Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw - Review

The Fast & Furious franchise has been going longer than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is still going strong. 2019 brought the franchises very first spinoff in Hobbs & Shaw, a ridiculous action adventure movie that is just pure stupid fun!

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are charismatic and charming anytime they are on screen. When you put them together, it doubles all of that, and the results are very entertaining. Hobbs & Shaw is only loosely connected to the Fast & Furious franchise. Lots of elements presented in the parent franchise are largely ignored here for the sake of the story. For instance, the movie neglects to remind you that Statham's Deckard Shaw has a brother (which is what brought him into the franchise in the first place) and that he killed a beloved character of the franchise. Likewise, with Johnson's Hobbs, they lightened him up considerably. He is funnier and campier than he was in Fast Five and beyond. It is almost like this was an Elseworlds tale using alternate versions of the same characters.

In fact, if you shed the Fast & Furious branding, and made this completely unrelated, it would work just as well. This is the least like any of the Fast & Furious movies to date. It plays more like a Mission: Impossible movie, even going so far as to borrow the plot from Mission: Impossible II.

On the other hand, the thing that makes this unmistakably a Fast & Furious movie is the focus on family. Family has been a central theme of the franchise for years. While Hobbs & Shaw had a slightly different take on it, it still focused on that subject. The movie did a good job resolving family issues with both of the leads.

Hobbs & Shaw did more than just serve as a holdover until Fast & Furious 9 comes out next year. It did work to cement this as its own franchise. There were a few really fun and interesting A-list cameos that could serve as a future team outside of Vin Diesel's "family" and their adventures. There are none of the cameos you think will happen, but when the cameos do happen, they make sense from an outside perspective. Due to the feud between Johnson and Diesel, I doubt they will ever be on screen again. But now it seems that two franchises will run concurrently in the same universe.

David Leitch, who directed Deadpool 2 brought some of his signature action and humor to Hobbs & Shaw. The action scenes were big, bold, and extreme. It is hard not to have a big stupid smile on your face while watching what is just pure pulp popcorn entertainment.

The most pleasant surprise of the film was how incredible Vanessa Kirby was. She held her own opposite Statham and Johnson which is a difficult task. If you can get over the fact that Kirby (born in 1988) and Statham (born in 1967) are supposed to play siblings only a few years apart, then the rest works perfectly.

This movie won't win any awards. But you will be hard pressed to find a more entertaining summer movie this year. There is comedy, heart, humor, action, and spectacle. The story works, contained as its own thing. How it fits into the Fast & Furious world by introducing sci-fi elements, is another conversation. It is one of the rare spinoffs that you need absolutely zero context from any of the previous Fast & Furious films to be able to enjoy this in its entirety. I could go so far as to say that having "Fast & Furious" in the title hurt the films chances of gaining a new audience, who might not like the other movies or would have certain expectations from it.

The film presents the age-old discussion about technology vs humanity. While that conversation is present in many action-adventures, it feels more relevant than ever as our real world gets more inundated with VR and better medical technology. It certainly didn't feel like it was stale or that it held the story back. Idris Elba was a wonderful villain, that had personal stakes and fit into the revised history of Deckard Shaw quite well. He wasn't just a "mustache-twirler" hellbent on world domination due to a power trip. The film left enough mystery on the table to be able to return to was set up here in a future installment, but still provided closure for the story that was being told.

I left wanting more of Statham and Johnson going on adventures with each other. It is probably going to happen. I liken Hobbs & Shaw to a treat you can buy from an ice cream truck. It is not a high end dessert served at a country club. There are more delectable, and expensive items out there. But on a hot summer day, sometimes there is nothing better than a pre-packaged licensed ice cream treat with gumballs for eyes.

If you want an entertaining, funny, action adventure movie that doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't, you could do worse that Hobbs & Shaw. It is a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve. Like how Fast Five is the turning point from racing franchise to pure heist movie, Hobbs & Shaw might mark the next evolution of the franchise that lives its life a quarter mile at a time.

I don't really like the term "Popcorn Movie", but if there was ever a film to fit that description, it's this one. That isn't an insult. Sometimes you just want something from the ice cream truck.

A lot of awful things happened this weekend, and this film provided me with an escape that gave me a big goofy smile through most of it. That makes it okay in my book.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is now in theaters everywhere.


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