‘Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw’ review: Audacious and ridiculous

Part-car-chase-action, part-buddy-comedy, and arguably part-superhero film, ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ serviceably assembles the requisites for a popcorn blockbuster.

The plot of the Fast & Furious films truly came a long way from illegal street-racing and high speed heists. Its newest spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw, ratchets up the stakes by involving a deadly virus that can wipe out half of the population. Apparently, it boils down to averting a Thanos phenomenon. I’m not sure if screenwriters Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce originally intended their script as a pitch for a Marvel or a Mission: Impossible film, but do we really care? The latest chapter may feature less cars and more formulaic blockbuster elements, yet one thing has always been consistent – the franchise’s over-the-top ambition to wreck your suspension of disbelief. Hobbs & Shaw knows that its explosive stunt choreography is the main reason why we’re along for the ride. It’s outrageously fun and ridiculous.

There are at least two more reasons for this spin-off: 1. Vin Diesel and The Rock reportedly had some beef, so both are not exactly thrilled to work together anytime soon; and 2. This actually serves as a way to extend the franchise without the need of having all the A-listers. Hobbs & Shaw capitalizes on two previous anti-heroes and puts them in a buddy action-comedy: a federal law enforcement officer Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and a world class thief/mercenary Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Both are epitome of toxic masculinity, but these bald, muscle-bound alpha males are different in many ways and they hate each other’s guts. Soon, they have to work together. For Hobbs it’s another job of saving the world, while for Shaw, it’s a personal quest to save his estranged sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby).

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) attempt to infiltrate the bad guys’ lair.

Director David Leitch (Deadpool 2 and John Wick) mostly assembles Hobbs & Shaw with spare parts from previous action films – you will be reminded of M:I – Fallout, Mad Max: Fury Road, Skyscraper and even Kingsman at some point. The resulting model feels less like a F&F film and more like the standard flicks that The Rock and Statham have starred in. The film also tries to occupy the comedic lane with its brand of lowbrow banter. And in case it’s not clear, Leitch drops a couple of big star cameos doing gags along the way (they will remain unnamed for your surprise). Or you can just wait for the part where Hobbs and Shaw funnily engage in slow-mo punches. Or the part where Hobbs and his brothers perform a Samoan chant before throwing themselves into battle. Yes, that really happened. Sure enough, the film gets away with its absurd setups with the help of the winning charisma of its leads.

Elsewhere, I saw the order of the epic stunts coming from a mile away – no thanks to the trailers that spilled too much of the set pieces. There’s supposed to be a grave sense of danger – moments where butts should be lifted from seats – but since almost everything here defies physics and common logic, you might as well get a good laugh at its audacity and willingness to lunacy. In one scene, Hobbs fearlessly jumps out of a skyscraper to catch a henchman who’s rappelling down below. Twenty seconds later, he jumps again in pursuit of a different henchman, effortlessly changing the trajectory of his freefall.  And lest we forget the portion where Hobbs holds down a helicopter using his terrific biceps. Captain America would be proud.

Bad guy. Idris Elba plays genetically enhanced MI6 agent Brixton Lore.

And since we’re almost dealing with superheroic stuff now, it’s only fitting that Hobbs & Shaw introduces the franchise’s most formidable villain yet – the Winter Soldier, er, Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a bionic MI6 agent who calls himself as the “Black Superman.” Given his skillset and abilities, he can also be a terminator and a transformer for all we know. Elba knocks his role out of the park, however, the biggest revelation here is neither him or the two leads. Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie steals the show with her exquisite balance of classiness and feistiness. Her character does not succumb as a damsel in distress – she can beat up guys on her own, all while remaining to be the film’s source of emotional friction. Someone please give Kirby a solo action feature.

Vanessa Kirby plays Hattie Shaw, Deckard’s estranged sister.

You can accuse Hobbs & Shaw as a mindless form of entertainment but it’s never soulless. No matter how bonkers the action sequences can get, the film abides by the franchise’s hallmark of putting the family first above anything else. Such a theme can be a contractual obligation by now – both leads here are in need of a family reconciliation. Their respective subplots could’ve been done better as they’re a bit overplayed and underdeveloped. But it’s the sentiment that counts, I guess. 

Overall, this spin-off manages to have fun without having the burden of tying much of its ends to the F&F universe. Leitch keeps the action and comedy running at full speed, even if the pacing starts to drag at times. The outcome is something you’ve seen before – more or less, but it’s still highly enjoyable. And sometimes, that brand of ridiculous and fun is just enough to keep the action aficionados happy.

