We’re all aware that the Fast & Furious series is most known for its hard-hitting exploration of interpersonal relationships and teamwork set against the backdrop of illegal street racing. Oscar-worthy performances are strung together by authentic hyper-realistic car stunts. But you’d think you’d get more of the same from its new spinoff film, David Leitch’s Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
This spin-off departs from the original franchise with the stunt casting of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hobbs and Jason Statham as Shaw. As if, audiences will see this film, just because of its leads. Another departure is its liberal, yet flagrant use of over-the-top car stunts, seemingly impossible CG-stunts, hand-to-hand and brawler-style fighting, and an endless stream of one-liners between its two stars. What makes Hobbs & Shaw stand out from its predecessors is its heavy lean on the theme of “family.”
We open with MI6 Agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) on a mission to retrieve a deadly virus that has the potential of killing most of humanity. On the same mission is the super-soldier cyborg Brixton (Idris Elba) sent by the dark ops organization known as Eteon, who created the virus in the first place. Brixton is a cyborg soldier with super-strength, impervious to bullets, and a computer in his eye that targets any “red shirt” in his path.
“…Hobbs and Shaw are teamed together by the CIA to find Hattie and the virus. But nothing is ever easy…”
In an attempt to save the world, Hattie injects herself with the virus and has hours to find safe and remove the virus or the world is doomed. After Brixton and crew murder her entire team, Hattie escapes in a fantastic car chase through the street of London.
Through a series of events, Hobbs and Shaw are teamed together by the CIA to find Hattie and the virus. But nothing is ever easy, the dark ops organization Eteon controls the media and spins the “fake news” story that Hattie and the boys are traitors to humanity and must be stopped at all costs. Our heroes’ mission is to retrieve a virus-removing machine from the secret headquarters Eteon along with the help of its creator Professor Andreiko (Eddie Marsan). Afterward, they must find a location safe to remove said virus and set the final battle against Eteon, Brixton, and a corp of unnamed henchmen (hint: it’s in Hobbs’ home country of Samoa—check the trailer).
Car chases, motorcycle chases, helicopter chases, hand-to-hand combat, punching and brawling, ten on one situations, an unstoppable cyborg, a countdown clock, a little bit of kissing and bleeding, and a cultural tour of Samoa—do we really care whether or not a story exists or makes sense or falls in line with the continuity so preciously held by the previous Fast & Furious films? Hobbs & Shaw is an action film in every sense of the word. You’re meant to check your brain at the door, shove your face with popcorn, and have a good time. Why would you expect more? This isn’t Shakespeare!
“The action and stunts are exciting and hey, The Rock vs. Statham…c’mon.”
I applaud writers Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce for crafting a script that barely manages to hold itself together. The action and stunts are exciting and hey, The Rock vs. Statham…c’mon. We’ve all been wanting this dream team-up. It’s all there with the occasional cheesy “I-hate/respect-you” sketches and banter. As Hattie, Vanessa Kirby holds her own as the only emotionally-stable member of the crew and if you don’t mind her referred to as the “girl,” then just you’ll be fine. There’s a moment when Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) shows up without the scars or uniform, but with all that salty language, it presents the film’s first of two real bummers.
The other is my continued criticism of the Fast & Furious series. I feel like I’m watching an animated feature with live-action characters. As impossible as these stunts are in real life and when held against the actual laws of physics, these impossible stunts are indeed…impossible. It’s like watching a comic book and you gradually suspend all disbelief. When it comes to contemporary action films, Mission Impossible is the one that pushes the boundaries of authenticity, while Hobbs & Shaw doesn’t care.
My kid and I are enormous marks for Dwayne Johnson. He can do no wrong (Skyscraper!?!), and he does not disappoint. Hobbs & Shaw was clearly designed to make money for everyone involved and lots of it. So, dear readers…hand it over.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) Directed by David Leitch. Written by Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba, Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis.
7.5 out of 10 stars