After all the confusion and rumors it has become official: F. Gary Gray is directing Fast & Furious 8, and the film, as per a tweet from the director, has a release date of April 15, 2017.
Gray was the frontrunner for the job and I was very surprised by that - every story I had heard about A Man Apart indicated that Gray had a not-so-great experience with Vin Diesel (this is not that uncommon, by the way. There's a reason James Wan bolted). But it seems like the filmmaker was able to get over any past problems and embrace all new ones. It's hard to imagine that Vin is going to be particularly easy-going on this entry, as the focus of the series has irrefutably shifted to his character in the wake of Paul Walker's death.
This makes us ask a simple question: has the Fast & Furious series peaked? It's hard to imagine any entry having the energy and surprise of Fast 5 at this point, and I don't know how you top the sheer emotion of Furious 7. Vin's insistence on making Dom the Christ/Father figure of the franchise has resulted in some of the worst moments of the series in Furious 7. Sure, we forgave them because Walker's tragic death forced a lot of reshuffling of that film, but I'm worried that a Dom-heavy story is going to be the standard from here on out. I fear this.
But I will remain hopeful. Gray is a fine action filmmaker, and with Straight Outta Compton (at least in the first half) he perfectly captured the family dynamic that made us love the Fast & Furious series in the first place. Here's hoping.