Who would have though that the Fast & Furious will become one of the biggest franchises with over 8 instalments and its own spin-off? Not me, at least. And yet, here we are. Watching a film that proves there is no reason for Fast & Furious to have its own spin-off.
Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a big, American agent, always ready to kick ass with some humour. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is a small(er), British agent, always ready to kick ass with some elegance. They don’t like each other. However, they must cooperate to save the world and find Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), who has a deadly virus, capable of destroying the world. Hobbs and Shaw aren’t the only ones going after Hattie and they soon face the the film’s villain, super-soldier Brixton (Idris Elba). The plot doesn’t get more complicated than this, as the action is what moves the film forward. If you like the Fast & Furious films, you will probably be satisfied with this one. If not, I highly suggest checking out other (and better) work from the director David Leitch.
The film is called Hobbs & Shaw, but its the titular characters that make for one of my least favourite aspects of it. Both The Rock and Statham sleepwalk through the film, giving what is seemingly minimum effort. Statham comes out as the more memorable of the two, but only because The Rock doesn’t seem to care. They don’t bring anything new or exciting to their characters, and yet somehow manage to make their interactions entertaining. As individuals, I almost couldn’t stand them. But the way they play off each other is undeniably entertaining.
Idris Elba as the movie’s villain seems to be the only one who actually enjoyed playing his character. Brixton’s introduction to the film is amazing and Idris easily carries the film with his charisma. He poses as a formidable threat, as he easily beats both of them multiple times. Idris is not just a great physical actor, but he also delivers on all the drama and comedy the role requires. He is the one keeping Hobbs & Shaw alive.
Vanessa Kirby is the surprising standout of the film. She is the glue that holds the central trio together and prevents the film from breaking entirely. As an MI6 agent, she is no damsel in distress, which is a welcome change in this type of film. Kirby gets a few action scenes of her own, showcasing her ability to become a future action star.
The action in Hobbs & Shaw ranges from one-on-ones to large scale battles featuring a whole island. However, all of is is completely devoid of stakes. We know nothing serious will happen to either of the main characters. We are aware that they will manage to get out of any trouble, ideally with a funny one-liner.
The action itself is well choreographed and shot. The director clearly knows what he’s doing and the first few fights are entertaining to look at. As the action moves to bigger and more over-the-top set pieces, nearly all suspension of disbelief fades from the screen. The stakes are high and our heroes face tens of enemies. Whether it’s in a giant Ukrainian lab or on the entire island of Samoa, you don’t feel concerns for Hobbs or Shaw. At one point in the film, Brixton says: “I’m the black superman”. This feels more in line with the two main characters rather than Idris, as he’s the one who actually takes some punches and bleeds.
In a surprising cameo, Ryan Reynolds enters the film momentarily in the first act. He plays himself and still makes for one of the most memorable moments of the film. It is the funniest scene in the film, as Ryan brings his specific brand of humour. Shame that the film never manages to hit another comedic high-note like this again.
Walking out of Hobbs & Shaw, it was Brixton who I couldn’t stop thinking about. Not the two big undefeatable guys he spent the past two hours fighting against. The action is great when it is kept small, but less so when it moves to the third act. No matter how big and adrenaline-filled it gets, I couldn’t help but feel disconnected to it all. Hobbs and Shaw may play well together, but it’s the supporting characters that make the film worth watching.