If you’ve clicked on the link to read my thoughts on the newFast and Furiousmovie, I’m going to presume you’ve already seen at least one or two of the other movies in this franchise, not that you necessarily need to, but it won’t hurt. In some ways, it’s hard to take yourself too seriously as a film critic while reviewing these movies, because they’re made solely for entertainment purpose, and for the most part, they always deliver. Hobbs and Shawis no exception.
Hobbs is Dwayne Johnson’s federal agent Luke Hobbs, while Shaw is Deckard Shaw, Jason Statham’s British agent who first came into conflict with Hobbs in Furious 7. Before we even get to them, we witness a heist being perpetrated by Idris Elba’s enhanced soldier Brixton, trying to steal a deadly virus off the hands of MI6, killing an entire team before framing Vanessa Kirby’s agent Hattie, who we discover is also Shaw’s sister.
After we get to see a little bit of each title character doing their thing, they’re each contacted separately to retrieve the virus, which has infected Hattie as she tried to keep it from Brixton. If you’re not already aware, these two men absolutely hate each other. They have a lot in common, but they handle situations so differently, and the only reason they agree to team-up is because Shaw’s sister being in danger and Brixton is also threatening Hobbs’ daughter.
The set-up is pretty simple, and it’s not like these movies have ever claimed to offer the storytelling equivalent of rocket science, but that set-up is enough to put Johnson and Statham into quite a few hand-to-hand combat situations, others replete with gunfire and even a few street races.
What’s particularly enjoyable about Hobbs and Shaw is that it allows the filmmakers to play with new genres. Despite those car chases — and a particularly “Fast and Furious” one near the end – the movie combines the type of high-tech spy stuff we might see in Bond or “Mission: Impossible” with a straight-up buddy action comedy. In other words, if you liked Johnson and Statham’s big jailbreak in Fate of the Furious and thought you’d want to see a whole movie of that duo, then you’re in luck… and it’s as awesome as you’d hoped.
Johnson and Statham bring their A-game to every scene, more in terms of trading shots than doing anything dramatically different from the norm. Surprisingly, Vanessa Kirby holds her own while surrounded by so much absolute machismo, and it’s great to see her get fully in on the action as well. As much as I wanted to enjoy Idris Elba’s super-powered villain Brixton, it’s a role that doesn’t really give Elba a chance to flex his acting muscles since it is such a physical role vs. cerebral one. More interesting is the larger organization behind Brixton who want to recruit Hobbs and Shaw, as that’s something very reminiscent of what Casino Royaleset up for the Bond franchise. I also enjoyed seeing Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes) as a Russian scientist, not a role that really gives him much to do, although he also gets involved in the action.
Thanks to director David Leitch (Deadpool 2), the movie never lets up, as all the crazy action scenes are countered by hilarious laughs when Johnson and Statham go at each other. If that isn’t enough, there are a few unexpected cameos that are so unbelievably hilarious I would seriously murder anyone who spoils them. (I would make sure to have a good alibi first, of course.)
Still, some parts work better than others, and unfortunately, the third act which brings the group to Hobbs’ family home in Samoa is where things start to go a bit overboard, and that decision feels somewhat forced. For some reason, the craziness we see in London and Russia works fine but moving it to a sunny tropical island setting somehow detracts from the scale.
WWE superstar Roman Reigns appears in this section in a very small role in which he has practically no dialogue, but it’s really Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead) as Hobbs’ estranged brother who brings out some of the film’s strongest emotions.
Although Hobbs and Shaw is a nice dip into the international espionage territory, these movies have never quite attained the level of storytelling we’ve gotten from the better “Mission: Impossible” movies. And yet, Hobbs and Shaw is hella fun, offering a promising new direction for the “Fast and Furious” franchise with lots of potential most will want to see them expand upon.