Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Hobbs & Shaw puts the family back in the Fast & Furious franchise. It's wildly entertaining and so damn over-the-top, but it gets the job done, aside from a few unneeded characters and tie-ins. David Leitch brings steady direction to Chris Morgan's never-ending ability to continue churning out these thrill rides of absurdity.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is the most wholesomely entertaining Fast & Furious movie since Fast Five broke the mold and transformed the simple car heist series into a global phenomenon that keeps growing larger and more insane with each entry. That being said, Hobbs & Shaw is at-times unnecessary, going a little too over-the-top with its ambitions and attempt at spinning even more spin offs (is that a thing now?) from a series that use to just be about going fast.
The world is faced with yet another deadly scenario as a life-stopping virus gets put in the “wrong” hands, which makes the governments that be call upon both Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to intercept Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) before she collides with super-solider bad guy Brixton (Idris Elba), who just so happens to be hell-bent on ushering in a new era of chaos and destruction. Now, in typical Fast & Furious fashion — it’s time to ride or die.
Hobbs & Shaw kicks thing into high gear almost immediately, establishing the ludicrous plot at the very same moment it introduces us to Idris Elba‘s Brixton — a mash-up of a Terminator and Superman all-in-one. Elba’s Brixton might just be one of the most enjoyably bad ass pieces of this wild Fast & Furious puzzle, as he presents a truly engaging bad guy that kicks a ton of ass and makes it look super cool while doing so.
I will admit that the past F&F villains have grown rather stale, including Jason Statham‘s acrobatic Shaw — yes, a bright moment in an otherwise forgettable list of baddies to the series, but even Shaw can only go so far with Vin Diesel before things grow quite old.
Elba’s Brixton on the other hand, introduces a whole new level of super-soldier/super-spy/secret seedy government organization that opens up the Fast & Furious world even more. Elba knows how to pull off the cool and cocky, yet laser-focused and determined look and his performance is absolutely aces.
The rest of the film unfolds in typical Fast & Furious fashion, meaning there’s a lot of action, explosions and over-pumped machismo. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham collide with lightning and fireworks that makes for hilarious moments and over-powering bro-ness. It’s silly and fun, while occasionally just a little too stupid, but it’s all in good nature.
The traditional Fast & Furious franchise overly pumps in the family aspect, as the series is just an over-budgeted ABC Network drama, whereas Hobbs & Shaw tones that down initially, only to jam it down your throat towards the end. I will admit that the Samoa stuff felt way too forced for my liking, but it paved the way for some great set pieces and a sick helicopter chase that you just have to see to believe.
The rest of Hobbs & Shaw plays out exactly like you’d expect, with series veteran writer Chris Morgan (and Drew Pearce) continuing to bring the characters together for the most ridiculous moments that are so unbelievably silly, yet incredibly fun. It’s kind of hard not to clap when Elba’s character drives a shape-shifting motorcycle that chases Johnson and Statham through explosion after explosion.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw brings the series back to life, after a severely lacking last installment that made me start to think about how much gas was really left in the tank. Its focus on family might feel forced towards the end, but the rest of the film reaffirms the small-scaled intentions of the larger-than-life characters that are constantly causing destruction everywhere that they go.
Director David Leitch brings a class of action directing to the franchise that has sorely been missing. Only Furious 7 director James Wan was able to inject enough visual energy to set his film apart from the rest, while Justin Lin proved to be a steady, if not reliable director that had some very strong highlights, but mostly kept things consistent. Leitch kills the colors, but improves the action choreography and fluidity of most sequences altogether — Hobbs & Shaw feels like the most comprehensible film yet.
There are still whole moments that easily could’ve been removed or characters and tie-ins that didn’t need to happen, but clearly Universal is going the way of the MCU and with that comes some Iron Man 2 flexing that is surely only going to get worse before it can get better. And I’m mostly onboard with that, because Hobbs & Shaw presents a certain amount of mindless fun that’s been missing from the summer blockbuster slate this year.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is the best straight-forward Fast & Furious movie since the iconic Fast Five (not including the touching tribute to Paul Walker in Furious 7) and if the quality is always this high, then I’m more than willing to keep returning to these characters for different side-missions and adventures that don’t always need to involve the one-note Vin Diesel and his narrowing family.