Volume Eight, Issue Thirty-One!
“Movie Review: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”
Much to Vin Diesel’s chagrin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Lucas Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw are getting the spotlight in the first ever spin off in the lucrative The Fast and The Furious franchise. There’s a lot riding on this film, from the future of the overall franchise to the rumored strained relationship between Diesel, the original star, and The Rock, the star who came in and reinvigorated the franchise. What we end up getting is something that doesn’t quite reach the heights of franchise gems like Fast Five, but still ends up as a very solid Summer action flick that’s a blast to watch in a full theater.
Hobbs & Shaw finds the titular characters being forced to team up to prevent a biological weapon from being unleashed on the world. Currently that weapon is being housed inside of Deckard Shaw’s sister, Hattie (a kick-ass Vanessa Kirby), who is falsely framed for betraying MI-6 by Brixton (the always cool Idris Elba). What follows is pretty much what you’d expect from the Furious franchise: lots of cool cars, lots of great action set pieces, and lots of globetrotting. But you also get more of Hobbs and Shaw bickering at each other, which amazingly doesn’t get old.
As much as I love both The Rock and Jason Statham, there was a part of me that was worried that giving them the spotlight might not work (too much of a good thing can be bad after all). But the natural charm and charisma of the Rock mixed with Statham’s gruff sensibilities are never tiresome, and you can tell that the two are having a blast not only getting the top billings, but also taking shots at one another. The two are obviously no slouches in the action department, either, with both having multiple stand out moments that will easily be some of the best action scenes of the year.
Vanessa Kirby made a big splash last year in her brief role in Mission: Impossible Fallout, but with Hobbs & Shaw she’s got a much bigger role, and she plays it effortlessly. While she’s been in plenty of higher profile projects before this, I expect this to launch her into the next level of stardom (and maybe even into that rumored Catwoman role). She’s convincing in her action scenes, and is able to go toe to toe with the likes of Johnson and Statham, a feat that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Really the only part of her role that doesn’t work is the hints at a romance between her character and Hobbs, a move that comes off as really forced.
Recent villains in the Fast & Furious franchise have included Luke Evans, Charlize Theron, and even Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, so the pedigree is pretty high for bad guys. Luckily for Hobbs & Shaw, the film’s villain is played by one of the coolest actors on the planet, Idris Elba. While Elba’s plan doesn’t go much beyond “wipe out a bunch of humanity for the next wave of evolution to take over”, Elba’s natural charm lets Brixton leave an indelible mark on the film, and he’s clearly having a ton of fun beating the crap out of The Rock and Jason Statham.
Director David Leitch has worked on films like Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and the first John Wick film, so he comes with a pretty good resume for action, and while the action in Hobbs & Shaw isn’t quite as good as the action in his previous films, there’s a true sense of wonderful chaos in a lot of these set pieces. Sequences like a bunch of cars link up together like a Mad Max Barrel of Monkeys, or Brixton’s unexplained remote control motorcycle change shape so he can surf under a car are truly jaw-dropping moments, and even though you’ve seen some of these in the trailers and TV spots, they still feel fresh in context.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Hobbs & Shaw is that it can be viewed with little to no previous knowledge of any of the brain melting plotting of the franchise that birthed it. One person in our group went into this relatively cold, and still had a blast watching it. It really does a great job of presenting this franchise to a whole group of people who would probably never watch it to begin with, and if it goes as well as Universal and the Rock hope it does, I could absolutely see a 2Hobbs2Shaw in our near future. A lot of people scoff at this franchise, but I can’t think of any modern day film series that’s not Marvel that has had this many films that pull off this much insanity. It’s a wonderful, insane balancing act of ridiculousness that these films put on, and I’ll be there for every one of them.