By Chic DiCiccio
Look, after eight “Fast and Furious” movies, you know what you’re going to get. There’s going to be unapologetic action, one-liners and a teensy tiny bit of story. It’s the ultimate switch-off-your-brain franchise and peak movie escapism.
“Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is no different. Except it kind of is. It’s a spin-off that takes the two most fun and interesting characters of the franchise, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), and sticks them smack dab in a 1980s-style buddy action-comedy.
Nearly every single second of it is an absolute blast. Sure, there are only so many times that a person can watch a slow-motion punch connect with someone’s face before eye-rolling yourself into a cinematic coma, but it’s so much fun that nobody should mind. It also helps to have four actors that are clearly committed to this insanity.
The entire premise of “Hobbs & Shaw” revolves around a deadly biological weapon called Snowflake. Naturally, it can wipe out humanity and an evil terrorist organization called Etheon wants to get their hands on it. An MI6 agent, Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), injects the virus into her own body in an effort to keep it away from a genetically enhanced super criminal, Brixton Lore (Idris Elba, perfectly evil and ruthless).
After a few incredibly clever and fun cameos, Hobbs and Shaw are brought in to find Hattie, who is also Shaw’s little sister. They globe hop. They have over-the-top car chases.
So, you know, there’s that whole “Fast and Furious” stuff that we all knew would be coming.
However, “Hobbs & Shaw” is so surprisingly funny that some of the action becomes secondary. Johnson and Statham were seemingly born to be adversarial pals and their rat-a-tat zingers are on “Riggs and Murtaugh” levels of enjoyment. Once Kirby joins in and begins slamming each of them, you’ve got yourself a quality three-person comedy team.
Not to knock the previous directors, but “Hobbs & Shaw” fully benefits from having a full-fledged action director like David Leitch behind the camera.
The slick and perfectly choreographed fight scenes that he perfected in “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde” are a match made in action nerd heaven for Johnson, Statham and Elba.
The Samoa-based finale is particularly enthralling as it combines Leitch’s style with shots that stay true to the “Fast and Furious” franchise. This is a textbook lesson for filmmakers that enter a franchise and are still able to put their personal spin on it. Sure, Hobbs essentially fights a helicopter, and Shaw doesn’t break a sweat in 100 degree heat while wearing a jacket … but it’s somehow borderline believable.
Make no mistake, “Hobbs & Shaw” is totally silly. If you pick apart the plot, you’re going to find it riddled with holes and nonsense. It’s a bit too long, either due to one too many quips or extended action sequences, but Johnson and Statham’s charisma overcomes all the flaws. There’s really not a better way to end the goofy time that is summer movie season.