After stealing scenes since Fast Five and Furious 7 respectively (much to the annoyance of their other co-stars *cough* Vin Diesel *cough*) Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham break away from the regular Fast & Furious family to have their own, insane adventure in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
Picking up sometime after The Fate of the Furious, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) are both recruited by the CIA to help track down a dangerous virus that has allegedly been stolen by Deckard’s younger sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), who was trying to retrieve the virus with her MI6 team but was ambushed by Brixton (Idris Elba), a former MI6 agent who joined tech company/apocalypse cult Eteon and given superhuman bionic upgrades. Brixton kills Hattie’s team and frames her as a traitor and Hobbs & Shaw have to track her down and figure out some way to get the virus out of her system, as she injected it to keep it out Brixton’s hands and only has 72 hours to get it back into containment. The plot of most Fast & Furious movies has been absurd but Hobbs & Shaw leaps fully into comic book or James Bond-style madness with Eteon basically being SPECTRE and an unseen director pulling strings behind the scenes and Brixton is a full-on comic book supervillain who would be able to stand toe to toe with a large majority of the MCU heroes and is more than a match for the combined power of The Rock and Statham. The movie feels pretty indulgent and loose at times, going close to 2 hours and 30 minutes, which is absurd for a movie of this type and there’s a lot of scenes that could be tightened up or cut altogether and there’s a surprisingly large amount of setup in the first act before the action really starts to pop off.
The cast is fully on-board for the insanity happening around them and The Rock and Statham confirm their status as one of the all-time greatest action duos. Their bickering is hilarious and there are big chunks of the movie that is just them trading insults and there’s constantly new angles of attack for their barbs. There’s still some weirdness with the retconning of Deckard as a misunderstood anti-hero and not the outright villain we clearly saw in Furious 7 that started in Fate of the Furious. There are revelations in Hobbs & Shaw that basically redeem him of almost everything that he was alleged to have been a part of but there’s still the dangling matter of straight-up killing Han that is still not addressed. On the Hobbs side of things, the third act is basically diving into his family issues as the trio heads to Samoa but a lot of that stuff feels kind of rushed and a bit like an afterthought compared to the focus on renewing the Hattie/Deckard bond that drives the rest of the movie. Idris Elba is great as always and seems to be having a blast playing bionic supervillain and he chews on the various monologues and villain dialogue he’s given. Vanessa Kirby is also fantastic and the hints of bad assery that we saw in last year’s Mission Impossible Fallout are fully played out here. She easily keeps pace with Hobbs & Shaw in both the verbal and physical arenas and she’s perfectly believable as the daughter of Helen Mirren and the brother of Jason Statham. There are also some fun cameos from actors that were not even hinted at in the trailers, although the scenes with some of them are in the aforementioned indulgent category and go on probably a bit longer than they need to just because they got this person and are just letting them go off on a tangent.
Director David Leitch has delivered insane action before with the likes of Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde and Hobbs & Shaw is no exception. While I don’t think any of it matches the highest highs of the mainline Fast & Furious movies, it’s still incredibly over the top and fun, with tons of physics-defying spectacle and vehicular carnage. The movie really goes all out with Brixton’s bionic abilities with things like basically an Iron Man-style HUD built into his eyes and he has a motorcycle that he can call from anywhere and that he uses in superhuman ways. If you weren’t on board with the ridiculous style of the Fast & Furious franchise, you won’t be on board for this but then why would you be going to see this movie in the first place?
Hobbs & Shaw is a ton of fun but isn’t quite up to the level of the best Fast movies, like Fast Five. The Rock and Jason Statham continue to have an amazing back and forth bickering chemistry and Vanessa Kirby is able to join in and make it even better. Idris Elba is having a blast devouring scenery as a cyborg and the action is completely insane and over the top. If you’re a fan of the characters and the Fast & Furious franchise in general, you’ll most likely have a blast with this spin-off as well.