Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw movie review: Yet another crazy film from an unstoppable franchise
A mindless entertainer that predominantly relies on the action and drama the franchise is known for
What Dominic Toretto says in Furious 7 — "I don't have friends. I got family." — is precisely the essence of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Beneath all the bling, cars, exotic locations, and high-flying action, it's about family and the team going to extreme lengths to safeguard this clan. After eight films emphasising this, the first spin-off of the franchise, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, takes it up a notch.
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby
As the name implies, the film follows the trials and tribulations of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), two characters who were introduced late into the main franchise. So far we knew little about their personal lives, and very early in Hobbs & Shaw, these details are established. Hobbs lives alone with his daughter whose drawing of a family tree has only two leaves. Shaw regularly visits his jailbird mother, who tells him to keep a check on his sister, Hattie (a very efficient Vanessa Kirby), whom he is no longer in touch with. Then, we're shown the bigger problem — a former MI6 field agent Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) who has gone rogue and become a terrorist mastermind wanting to... you guessed it, wipe humanity off the face of Earth. If that's too cliched for you, he is cyber-genetically enhanced and calls himself Black Superman. He wears a suit similar to the Quantum Realm suits from Avengers: Endgame, and walks around like Robocop on steroids. Lore rides a bike that can transform into anything and puts the one used by Aamir Khan in Dhoom 3 to shame. And for no reason whatsoever, the fate of the world is in the hands of Hobbs and Shaw who, obviously, hate each other, but are forced to team up for the greater good.
Fans of bright-coloured supercars though are in for some disappointment in Hobbs & Shaw. The Paganis, Lykans, and the franchise's favourite Dodge Charger are traded for just one McLaren, a Triumph Speed Triple, and a bunch of huge trucks to complement the build of Johnson. Even the climax sequence, where the characters put the pedal to the metal (and also where we get to see the beloved nitrous switches in action) feel forced. What we get instead are some brilliant hand-combat shots that are aesthetically choreographed and captured, something I would opt for any day. And director David Leitch brings his experience of creating John Wick and Atomic Blonde to these sequences. He also gives us some awesome cameos and sprinkles references to films such as Harry Potter, Terminator, Marvel films, and even Game of Thrones resulting in a fair few chuckles. The primary clash between the two leads, or "two apex predators" as one character calls them, leads to a lot of trash-talking, which too gives us some funny lines. This banter, though not always effective, helps keep the momentum going at places where there's little action.
On the scale of spy thrillers about saving the world, Hobbs & Shaw would be placed exactly between the James Bond films and its spoof, Johnny English. Speaking about 007, this film reminded me of Skyfall, where the lead gets back to his ancestral land in order to lure the enemy to his home turf. But unlike the lone British agent, here, we're introduced to Hobbs' Samoan family who prefer clubs over guns and Siva Tau (war dance) over annoying pre-fight chats. We even get to see WWE star Roman Reigns as one of Hobbs' brothers, however, he looks so out of place in front of the camera. And while we're at James Bond, how can I forget the man who would look picture perfect as the next 007? Idris Elba's swagger is a few levels more than required for the rather unvarying, typical villain here with opinions on human evolution that would make the ghost of Charles Darwin smack his forehead.
Over the years, the degree of women objectification has been on a downward slope in the Fast and Furious franchise, but it's not completely gone yet. In one of the first scenes, during a fight sequence, Hobbs looks at a woman's tattoos on her chest and casually says, "Nice tats." Thankfully, that is not followed by him looking at the camera and bringing up his eyebrow to give an 'If-you-know-what-I-mean' look. The romance portions are completely out of place. Most of the action sequences look way too good to be true. However, if you expect the laws of physics to work in this world, you must have been living under a rock.
Hobbs & Shaw is a mindless entertainer that works predominantly because of its reliance on the action and drama the franchise is known for. That said this could easily have been a standalone film since it never makes you miss the original crew, including the franchise mainstay Vin Diesel. Hobbs & Shaw thus looks set to carry the franchise forward on top gear.