Hobbs & Shaw review Dwayne Johnson Jason Statham Idris Elba

Year: 2019
Director(s): David Leitch
Writer(s): Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Rating: PG-13
Digital, Color, 137 mins

Synopsis: Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance to save the future of humanity. (Source)

After eight films of cars, superhuman feats and family, the Fast and Furious franchise finally has its first spin-off. Not that we were clamoring for it, but, man, it’s amazing. Coming in hot off of John Wick and Deadpool 2, director David Leitch is a perfect fit for the universe expansion. His take is a blend of insane action with unexpected comedic chops and heart. This is the first of the franchise film to actually feel like a muscle car. It’s fast, relentless and sleek. Oh, and it sounds like a trash-talking bro who hits like a freight truck. 

After assembling to aid Dom and family in Fast 8, DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and disgraced MI6 agent Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are on opposite ends of the Earth. Hobbs in Los Angeles balancing work while raising a precocious daughter, and Shaw is in London, laying low. After Shaw’s MI6 sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), is forced underground, the two men are begrudgingly brought together to help thwart worldwide disaster. With Shaw’s sister in the wind, Hobbs and Shaw team up against a seemingly invincible foe (Idris Elba) and the global, extinction-level threat he represents.  

Like the best spin-offs, Leitch’s film takes full liberties with the material. It’s greatest strength is a subtle but unmissable tonal shift, driving the franchise into uncharted, sci-fi territory. Imagine Bond embroiled in a global threat that entails hi-tech viral weapons, an evil, mythical corporation and cybernetic upgrades that signal the evolution of man. Yep, it’s really that crazy. And because of the film’s commitment to it all, the story is free to go ALL OUT. The escalating action scenes involve land, sea and air, furious car-chases with transforming, technically advanced vehicles, a stronghold break-in, and even some good-ol Samoan beat downs. It all culminates into a showdown that’s too good to be true. Needless to say, nothing in this film ever lets up or wastes an opportunity to dial things up to 200%.

Hobbs & Shaw review Vanessa Kirby

The most unexpected part of the film (that really shouldn’t be a surprise), is the fast, whip-smart humor and banter from its two stars. A good chunk of the film consists of Hobbs and Shaw trash talking each other into the ground. These juvenile insults are hurled as furiously as any punch or kick. Leitch and the script from Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce understand exactly how to wring out the best of Johnson and Statham. The trick is that each scene’s ridiculous dialogue is delivered with the most irresistible straight face. Yes, the film is funny and silly, but always sold in the most serious, deadpan way. At this point, The Rock and Statham could just sit at a table and be worth the price of admission. It’s ultimately Johnson and Statham’s balance of physicality and charisma that earns the film its charm. There are also a host of inspired cameos and a backing cast (Elba included), who understand the film’s over-the-top nature. Everyone modulates each scene perfectly. As Shaw’s sister, Hattie, Vanessa Kirby holds her own in terms of presence despite her role being more functional than fleshed out. Still, Kirby is incredible and clearly deserves to have a more integral role next time out. 

After Fast 8’s stunning failure to recover post Paul Walker (admittedly not an easy task), Hobbs and Shaw is a welcome change of pace. It pushes past what the Fast films have been able to do thus far, and is just pure bliss if this is your kinda thing (it’s def mine). At any rate, I hope to see more of this lunacy. I’m sure the film is going to hold up through multiple, crazed viewings. It’s the equivalent of pitch-perfect cinematic junk food – you know too much of it’s a bad thing, but wow I can’t stop shoving it down my face.