Over the course of eight films, the Fast & Furious series has gleefully broken every law of physics and defied studio expectations in the process. Racking up five billion dollars at the worldwide box office, Universal’s car-obsessed golden goose has become one of the most successful non-Disney owned franchises of the modern era. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, the franchise’s first official spin-off, sticks closely to the proven formula of its predecessors.
Long-standing series writer Chris Morgan, who co-wrote this film with Drew Pearce, stays so close to his winning playbook that he literally lifts Fast & Furious 6’s epic climax and transplants it onto the longest cliffside road in Samoa. However, what the film lacks in originality it makes up for in unabashed entertainment.
Moving up the roster from supporting players to center stage where they belong, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) find themselves reluctantly joining forces once again to save the world. This time around the threat comes from a sinister tech organization called Eteon that wants to unleash a deadly virus. As luck would have it, the virus in question is currently embedded in Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent who is on the lamb after being framed for murder. Of course, Hobbs and Shaw are not the only ones on Hattie’s tail. Former special forces agent Brixton (Idris Elba), who is now half-man and half machine, will stop at nothing to reclaim the virus for Eteon.
How did Brixton become a cyborg? Who is the mysterious voice pulling all the strings at Eteon? How exactly does Brixton’s motorcycle work? These are pressing questions that Hobbs & Shaw clearly has no interest in answering.
Morgan and director David Leitch are fully aware that one walks into the Fast & Furious universe not for the plot, but rather the over-the-top action and the comedic banter. Two things that this Tango & Cash clone has in spades.
For 135 minutes the audience is treated to outlandish car chases, numerous fight sequences, and enough bullets to build a tiny house out of. When the titular characters are not dispensing with bad guys, they are threatening to beat each other to a pulp. Frankly it is amazing that they even have time to sermonize about the importance of family, a staple in these films and the drinking games they have inspired, as many times as they do.
While Hobbs & Shaw, thankfully, never takes itself too seriously, there are a couple of great comedic surprises throughout that help to keep the film moving at a brisk pace. The addition of Vanessa Kirby is also a godsend as she brings back the female badass quota that was sorely missing from Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious. Never willing to play the roll of the damsel in distress, Kirby exudes a charisma and confidence that ensures she is never overshadowed.
Speaking of the main franchise in the universe, which reportedly has only two films left, Hobbs & Shaw both plants the seeds for the series to possibly address the #JusticeforHan elephant in the room, while exposing the void that Paul Walkers’ absence has left on the series. Walker’s Brian O’Conner was the Ying that complimented the Yang of Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto. While 2 Fast 2 Furious showed O’Conner could survive without Toretto, the reverse has not yet been proven.
By comparison, both Hobbs and Shaw are charming enough to shoulder this type of film on their own, however, together they are a dynamic duo. Johnson and Statham’s chemistry is so good that one does not mind watching them crack jokes and jaws for a couple of hours.
Easily the funniest film in the Fast & Furious universe, Hobbs & Shaw opens up new roads for this spin-off franchise to travel down.