Before I get into my review, I feel it’s necessary to share the following information: Hobbs & Shaw is the first Fast & Furious film I’ve seen since the original. The following review comes from someone who isn’t really a fan of, or ever had much interest in the franchise until this spin-off, so I won’t be able to compare it to the other Fast & Furious flicks.
Having said that, I’m definitely a fan of this movie. Hobbs & Shaw – which should’ve been subtitled “Hobbs & Shaws,” but I’ll get to that later – is an easily enjoyable action comedy. The movie’s leads, their chemistry, some big laughs, and a whole bunch of balls to the wall action are more than enough to outweigh the weak storytelling and disappointing villain.
The film’s protagonists are Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs, who is some kind of super-cop, and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, an anti-hero with a heart of gold, and they really, REALLY don’t like each other. Well, they keep saying that anyway, but the ways they express their disdain for each other tends to feel more like friends busting each other’s chops, albeit to an insanely high degree, than actual hatred. Anyway, the two of them are forced to work together when Deckard’s MI6 operative sister Hattie (Venessa Kirby) gets caught up in a plot to prevent a group of high tech terrorists and their superhuman soldier (Idris Elba) from obtaining a deadly virus. It’s a mish-mash of tried and true action flick narratives, and it works only as well as it needs to.
The story takes a backseat (heh) to the action, which was a good choice. The camerawork ensures you’re always at the best vantage point, and it’s fast without feeling jarring or too furious. The settings and set pieces are also spot on, giving a uniqueness to the multiple car chases that could have felt very similar otherwise. From the eponymous heroes racing through London in a sports car, to Hobbs and his family bringing a Samoan smackdown to a bunch of bad guys, to pretty much everything Hattie does, each action sequence is an absolute blast.
Speaking of Hattie, she’s probably the best thing in this movie. Kirby holds her own and then some while working with her action icon co-stars. It’s also pretty apparent that most of Hobbs & Shaw’s best choreography went into her fights. Hattie’s just as badass (at least) and important to the movie as the titular two men, and it’s a damn shame she’s not in the title… Unless it isn’t referring to Statham’s character?
That’s not to say Hobbs and Shaw weren’t fun, because they most definitely were. Johnson and Statham play off of each other wonderfully, and they keep the movie entertaining almost every step of the way. There were very few moments during the movie’s two-hour plus runtime that felt slow, and I credit that to the film’s focus very, very rarely ever moving away from one or both of the leads.
Unfortunately there were a couple of slow moments, and those were the ones that spent time trying in vain to build up Idris Elba’s Brixton, who is the biggest letdown of the film despite the actor doing everything he can to make the super soldier interesting. Brixton is a painfully one-note antagonist, and I’m pretty sure Elba isn’t even in the vast majority of the character’s battles. I’m curious how much of the action used a stunt double, but I definitely know he was mostly CGI in the chase sequences because it looked pretty choppy. Hell, Brixton didn’t even get a share of the film’s humorous lines, and there were plenty of those to go around!
In addition to the countless comical quips, Hobbs & Shaw had some really fun physical humor too. I’d say some moments were even borderline slapstick. There are also a few supporting characters that I won’t name here who bring in huge laughs with very little screen time.
All in all, I had a great time with Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. Statham, Johnson, and Kirby were so much fun to watch that my issues with the movie barely registered until I left the theater. It’s a flawed, but fun film I can easily recommend. Is it fun enough to make me watch the eight previous movies? No, but it’s certainly enjoyable enough to make me hope for a sequel.
NOTE: Make sure to stay through the credits.