“Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw” is the first spin-off movie from the Fast and Furious (FNF) franchise and it’s everything we love about going to the movies and then some.
Starring Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) and Jason Statham as frenemies that must team up to save the world from a nasty virus.
Big action scenes paired with insulting comedic banter, move the film along at light speed for the first 90 minutes. It’s the last half hour, yes it’s 2 hours and 16 minutes long, when it becomes laborious.
A MI6 agent, presumed turn-coat, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) goes on the run carrying a virus inside herself that has a fatal expiration date not only for herself but the entire world. To avoid a pandemic the virus must be safely removed. Queue the ambiguous bad guy which is really a fatalistic corporation called Eteon. They want the virus so they can reshape humanity for purposes unknown. Eteon front-man, Brixton (Idris Elba), is tasked with doing whatever it takes to get the virus back to his maker. He’s some sort of human enhanced terminator with eyes that sometimes glow orange. Call in Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and British teammate Shaw (Jason Statham) who are forced to work together but are more interested in beating in each other’s heads than trying to rescue Hattie and of course, saving the world. Hobbs points out jokingly, that he’s done it three times already reaffirming his role in the previous FNF films.
“Hobb’s & Shaw,” as an action film, totally works. As expected, there are the titular bigger than life action sequences, fantastic vehicles including a remote-controlled motorcycle and chase scene that will blow your mind, awe inspiring fight choreography, and witty one-upping dialogue from Johnson and Statham that will have you laughing out loud. Hobbs & Shaw could even be one-upping the Fast and Furious franchise with the addition of casting Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret on “The Crown), who has a way of portraying sexy and capable without being overt, a rarity in Hollywood.
Where the film severely lacks is in the character development of the villains. Eteon is controlled by some sort of AI that is mostly an annoying computer voice that says little and misses out on injecting fear or angst into the story. There are moments when the script attempts to give Brixton enough back story to make him have some sort of dimensional depth and motivation but squeaks by with saying something like he owes the AI for saving him from 2 bullets to the head or some such. Could have been worse and could have been better. Vague is a better description. Outcome is a weak antagonist character and no real motivation.
Because of the script’s failure on the villain’s character development, the film misfires in this aspect and takes a back seat to the action and laughs coming from the main cast. The imbalance while noticeable doesn’t squash the overall story. One detail that presents itself in the film not included in past FNF films is more about Shaw’s back story as a special forces officer which was a positive to the overall story arc of all the films.
Adding to the already proven recipe for Hollywood success for FNF is the appearance of returning alum Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and comedic star Kevin Hart that both bring just the right amount of hilarity to the action-heavy story for brief moments; and also returning character Quennie (Helen Mirren) as Shaw’s mother who is in prison. She delivers her own special brand of comedic levity playing up her previous character’s wiley sense of humour even from prison.
Reynolds as a loud mouthed CIA agent handler, that says wildly inappropriate comments to Hobbs’ daughter while explaining the urgency of the mission is entertaining in parts and sequenced at just the right time to provide situational levity when the implausible but worthy action scenes almost become mind numbing; especially the last half hour where the film goes to the next level of ridiculous (and that’s saying a lot coming from the previous FNF films).
The addition of the character Sky Marshall Dinkley, played by Kevin Hart, is comedic gold; even when he makes that same ol’ joke, you know the one, the one about his height because that never gets old, or does it? His character helps Hobbs & Shaw relocate from Moscow and then in the miraculous blink of an eye with movie magic, the cast appears in Samoa in a bad ass truck jeep vehicle. The film should have ended right there, but of course it goes on for a crescendo of explosions where traditional tribal weapons and cricket bats beat bullets (because guns are bad), and there are no close-ups of anyone dying, and there is no blood despite the pummeling of the bad guys. But hey it’s just a popcorn film so you can’t be too judgy or critical.
Like any film of this genre and those that specifically came before it, you can’t take Hobbs & Shaw too seriously. Fans are going to show up for the visual stunts, futuristic and tricked out vehicles, and farfetched, cartoon-like story that has that amazing ability to transport you away from the mundane and into a world that doesn’t require a lot of thought. If that’s your idea of why you like to go to the movies, then “Hobbs & Shaw” certainly does that. Despite the weak villain, the fast moving story and comedic performances make this spin-off worthy of the Fast and Furious name.
- Visual stunts with futuristic and tricked out vehicles.
- Comedic performances
- Fast moving story
- Weak, underdeveloped villain