“Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw” may be one of the dumbest, most over-the-top, unrealistic films I’ve seen all year. Its bloated 2 hour and 16 minute runtime is filled with nothing but banter, victory-less fights, banter, explosions, banter, and car chases that would make anyone with a basic understanding of physics sob. And it was probably the most fun I’ve had at a movie all year.
If you watched “Furious 7” and “The Fate of the Furious,” and thought to yourself, “Wow, I’d watch an entire movie of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters,” congratulations, this movie was made specifically for you. As someone who walked away from those movies with this exact thought, I was thrilled to hear the announcement of a “Hobbs and Shaw” spinoff, and this film did not disappoint in the slightest.
“Hobbs and Shaw” is a film that, above all, knows exactly what it is and what it is supposed to be. Gone are the days of drag racing, Coronas, and family. Those will be saved for the upcoming “Fast and Furious 9.”
By keeping the focus on the two most superhuman characters, the franchise is given never-before-seen permission to go fully over-the-top. For a franchise that transitioned from simple stories about drag racers to explosion-filled secret agent films, this is really saying something. The movie does not even pretend to have any substance, with its heightened plot about superbugs, genocide, and shadowy tech cults purely included as an excuse for our leads to exchange one-liners and fight a genetically modified Idris Elba.
The film rests heavily on Statham and Johnson’s palpable chemistry as the eponymous characters. While the script probably is overstuffed with one-liners, insults, and pointless tiffs that do not advance the plot or characters in any way, the plot does not actually matter, and there is basically no character development, aside from the obvious of Hobbs and Shaw learning to put aside their differences to save the world. The constant childish squabbling reaches ridiculous heights, to the point where several characters in universe call them out for prioritizing their clash of egos over the fate of the world, but this bickering and comedic competition of masculinity and virility is what drives the film more than any world-ending scenario.
While the movie is driven by the banter, the over-the-top action sequences are the gas. A gritty shoot-out cold-open transitions immediately to a surprisingly well-shot side-by-side introduction to our co-protagonists that culminates in highly stylized combat sequences. There are three excellent car-chases, reminding us that this is the Fast and Furious universe, including one in the climax that reaches ludicrous heights of unrealism (even for a Fast and Furious movie), but was an absolute joy to watch.
This is a film that expects audiences to believe that a man can lasso a moving helicopter with a chain to tie it to a truck maneuvering the picturesque cliffs of Samoa. The insanity of the action just adds to the film’s fun. It doesn’t bog itself down with attempts at realism, and just allows the movie to exist in this heightened world where even the non-genetically-enhanced characters are basically superhuman.
The supporting cast is charming and energetic, excellent additions to the film. Elba is menacing and hilarious as the villain, who brilliantly refers to himself as “Black Superman” due to his technological enhancements. His analytic contact lenses were redolent of the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films, albeit less stylized and higher-tech.
Vanessa Kirby, best known for playing Princess Margaret on Netflix’s “The Crown,” more than holds her own as Shaw’s sister and Hobbs sort-of love interest, deftly walking the line between straight-man to the titular character’s antics without sapping all the fun from the insanity. Further, surprise cameos from Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds caused some of the film’s biggest laughs, with both playing over-eager law enforcement agents with a borderline stalker-ish interest in working with our heroes.
If you go into “Hobbs and Shaw” expecting anything other than a goofy, over-the-top action film, then you will be gravely disappointed. However, if a charming, chemistry-filled film that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and just allows the audience to have fun amid the insanity, then this is the movie for you. “Hobbs and Shaw” is a fun, more than a little ridiculous movie, and I look forward to see what they do with these characters next.