When Fast and Furious is attached to your title, you already know what to expect. In Hobbs and Shaw, a hulking big man and a stylish British guy team up to drive big trucks, smash people and make things explode.
Just another day at the office.
This review will be spoiler free.
Imposing DSS lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and criminal outcast Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are called in to form an unlikely alliance to track down Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), Deckard’s estranged sister. Hattie is also being pursued by Brixton (Idris Elba), a bio-mechanical powerhouse who threatens humanity’s future.
I’ve been a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise since the first film. Throughout the highs and lows, I’ve been ride or die with this universe and its characters. It might not make sense in the long run, but this franchise hasn’t been known for fascinating story arcs. They are great, dumb fun movies where you can turn your brain off, get into the backseat and enjoy the Nos-fueled ride. Films like The Fast and the Furious are pleasant distractions from the usual challenging characters and thought-provoking plots or arcs.
In a franchise where cars evade cops while dragging several ton vaults and parachuting out of airplanes, there shouldn’t be much seriousness put into the plot. Guided by director David Leitch, this movie makes sure to enjoy its own over-the-top action. The plot consists of a bevy of government nonsense which has become a staple of the recent Fast and Furious movies, which didn’t seem to fit the films; especially considering how the series started. Hobbs and Shaw differentiates itself by making sense of the nonsense that is happening on screen with two characters that fit the profile. Two staples of the Fast franchise – bikini-clad ladies and fast cars – are not as dominant here and that brings a welcome relief, knowing they aren’t a main focus.
The action sequences are enjoyable, filled with the usual explosions and slow-motion moments. The hand-to-hand fights between the dysfunctional duo and Brixton were given the majority of the slow-motion effects, people making funny faces when getting hit. Johnson and Statham are clearly having a great time slinging insults at one another for a combined fifteen minutes of the total runtime. Despite the seriousness that the recent installments have tried to plug into the franchise, Hobbs and Shaw knows that you are only sitting in the theaters to see The Rock and Jason Statham exchange insults and fists for two hours, so they don’t waste too much time getting into that.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is arguably the biggest star in the business right now and one of the busiest, filming movies one on top of another. When does this man give himself a break? Having growing up watching him layin’ the smackdown on fools in the ring for years, I’m proud to see the charisma and charm relocate to Hollywood. Watching this movie, I felt like I was seeing the in-ring persona once again as Hobbs trash-talked Shaw by sprinkling some Rock-like digs from WWE days of yesterday. But that’s what makes the Rock so likable: despite his clangin’ and bangin’ hulking figure, smashing the bad guys, he can still make you laugh.
Jason Statham’s Shaw is suave and precise to Hobbs’ heavy-handed approach. Statham gives a subtle touch and sensibility as the character that’s so smooth, you don’t mind watching the Brit taking on multiple bad guys at once. Their history and dislike for each other makes the duo more entertaining. The pair of Johnson and Statham helps make this the most charismatic film of the Fast franchise. The leading men are well aware of what type of film they are in, and that laid-back feeling carries this movie far.
Idris Elba is cool in every role he’s in and that remains intact in this movie. Despite being bogged down in far-fetched details, as is usual with recent Fast villains, he’s obviously having fun with it. Elba’s Brixton helps to ground the outrageous story of Hobbs and Shaw to make it believable. While he’s not a menacing villain, Elba is intimidating, unstoppable force as Brixton. His backstory helps keep the attention off of his insane plan, and the film benefits from that.
The breakout star has to be Vanessa Kirby. She’s a lot of fun, but I wish she was given more to do. Hattie Shaw is basically the MacGuffin of the film and that limits her as a character in my eyes because of it. I wanted to know more about her and hopefully we’ll have that chance in the future. Despite falling into the tired category of Fast females with nothing to do, Kirby shines with the little she’s given.
The movie has FOUR high-profile celebrity cameos. Obviously, I won’t spoil them here but you know that Helen Mirren is there. Reprising her role as the Shaw matriarch, she’s just here for some fun. Mirren and the cameos know what film they are in and don’t make too much more of their appearance in this spin-off.
Even though Mirren returns, none of the other characters in the Fast franchise are mentioned. This is a plus, allowing Hobbs and Shaw to be its own thing. Generally, spinoffs are too focused on relating to the mainstream saga that it isn’t given too much room to breathe. The main heart that has been long established in this franchise remains in this adventure: family. Both Hobbs and Shaw confront and resolve their family histories while saving the world. Beyond that, Hobbs and Shaw is allowed to be its own movie. It has its own tone, its own characters, and its own stakes.
Unfortunately, the movie does drag at times. While the humorous bits are funny, they happen too often and slow the story down. The film is hurt by its runtime and could have benefited from being a few minutes shorter to tighten everything up. However, it’s filled with enough chases, fights, and explosions to keep the audiences interested.
Hobbs and Shaw is fun and dumb entertainment. The Rock has displayed his prowess as a charismatic leading man once again here. With that being said, the overall bar for these films is relatively low. While I commend the directors, writers, producers, actors and stunt team continuing to personally raise the bar with each movie, the result remains the same: if you see a Fast and Furious movie, you’ve seen them all.
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