THE ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, which started as a car heist flick, has had a total of 8 movies so far. Now comes the spin off, ‘Hobbs & Shaw’, secondary characters before to Vin Diesel and his gang but now take center stage in a movie of their own. Luke Hobbs is The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson, who works with America’s Diplomatic Security Service, while Deckard Shaw is Jason Statham, a former British military operative. The Rock was first seen in FF5 in 2011. Statham was first seen in FF6 in 2013.
These are two alpha males with their tongues in their cheeks and their first encounter together was in FF7 in 2015, where they couldn’t get along and always try to put each other down. Now, they’re brought together again, but the movie does not start with them but with Hattie (Vanessa Kirby, Princess Margaret in “The Crown” and White Widow in “Mission Impossible - Fallout”), an M16 agent who has intercepted a deadly man-made virus from the villain, Brixton (Idris Elba), a cyborg superman who wants to wipe out the weakest humans on the planet.
To protect the virus from him, she injects it into her own bloodstream. Take note that women are usually objectified in the FF series and are often second fiddle to the Diesel and company. But here, Hattie figures in her own action set pieces while the two leads, Hobbs & Shaw, are called in to protect her.
It turns out that Hattie is the sister of Shaw, in which case the title of the movie should have been Hobbs and the Shaws as there are two fighting Shaws in it. They now have to extract the virus from her body before it kills her and the virus spreads. The rest of the movie shows the major characters bickering, fighting with each other while they get into outrageous chase scenes and explosions that lead to the climactic showdown in Samoa, The Rock’s homeland.
There are many exciting action sequences staged all throughout. One of the most amazing shows Idris and his henchmen rushing down the side of a skyscraper while attached to cables. Hobbs free falls to chase them while Shaw chooses to take the scenic elevator. Then there’s the helicopter that tries to fly away but Hobbs and Shaw manage to chain it on a big truck.
As the helicopter lifts the truck off the ground, more trucks are hooked on to the first truck to add more weight while the entire chain of vehicles threaten to careen off a high cliff. One may complain that the action set pieces are bloated, over the top, but there’s no denying they work as they’re very well staged. So just sit back, relax, and just let the loud escapist spectacle full of high octane sound and fury signifying nothing take over you. By film’s end, you will feel tired with so much action going and it really feels like too much of a good thing.
Chemistry is very important in this kind of vehicle and you have to give it to The Rock, Statham and the ass-kicking Kirby as they make it all work as they trade barbs, quips and wisecracks. But throughout all the insults and put downs, you know that they’ve got each other’s backs. There are many comic scenes that work, including references to “Lord of the Rings”, “The Terminator” and even “Game of Thrones” where they even reveal how the series ends.
The movie is directed by David Leitch, the former stuntman who helped start the “John Wick” franchise and also did “Atomic Blonde” and “Deadpool 2”, He made sure it has a lighter touch compared to the previous FF movies. The movie ends with an indication that they will have a “Hobbs & Shaw, Part 2”, as seen in the end credits preview. There are also big stars appearing in cameos, like Helen Mirren as the mother of the Shaws, Kevin Hart as an air marshall and, yes, Ryan Reynolds as The Rock’s contact man.
The action goes around the globe from L.A. to London to Russia and ends in the tropical beauty of Samoa where The Rock is melodramatically reunited with his estranged family. All in all, it’s a U.S. summer popcorn flick that accomplishes its intentions, gets its job done, even if it is fitfully entertaining.