Who else cried at the end of Furious 7? If you didn’t, I’m guessing you either didn’t see the movie or are an emotionless pod person. For those of you who did cry, how many people laughed or teased you about it?

When I returned from seeing Furious 7, eyes still a bit misty, I proudly announced to my roommates how I had cried. The ending was thoroughly emotional, and I felt no shame in the equally emotional reaction Furious 7’s ending pulled out of me. It was beautiful, and more importantly, honest and sincere. A true send off from a group of people who had just lost a dear friend.

One of my roommates, however, didn’t quite get it. “You cried over a Fast & Furious movie?” he asked, brows furrowed in honest confusion. What followed was a good ten to fifteen minutes of playful ribbing and jokes. All of which boiled down to one singular incredulous question on their part: why would you cry over a Fast & Furious movie?

Why indeed?

Official Poster for Furious 7 property of University Studios

The Fast and the Furious franchise is by no means quality film-making in the critical sense. Meaning, it will never win any award higher than an MTV movie award. The plots of all the movies are strung together through a series of car chases, explosions, clunky dialogue, and muscle popping fight scenes, all of which is held together by a strong cord of suspended disbelief on the audience’s part.

This isn’t anything particularly new; most action movies are based in a world where people can do impossible things and outright defy the laws of physics. Furious 7 makes good use of that disbelief, stretching the cord as far as they can possibly can go. The previous Fast & Furious movies have all stretched that same cord, because the franchise is, in a word, ridiculous. Unashamedly so in fact, which is why some peoplelike my well meaning roommateare having trouble understanding why groups of people are crying over Furious 7’s ending. It’s a Fast & Furious movie, the latest in a long line of movies about car chases. Everyone knows The Fast and the Furious franchise isn’t good, but we all love it anyway.

Because whilst ridiculous in every sense of the word, The Fast and the Furious movies are also very sincere. In every honest, true way imaginable. The franchise is well aware of it’s own reputation. Embracing the outright outrageous nature of the stunts, car chases, fight scenes, and plots. Going higher and higher each movie, reaching new heights of head shaking laughability.

So why the tears? Why are so many fans openly admitting to being moved to tears by Furious 7’s ending?

Because while the Fast & Furious franchise is outrageous in the best ways possible, and while the movies are action films in the truest sense, they are also movies about family. Family has always, since The Fast and the Furious release in 2000, been a major theme of the movies.

We recently had a rewatch of the entire Fast & Furious franchise on Twitter to celebrate Furious 7’s release. When watching all the movies in order, it’s amazing to see what they’ve done, how they built up a universe filled with a strong diverse cast, set all over the world, built on the premise of high speed car chases and elaborate heists, centered around the ideals of family and familial love.

That genuine sincerity is what shines in those final moments of Furious 7. It’s what moved audiences to tears.

There’s a tragic irony throughout the entire movie. It begins with Han’s (Sung Kang) funeral and Roman’s (Tyrese Gibson) line, “No more funerals.” It ends with Brian’s (Paul Walker) last line of the franchise, “Hey, thought you could leave without saying goodbye?” The irony is that there was a very real life funeral and a very tragic goodbye. In the final moments of the film, Brian plays happily on the beach with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their son Jack, while the rest of their family—Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman, Tej (Ludacris), Dom (Vin Diesel), and newbie Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel)—watch on.

The camera, however, focuses on Dom, Letty, Roman, and Tej as the characters and actors bleed together in a powerful moment of true, raw emotion.

There are tears in Rodriguez’s eyes that don’t quite match the scene itself, as the scene is full of life and hope for the future, but the reality is the acknowledgment of the tragic passing of a years long friend. The bittersweet acceptance of that passing, and the pain of having to saying goodbye to a dear friend forever.

Rodriguez has openly cried when asked about Walker, Gibson was photographed crying at Paul Walker’s memorial, Diesel named his recently born daughter, Pauline—after Walker—and had to walk off set during an interview when speaking of his departed friend.

The emotion in the scene is very real, as Rodriguez, Diesel, Gibson, and Ludacris gaze out into the distance as if seeing the ghost of their friend, Paul Walker.

GIF credit to domsletty.tumblr.com

The Fast and the Furious franchise is full of holes, wildly unbelievable stunts, a complete disregard for physics, and way too many objectifying shots of women; however, the franchise is also very sincere in its belief in family, a belief that is emphasized in those final moments, as Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s sing “See You Again” while Brian and Dom race each other one final time. It feels final. The movies have always promised “one last ride,” but we all knew it wouldn’t be the last one, whether because you were a cynic and knew Universal would never stop backing a sure money maker or because you just knew the characters couldn’t resist one more ride.

This one is final. As Dom’s monologues about family, life, and hope over a montage of Walker’s previous scenes throughout the entire Fast & Furious franchise, and Charlie Puth sings a somber, “We’ve come a long way/from where we began,” it’s … hard. Seeing a fresh faced Paul Walker, with terrible late 90s highlights in his hair, smiling happily in previous movies. Wiz Khalifa raps out a touching and painfully appropriate, “How can we not talk about family when family’s all that we got?”

I imagine the final moments of Furious 7 were originally very different. With Dom and Brian having one more race, that one last ride, but with the promise of one more in the future. The open ending of Jason Statham’s character, Ian Shaw, suggests this. That Furious 7 wasn’t meant to be the family’s last ride. But it was, it most likely is, and while the ending of Furious 7 definitely feels like the closing chapter, it doesn’t feel tragic—it feels cathartic.

GIF credit to ezrafitz.tumblr.com

It feels like a real-life family, paying a real life tribute to their brother and friend. To coming together, grieving together, and finding peace together. The ending of Furious 7 is very open, very real, and very raw. It’s emotion, sincerity, a mix of tragedy and acceptance, and a goodbye with such love it was moving to witness.

That’s why audiences cried, why I’m crying just writing this. My roommate who teased me about crying asked me another question: had I ever seen Walker in any other movies?

Honestly? I haven’t. I can’t truly say I was a major fan, that I followed his career religiously. Yet that’s simply a testament of how powerful the ending of Furious 7 is. It wasn’t really about me, as a viewer, but about the cast and crew who lost a family member. The losing of someone irreplaceable in their lives and the sharing of their grief—open, honest, and real. The sharing of their last love letter to their friend Paul Walker. I’m grateful to have witnessed it.

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Dom’s last line of the movie, “You’ll always be with me, and you’ll always be my brother,” isn’t just Dom talking about Brian, but Diesel talking about Walker himself. The opening up of a very real life tragedy that affected them all in very real ways. The Fast and the Furious franchise has always made a point about family, and the ending of Furious 7 is a tribute to a family member lost. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried.

As of April 17th, Furious 7 passed 1 billion dollars in ticket sales making it one of the fastest selling movies of all time. Surpassing records set by The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, and even James Cameron’s Avatar, all of which took about nineteen days to reach 1 billion in sales. If that’s not a brilliant showing of the sheer power of The Fast and the Furious franchise I’m not sure what is. If anything, these numbers show that people are flocking to this wonderfully diverse series about fast cars, big heists, and family.

That heart The Fast and the Furious series embodies, from its self-aware attitude and approach to its unashamed stunts, and above all else, the family focused theme, is what made people cry at the end of Furious 7, and I’m so grateful they chose to share that with us.