Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (hereafter simply referred to as “Hobbs and Shaw”) is directed by David Leitch. The film stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Kevin Hart, and Ryan Reynolds. It’s a spin-off of The Fast and the Furious franchise, and the ninth entry in the series total.
Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, two men with no desire to work together whatsoever, are called into action when a mysterious virus created by the mysterious Etheon group, is stolen by a rogue agent. The two must set aside their differences as they face opposition from Etheon’s operative Brixton, who’s been cybernetically enhanced and kept alive by a mysterious entity. The duo, teaming with Shaw’s sister, and an ensemble of other allies, must do battle with Etheon and Brixton, while doing what is necessary to extract the virus, preventing a potential global plague.
That plot summary was a mouthful, to say the least. But Hobbs and Shaw is basically an action-packed movie with plenty of witty banter served up by its two leading men. While the two-hour-plus running time is too excessive for a film like this, and the villain feels more like he belongs in the Terminator franchise, it’s an action-packed good time.
Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are world-renowned movie stars at this point, and audiences who’ve seen these two before will have a pretty good idea what to expect from them at this point in time. Not that that’s a bad thing. The banter and less-than-favorable moments between the two are laugh-out-loud funny, which is a nice balance to the action-packed approach the movie takes, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. Yet the film isn’t afraid to paint a slightly more human side to its characters, including family relationships of sorts on both sides of the spectrum. As much as it pains me to admit it, this was the first time I’d ever seen a movie in The Fast & The Furious franchise, but if they’re all this entertaining, I’ve got plenty of catching up to do after I finish writing this review!
The supporting cast fares well too, including a criminally-underused Helen Mirren (and I use the word "criminal" figuratively and literally), and Vanessa Kirby as Deckard Shaw’s sister (expect plenty of family drama here!) There are bit parts from Ryan Reynolds (who director Leitch had previously directed in Deadpool 2) and Kevin Hart (Dwayne Johnson’s co-star from the Jumanji franchise), but thankfully these two are used sparingly and never overshadow the core cast. Their moments are packed with plenty of highlights, though, and these moments definitely steal the show.
Honestly, the plot is a bit of a mess. There’s something about a virus which is stolen early in the film. Idris Elba, though he does great with the material he’s given, has a weird sort of sci-fi presence which feels like it would be more at home in the Terminator franchise (which is even name-dropped early in the film). And he takes orders from a strange AI/computer which feels like the love child of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the “Kill Mode” from the suit in Spider-Man Homecoming. Did we really need science fiction elements in what would have been a perfectly fine action movie without it?
The other issue bogging down the film is the overlong running time, which comes in at over two hours. It could’ve been a tighter and more focused film with a little more editing and some plot removal, which a movie like this has simply too much of (I often criticize movies for having too little plot, but in this case it’s the opposite). About 20 minutes could easily have been removed with no real loss of substance.
Hobbs and Shaw isn’t perfect. Action comedies are a dime a dozen these days, but thankfully, this is one of the better ones. Looking for entertaining in the theater this summer? You could do a whole lot worse than Hobbs and Shaw, which has a little something for everyone. Solidly recommended.
Rating: Three stars out of four.
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