3.5 out of 5 stars
Directed by David Leitch, written by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw stars Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza González, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis and Helen Mirren. 135 minutes. PG-13.

Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham collide in ‘Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw’

Although Fast fans already know Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, director David Leitch wanted to re-introduce them on their own terms and establish their lives away from the rest of the Fast team. The first scene in Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw hilariously contrasts Hobbs’ laid-back life in California with Shaw’s extravagant life in London, using a split screen to highlight just how opposite these two heroes are.

“The opening sequence is really clever and is one of my favorite little moments of the movie,” Jason Statham says. “It’s spot-on because Hobbs and Shaw are so different yet so similar. I think it’s a tightrope that Dave walks rather well throughout the film.”

Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is an exacting man with an unwavering moral code, but he’s also a man who cut himself off from his family more than 20 years ago, for reasons he won’t explain. When his daughter becomes more curious about her family tree, Hobbs tries to dodge her questions, but the events of the film will ultimately lead him back to his roots in Samoa, where he’ll be forced to face his past and make peace with his four brothers.

Meanwhile, Deckard Shaw (Statham) has his own family issues to deal with. Over the course of four films, the debonair British operative has shifted from foe to outlier, but that transition has often been perilous.

Audiences first learned of Shaw’s existence when he appeared, unnamed, in the mind-blowing postscript of Fast & Furious 6, where it was revealed that he was connected to the death of Han (Sung Kang). It wasn’t until Furious 7 that we learned that Shaw, a cold-blooded black ops assassin, had a score to settle. Shaw put Dom, Brian and the team on notice that he was coming after them to avenge his younger brother Owen (Luke Evans), who was then clinging to life in a military hospital.

In Fast & Furious 8, audiences caught a deeper glimpse of the man behind the façade of the covert ops assassin, when Shaw efficiently rescued and protected Dom’s son Nico alongside his resurrected brother Owen, and again when his mother Queenie Shaw (Helen Mirren), a mysterious woman with underworld connections, revealed the length’s an East London mum would go to protect her own.

Shaw’s interactions with Queenie—a combination of love and professional respect—gave audiences insight into the foundations of Shaw’s unique moral code and began to unveil the real man behind the lethal exterior.

The theme of family has always been one of the unifying threads that weaves through the Fast universe. Indeed, that theme takes center stage in Hobbs & Shaw and shapes the decisions and motivations of both lead characters.

Now showing in Philippine cinemas, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. #HobbsAndShawPH 

About Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

After eight films that have amassed almost $5 billion worldwide, the Fast & Furious franchise now features its first stand-alone vehicle as Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their roles as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw in Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw.

Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (Johnson), a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (Statham), a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015’s Fast & Furious 7, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they’ve tried to take each other down.

But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever — and bests a brilliant and fearless  rogue MI6 agent (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby), who just happens to be Shaw’s sister — these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves.

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw blasts open a new door in the Fast universe as it hurtles action across the globe, from Los Angeles to London and from the toxic wasteland of Chernobyl to the lush beauty of Samoa.   

Directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2) from a script by longtime Fast & Furious narrative architect Chris Morgan, the film is produced by Morgan, Johnson, Statham and Hiram Garcia. The executive producers are Dany Garcia, Kelly McCormick, Steven Chasman, Ethan Smith and Ainsley Davies. 

WATCH: ‘Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw’ unveils final trailer, recap video

Universal Pictures has just released the final trailer for Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby.

As a companion piece to the trailer, the studio has also shared a recap video in which Johnson explains where Hobbs & Shaw sits in the entire Fast & Furious timeline.

Check out the videos below and watch Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw in Philippine cinemas July 31.

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. #HobbsAndShaw #FastFurious     

About Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

After eight films that have amassed almost $5 billion worldwide, the Fast & Furious franchise now features its first stand-alone vehicle as Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their roles as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw in Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw.

Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (Johnson), a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (Statham), a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015’s Fast & Furious 7, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they’ve tried to take each other down.

But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever — and bests a brilliant and fearless  rogue MI6 agent (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby), who just happens to be Shaw’s sister — these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves.

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw blasts open a new door in the Fast universe as it hurtles action across the globe, from Los Angeles to London and from the toxic wasteland of Chernobyl to the lush beauty of Samoa.   

Directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2) from a script by longtime Fast & Furious narrative architect Chris Morgan, the film is produced by Morgan, Johnson, Statham and Hiram Garcia. The executive producers are Dany Garcia, Kelly McCormick, Steven Chasman, Ethan Smith and Ainsley Davies.