The Fast & Furious franchise has evolved over the course of seven films, but the formula has remained largely intact: outlaws in fast cars fighting even worse outlaws in sometimes faster cars, against the backdrop of exotic locales and over-the-top action. 2015's Furious 7 overcame the tragic loss of star Paul Walker to great success and new opportunities for the franchise as a whole.
The series' next entry is 2017's Fast 8, with Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray at the helm. Gray's resume has similarly themed action spectacles like The Italian Job to his credit, but has spoken about bringing something fresh to the long-running, profitable franchise.
While it may shoot partially in Cuba, star Vin Diesel recently confirmed the film's New York City setting. Now, the actor has released the first image from the film (via his Instagram account) in the form of a poster with the tagline "New Roads Ahead." Take a look below:
The poster places New York front and center, which at first glance seems like a significant departure from the globe-trotting set pieces of the previous entries. We can definitely expect the franchise's familiar elements. And according to a report by We Got This Covered, we can also expect a blast from the franchise's past to return.
Lost River star Eva Mendes -- who played Monica Fuentes in 2 Fast 2 Furious and a Fast Five cameo -- is reportedly returning for Fast 8. Vin Diesel and director F. Gary Gray evidently want to test the potential for future spinoffs starring Mendes, with an apparent overall intention of establishing a shared universe for the series.
Universal has not confirmed any of this, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, given the retirement of Paul Walker's character Brian O'Connor and the return of several of the franchise's past favorites -- Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson and newcomers like Jason Statham -- adding a new (familiar) element like the always-welcome Mendes could prove an effective way to help move the Fast & Furious series into the "trilogy" Diesel has discussed.
Between Gray as director and New York as locale, it is reasonable for fans to expect maybe a harder edge to Fast 8. The teased return of Mendes for a potential spinoff points toward the real changes in store, in the form a shared universe über-franchise. Dwayne Johnson has already discussed the potential of a spinoff based on his character Hobbs, with makes this news sound more than plausible.
Fast 8 will hit U.S. theaters on April 17th, 2017.