Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
The Fast and Furious franchise has become an incredibly successful series of films that continues to dominate the box office with each and every sequel. Fast Five, my personal favorite of the series, introduced Dwayne Johnson to the franchise, and its there where the series took on its wild new direction. Introduced a film later, Jason Statham also entered into these films, as a character tied into the events of Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, despite not starring in the film himself. Hobbs and Shaw, a spin-off of the Fast and Furious films, places the unlikely duo of the titular characters directly in the path of a chemical virus, doomed to destroy the world. It’s fun, its cheesy, and while some of its jokes either fall flat or go on for too long, it’s still a vastly entertaining film from start to finish.
Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs) and Jason Statham (Shaw) are linked into a case together because of event surrounding an MI-6 agent named Hattie, played to near perfection by the stunning and talented Vanessa Kirby. Hattie, who is Shaw’s sister, a fact told to us in the trailers, is framed for murder and the theft of a top secret virus, one that is now flowing through her blood stream during an attempt by a man named Brixton to steal it away from her crew. This turns the Shaw sister into a walking time bomb, one capable of destroying the entire world unless they can contain it in time.
This forms the overall structure of the story, as Idris Elba (Brixton), is hot on the heels of the trio, a bio-engineered super solider capable of high impact combat. While this aspect of a super-human solider is a bit much even for the off-the-wall Fast and Furious franchise, they downplay it far more than I thought they were going to, especially given the importance its given during the trailers. Brixton has certainly seen enhancements, but they do provide a way for the unlikely duo to defeat him, even if it’s a bit cheesy and just as over-the-top as some of the unlikely vehicle stunts the series if known for.
Brixton also has a vastly upgraded bike that almost acts like a Transformer that is psychically linked to him. It allows for some insanely cool moments and one heck of a car chase. Brixton also works for a shadow organization, one that is overseen by a mysterious figure that is more than likely going to play out either in the next Fast and Furious, or saved as a bad guy for eventual sequels to this spin-off. Casting a bad guy to take on both the Rock and Statham could have been a big challenge, but having Idris Elba face off against these two titans is damn near perfect. Brixton feels tailor made for the British actor, and it’s very clear that Elba had a great time portraying the villain as he is often cast as the protagonist in everything from The Dark Tower, to his BBC role in Luther, to his time in the MCU.
Likewise, Johnson and Statham give you exactly what you want from the pair of them, with several nods to such things as the People’s Eyebrow, and even the Italian Job. These winks and nods are plentiful, and there are even a few fun cameo’s that I really didn’t see coming, despite the absurd amount of footage shown in the countless trailers that preceded the film. The script is loaded with several jokes that work extremely well between the duo, but there are countless others that either don’t, or scenario’s, like the entire segment on the airplane, that feel far too long and drawn out. Many of the best action moments of the film have been shown in the trailers, so the shock of seeing these events for the first time are lessened greatly.
There is a narrative of family and going home that does play into the film, and frankly, the whole subplot of Hobbs returning home after several years is really the only part of the movie that really didn’t work for me. Granted, it does allow the helicopter chase to exist, even if it doesn’t explain how the cars can instantly unhook from one another, but the entire Samoa story-arc is largely boring and something we’ve seen a thousand times before. Statham and Kirby do have their own reunion and their closure is decent, but only because Kirby is just amazing to watch work. I loved her in Mission Impossible: Fallout, and she is given so much more to work with here that I would love to watch her command a film all her own. The film also implies that the Shaw siblings are roughly around the same age, despite Statham being born twenty years prior to Kirby, which is another part of the film that requires you to turn off your brain and just take in the events that are transpiring.
The Fast and Furious movies have always been about family, despite how awkward much of their stories have been worked around the concept, and it’s not surprising that the same theme is continued here as well. Like I mentioned, the more subtle nature of how it’s handled with the Shaw’s is more digestible than Hobbs returning home, but thankfully, the film does pick up with a very fun and satisfying finale that is enjoyable none-the-less. Hobbs and Shaw is about what I expected, and I left the theatre extremely satisfied with the finished product. Johnson, Statham, and Kirby, all have very good chemistry together and if I suddenly see a trailer for Hobbs and Shaw 2, well, just let me know when I can buy my tickets.