Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Not every movie is meant to be deeply thought-provoking, leaving the audience to debate its Oscar-worthiness. Some movies are pure escapism popcorn flicks.
Hobbs & Shaw is THAT movie.
The title characters, brought over from the Fast and Furious franchise, have to team up to stop the spread of a deadly, weaponized virus. Dwayne Johnson is a DSS agent, Jason Statham is a disgraced special ops spy. If you’ve seen the Fast and Furious series, you know the two do not get along. That hatred continues, comically, throughout this film. The two constantly throw insults and sarcasm at each other while trying to save the world.
Statham’s sister, played by The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby, has the weaponized virus and is on the run to keep it from a shadow organization wanting to use it to kill off most of the world’s population. The organization’s man in the field is Idris Elba, playing a super agent…literally. He’s been genetically enhanced. He’s more cyborg than human. This means he’s nearly unstoppable and, therefore, a match for the dynamic duo of Johnson and Statham.
I’ve heard the action in Hobbs & Shaw (and all the Fast and Furious movies) described as cartoonish. I’d have to say that’s accurate. There are such huge action sequences that you couldn’t imagine them happening in reality. You can tell the makers of the movie basically said, “why not?” and completely leaned into the cartoonishness with gusto.
Explosions abound throughout the movie. There are enough bullets to compete with a Stallone movie from the 80s. Car chase after car chase keeps happening. Also, of course, there are some really big action sequences as the Fast and Furious movies have become known for. Cars driving through the walls of buildings. Collapsing factories. Helicopters flying around towing multiple cars. Essentially, there is no moment to head to the bathroom, you’re going to miss some big spectacle or other.
The storyline adds some redemptive elements for Jason Statham’s character. Remember, he began as a villain in Fast and Furious 6 by killing Han. So, he was supposed to be a villain. The problem is that Statham is just so dang likeable. So, with FF 7 and 8, he became more of an “anti-good guy” rather than a villain. Franchise writer Chris Morgan says there’s still justice coming for Han, but I don’t see how. Shaw has become a mainstay in now 3 films. With this movie, they even cleaned up some of his backstory a bit, saying he was framed for some elements the FF gang were told he did. Regardless of this new info, though, he killed fan favorite Han. So, I’m sure FF audiences, like the characters, are torn on how that should come to a resolution.
The thing that disappointed me, however, is that there was no mention of Shaw’s brother. This brother’s death is what brought Statham into this growing shared universe of movies. In this movie, he’s saving his sister. They have flashbacks of him with his sister as children. Yet, there was no mention of Luke Evan’s character. I feel this was a massive oversight, especially since Morgan has written the majority of the FF movies as well as this one. If they’d have thrown a third kid into the flashbacks, it would have felt like a more accurate tie-in.
Dwayne Johnson is his normal fun self in this movie. Some say he’s the same guy in every movie. Sure, he is. “The People’s Eyebrow” pops up in everything he does and, yes, makes an appearance in this movie too. That’s what people go to see! They want the bigger than life, hilarious with one-liners, action star. It’s the same thing Schwarzenegger had going for him in the 80s and 90s. Johnson’s the same every time because that’s what the fans want to see. He does, however, get to explore his character’s background and family in Samoa during this movie. If you know Johnson from previous movies and interviews, you know his Samoan heritage is very important to him. So, surely, he enjoyed filming some of the movie’s only heartfelt moments as well as the climactic scenes in Samoa (even though the scenes were actually filmed in Hawaii).
Idris Elba proved just as fun as the title characters. As the “black Superman” of the movie, he was menacingly great as the bio-engineered ultra-human. It’s odd, though. While the FF franchise has cartoonish action, it usually doesn’t lean so heavily sci-fi, choosing instead to generally be grounded a bit more in reality. Even if the things people are doing in the movies are unrealistic, the rest of movies are. Elba’s fantastical character sees things with robotic accuracy. He’s bulletproof. He even has a remote-controlled motorcycle that, in some of the CGI scenes, I swear transformed a time or two. Regardless of whether he was an out of place Terminator-style villain in an otherwise non-sci-fi franchise, he was cool to see in action. Plus, they had to come up with someone who could believably take on both Johnson and Statham. Hence, genetically enhanced cyborg!
Another issue that rises in the movie is blatant disregard for realism. Often, there are some things that happen that just make zero sense. I’m all for suspension of disbelief. However, like a good magician, a director is supposed to not let you see the tricks happen. You’re supposed to suspend disbelief that a ragtag group of street racers can become the go-to group secret government figures call when the world’s about to end. Sure. However, transforming remote-controlled motorcycles was an odd choice. Similarly, there’s a moment when a bunch of cars link together with chains and then spontaneously unlink without anyone manually unwrapping the chains! Multiple elements such as this go by in the movie to the point where even my 10-year-old kids were saying “there’s no way that’d work”. So, expectation of “suspension of disbelief” shouldn’t be an entitlement for lazy film making.
For a really cool positive of the movie, be on the lookout for cameos from Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart, and Helen Mirren. Mirren, as always, was amazing. Reynolds and Hart were as oddball as ever, which was perfect for both.
Overall, however, the movie is a fun, kinetic, never-slow-down, cartoonish action blowout with, admittedly unrealistic plot points and characters as well as special effects with logic holes. However, the “cartoonishness” is fun, no matter what. No Oscar contenders here. Just a thrill a minute, mind-blowingly exciting ride. Grab the popcorn and enjoy. Just don’t look too closely at the details.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw: Full Throttle Action
- Writing - 7.2/107.2/10
- Storyline - 7.2/107.2/10
- Acting - 8.4/108.4/10
- Music - 8/108/10
- Production - 7.5/107.5/10