Morgan may very well be thetruest and most consistent action blockbuster screenwriter of the past 20 years, but with this eighth installment he writes himself into a tight corner, with a story that can only go in so many directions once he’s established for the hero a leverage that’s too valuable—even untouchable. And thus, whatever comes afterwards must either follow a reasonable outcome or become unbelievable. As far-fetched as some of these plots have been—let alone their stunts—the one thing that Fast & Furious has kept grounded are its characters. However, with F8, it has a difficult time doing even that. However, the writer, along with Gray, still finds those iconic Fast & Furious moments along the way, such as the amazing opening street race, which perfectly embodies the “It doesn’t matter what’s under a hood. The only thing that matters is who’s behind the wheel” credo, or Jason Statham entertainingly talking to a baby during a shootout in an homage to Hard Boiled, or the welltimed car-shield during the climax.
Gray also directs one of the best non-car action sequences of the entire series with the prison brawl early on, with brilliant fight choreography, appropriate amounts of speed ramping, and fantastic physical performances by Dwayne Johnson, Statham, and literally every background actor involved.
If any of these movies have abandoned the original Fast formula, this one has, perhaps due to the fact that it’s the first without Paul Walker’s Brian. F8 is probably most similar to Fast & Furious 4 in both its darker tone and the lone-wolfing of Dom. However, where Dom had Brian at his side in the 2009 film, whether he wanted him there or not, he’s literally isolated here and it’s unsettling.