Last night I had the chance to check out a press screening of HOBBS & SHAW, the brand-new spin-off of the Fast & Furious franchise and man oh man, was it an interesting ride. The film, directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2), reunites Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) in an unlikely alliance against a cyber-genetic enhanced villain capable of destroying humanity. The film stars Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Jason Statham (Crank), Idris Elba (Thor: Ragnarok), Vanessa Kirby (Netflix’s The Crown) and Helen Mirren (The Queen).
To best describe the film, I will turn to the official press synopsis: “Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (Johnson), a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (Statham), a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015’s Furious 7, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they’ve tried to take each other down. But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever – and bests a brilliant and fearless rogue M16 agent (Kirby), who just happens to be Shaw’s sister – these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves.”
Listen, we are 8 films deep into the Fast & Furious franchise and sure, after we reach 10 it’ll come to an end but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of offshoots to keep the fans happy. Though HOBBS & SHAW doesn’t hit all its notes, it’s still an action-packed, ridiculously over-the-top companion to what fans have expected from the Fast & Furious franchise. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham work incredibly well off of one another, especially when it came to insults and one-liners. Their characters are opposing factions but once they realize the severity of the situations they have found themselves in, they find a way to force themselves to work together. That said, it doesn’t mean that their animosity towards one another evaporates, it’s still ever-present and watching them compete for top dog is oftentimes hilarious, though eventually, it becomes overdone. I will say, that as a whole, the film feels like two dudes have a pissing contest but that’s luckily interrupted multiple times by Vanessa Kirby’s character. As the film progresses you can actually see Hattie’s frustration and exhaustion rising as she tries to mediate between Hobbs and Shaw. Speaking of Hattie, she is an absolute badass and, honestly, one of my favorite parts of the film. She can hold her own against the two men, which shows just how fearless and strong she is in light of the danger she has found herself in, while also calling out Hobbs and Shaw on their tiresome behavior between each other.
Without saying too much there are a few cameos that I think fans will appreciate it. I can’t urge you enough to NOT look at the IMDB page to figure out who those people are – go in as blind as you can and enjoy the surprise as much as we did. As for the villain himself, Idris Elba was fantastic and one of the only characters, outside of Hattie, who was more grounded in reality. Where Hobbs and Shaws consistently fought over who was better in between their somewhat adolescent insults at each other, Elba, as Brixton, is commanding and ferocious. Sure, he’s genetically altered as half man, half machine, but that doesn’t make him any less of a badass. I do wish we had a bit more time with him and less with Hobbs and Shaws mostly because he’s so dynamic. For a film that has a runtime of almost 2 hours and 20 min (which, come, let’s reel that in), we could have easily have had more screen time with Brixton. As far as the action goes, I would say that it was one of the stronger aspects of the film. There are some incredible scenes where cars and motorcycles are going under trucks, helicopters pulling jeeps off a cliff, and more. Just like the Fast & Furious franchise, the action is absurd but completely engaging. That said, there are some moments in-between the car chases and insanely choreographed fight scenes that seem to drag on way longer than needed. There’s also a noticeable change in tone from the first two-thirds of the film compared to the last third. It was almost as if we were watching a whole different movie once our heroes and villains arrived in Somoa for the final battle. I understand wanting to get the most bang for your buck, but I honestly thought the movie was over right before everyone arrived on Somoa. I honestly think this comes down to too many ideas and not enough pull back on what should or should not be in the film.
I know it might sound like I wasn’t a fan of the film, but, overall, I actually had a great time watching it. I think it had the majority of necessary pieces needed for a spinoff, I just think it needed to be fine-tuned. I don’t know what the future holds for this new series, but I’m not against seeing Hobbs & Shaw in other films. I think at some point though, the whole “who has a bigger dick” competition between the two is going to get tiring. That said, I hope that whoever is responsible for writing future films finds inventive ways to move past that storyline into something new. Furthermore, I would love to see more women kicking ass as they did in this film. Hell, I would love a Fast & Furious film that focused on the women in the franchise – that’s a concept that I think many people would get on board for. But for now, we have HOBBS & SHAW and though it’s far from perfect, there’s enough action, random cameos, and mindless humor to keep you entertained throughout. HOBBS & SHAW arrives in theaters this Friday, August 2nd.