And so it is: Brian O'Conner is retiring. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio has decided to "retire" Paul Walker's Fast and Furious character instead of killing him off. The movie will feature footage of Walker that was shot before his untimely and tragic death, and the script has been reworked to include the "Brian O'Conner retires" storyline.
When initial reports came out that the studio wasn't sure what to do with the footage featuring Walker, it was upsetting to read, to say the least. The money factor aside, there shouldn't be any question as to whether or not they'd use that footage. This might be a bloated reaction, but the movie would feel weird without the footage. I would even argue that it'd be disrespectful to not use it. Using the existing material isn't exploitative, it's a great way to honor his life and career.
Fortunately, it looks like he won't be left out, after all. And the choice to have him "retire" rather than kill him off is the quietest option. Given how intense Walker's real-life death was, a soft, not-intense exit from the film is a commendable choice.
The release date for Fast and Furious 7 has been pushed back to April 10, 2015.