it all began, we all became part of Dom's family, too. And there's no greater ensemble than family.
So, in honor of Walker and the Fast family around the world, let's give Dom and co. our votes. Voting closes on March 20, 2016.