‘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 Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ payoff trailer reveals epic action

Saving the world is easy, but working together is going to be a real pain in the ass. Watch the payoff trailer for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby.

In Philippine cinemas July 31, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.  #HobbsAndShaw #FastFurious  

About Fast & Furious Presents: 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 Presents: 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.

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. 

Dwayne Johnson takes on Jason Statham in ‘Fast & Furious 8’

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their iconic rival characters Hobbs and Shaw in Universal Pictures’ Fast & Furious 8, the newest chapter in one of the most popular and enduring motion-picture serials of all time.

(Watch the Fate of the Franchise featurette below.)

In the film, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are married and Brian and Mia have retired from the game—and the rest of the crew has been exonerated—the globetrotting team has found a semblance of a normal life. But when a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of crime he can’t seem to escape and a betrayal of those closest to him, they will face trials that will test them as never before.

Screenwriter Chris Morgan again worked closely with Dwayne Johnson to flesh out additional backstory for elite DSS agent Hobbs, the ultimate lawman whose own strict moral code has grown more flexible…thanks to the détente that he and Dom established years ago. Very few are able to pierce business-only Hobbs’ veneer, but as the team earned his respect and trust, a burgeoning camaraderie grew.

For Hobbs, this is what makes Dom’s actions in this chapter so unforgivable. Blindsided by Dom’s betrayal during a covert mission in Berlin, Hobbs becomes collateral damage and is left to fend for himself. The U.S. government has now turned its back on one of its own, and Hobbs ends up serving his sentence in the same super-max prison where he previously deposited his former nemesis Deckard Shaw. No longer on the right side of the law himself, Hobbs begins to shed those layers that used to define him as the best of the best.

Johnson appreciated the opportunity for character growth that the new chapter gave him, especially the opportunity to spar—verbally and physically—with longtime pal Jason Statham. He explains: “With Hobbs, there are no handcuffs, and I love how he’s been able to pierce the franchise. Since Fast Five, we’ve set up a foundation where he can say anything. Now, the story of this film gave Jason and me great liberty with where to go. We wanted to fully create this Butch-and-Sundance relationship that audiences are going to love. We have two wisecracking, badass guys talking shit to each other, but a bond is forming.”

For his part, Shaw, the laser-focused covert operative who relentlessly pursued Dom and the crew in Fast & Furious 7, has been biding his time in the a hidden facility where only the baddest of the bad are tossed. But with the arrival of Hobbs at supermax, the sentence has become a bit more tolerable.

Statham agrees with his fellow star: “Deckard’s always got something up his sleeve, so it’s great to have this continuing conflict with Hobbs. Dwayne and I get the opportunity to play around with this tension, which is a great vehicle for these two who really have this have that oil-and-water thing going on.”

The layers of Shaw’s back-story will also be peeled back to reveal more about the British operative who has his own staunch familial moral code, which eventually builds a begrudging, respect for his prey. Deckard’s younger brother, Owen, played by Welsh actor Luke Evans, was introduced in Fast & Furious 6 as the first villain in the series who had the cunning and ability to be considered by Dom and the team as a true adversary. When Deckard last left his little brother, Owen was clinging to life in a hospital…thanks to the revenge of Dom.

For Hobbs and Shaw, director F. Gary Gray wanted to see the pair engage in verbal sparring…as a precursor to the rematch of their explosive fight sequence from Fast & Furious 7. The ensuing Hobbs/Shaw no-holds-barred prison-wide brawl in Fast & Furious 8 is the result of Mr. Nobody’s (Kurt Russell) ploy to break Hobbs out of supermax. What ensues is another dynamic action sequences that pits former adversaries against each other.

Opening across the Philippines on Black Saturday, April 15, 2017, Fast & Furious 8 is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Shooting begins on sci-fi film ‘Meg’ starring Jason Statham, Li Bingbing

Principal photography is underway in New Zealand on the science fiction action thriller “Meg,” being directed by Jon Turteltaub (the “National Treasure” movies). The film stars Jason Statham (“Spy,” “Furious 7,” “The Expendables” films). Award-winning Chinese actress Li Bingbing (“Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Forbidden Kingdom,” “The Message”) has been set to star opposite Statham.

In the film, a deep-sea submersible—part of an international undersea observation program—has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific…with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew—and the ocean itself—from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below…bringing him face to face once more with the greatest and largest predator of all time.
Rounding out the international main cast of “Meg” are New Zealander Cliff Curtis (TV’s “Fear the Walking Dead”), Rainn Wilson (TV’s “The Office” ), Ruby Rose (“xXx: Return of Xander Cage”), Winston Chao (“Skiptrace”), Page Kennedy (TV’s “Rush Hour”), Jessica McNamee (“The Vow”), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (“The BFG”), Robert Taylor (“Focus”), Sophia Shuya Cai (“Somewhere Only We Know”), and Masi Oka (TV’s “Heroes”).

Turteltaub is directing the film from a screenplay by Dean Georgaris and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber, based on the New York Times best-selling book by Steve Alten. Lorenzo di Bonaventura (the “Transformers” films), Belle Avery (“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”) and Colin Wilson (“Suicide Squad,” “Avatar”) are producing the film, with Wayne Wei Jiang, Randy Greenberg, Barrie M. Osborne and Gerald R. Molen serving as executive producers.

Turteltaub’s behind-the-scenes team includes Oscar-nominated director of photography Tom Stern (“Changeling,” “Sully,” “American Sniper,” “The Hunger Games”), Oscar-winning production designer Grant Major (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), editor Steven Kemper (“Salt”) and costume designer Amanda Neale (“Pete’s Dragon”).

In addition to New Zealand, filming on “Meg” is also being accomplished on location in China.
“Meg” is a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Gravity Pictures. It is production of di Bonaventura Pictures, Apelles Entertainment, Maeday Productions, Inc., and Flagship Entertainment, in association with Beijing Digital Impression (BDI) Film, Inc.

Opening across the Philippines in March 2018, “Meg” will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.