Remember when The Fast and the Furious was basically Point Break, except the surfing was replaced with drag racing? Somewhere down the road, the drag racing angle got ditched in favor of a heist/spy theme. In Hobbs & Shaw, the series has pretty much veered into superhero territory. Our titular duo might not wear spandex suits, but both are virtually indestructible and always have a clever quip on hand. The villain is even a criminal mastermind with superhuman abilities who describes himself as a “black Superman.” On top of all that, an actor who’s known for playing a Marvel superhero makes an extended cameo. If Disney sets its eyes on buying Comcast next, they might as well have Hobbs and Shaw team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. In all seriousness, a Fast and Furious movie set in space wouldn’t be a stretch.
The film’s over-the-top nature is by no means a criticism. On the contrary, this is one franchise where jumping the shark is encouraged. Unlike those Sharknado movies, however, The Fast and the Furious series has never quite gotten to the point where the lunacy is insulting to the viewer’s intelligence. Hobbs & Shaw is one of those movies where the actors are constantly winking at the camera and we can’t help but wink back. The cast is fully aware that they’re making a ridiculous action extravaganza, so why not have some fun with it? What we get is just the right amount of stupid balanced out by some inventive cinematography and strong character dynamics.
The feud between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson was apparent in The Fate of the Furious, as the two reportedly shot none of their scenes together. So, it only made sense to give Johnson’s Luke Hobbs a spinoff. What made even more sense was to add Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw into the equation. Hobbs and Shaw’s love/hate bromance proved to be a highlight of the previous film, leaving us all eager to see more of that macho rivalry. Naturally, Hobbs and Shaw aren’t especially thrilled to see each other again when they’re both recruited to bring down Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), an agent turned terrorist who’s now more machine than man. The guys are forced to set their differences aside, though, when a beautiful dame enters the mix.
Vanessa Kirby was a bombshell in Mission: Impossible – Fallout and she’s even more resilient here as Hattie Shaw, Deckard’s estranged sister. Hattie has been exposed to a deadly virus that Lore wishes to unleash upon humanity. With the clock ticking, our heroes must find a way to extract the virus while also dodging cars, bullets, and helicopters. In the midst of all the insanity, there’s room for a little romance between Hobbs and Hattie. Of course, the real love story here is between Johnson and Statham, whose chemistry is more than enough to carry the film.
As great as our leads are, Hobbs & Shaw isn’t without a few missed opportunities. Eiza González is underutilized as a mysterious ally known as Madam M and the film could’ve used a lot more of Helen Mirren as Shaw’s incarcerated mother. None of the action sequences top the runway chase from Fast & Furious 6 or the C-130 drop from Furious 7. Nevertheless, director David Leitch of Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde still delivers several high-octane set pieces, most notably an explosive escape from a power station. It’s the humor that really sets this buddy picture apart, however, as Johnson and Statham swap enough hilarious insults to fill a Comedy Central Roast. Considering that these two men can burn rubber, it’s fitting that they’d both be skilled in the art of sick burns.