During the past few years there’s been no shortage of drama between cast members of the Fast and Furious franchise, but the latest flick—the laboriously-titled spin-off Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw—leaves all the drama behind to focus on the action (with a dollop of comedy thrown in for good measure). And in the end do we really care about all the chest-thumping if the final product delivers?
Hobbs & Shaw certainly does just that, and though its standing with audiences will ultimately depend on whose side you’re on (if you even care enough to take sides at all), there’s little debate about the film’s pure entertainment value. It’s a rock-’em, sock-’em heckuva time, which, despite a thin script and even thinner characters, still manages to give you all the bang you need for your buck.
As F&F fans already know, Luke Hobbs (Dwyane Johnson) is a laid-back, thundercloud of a man who kicks butt first and may or may not ask questions later. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is a tad more refined, though the end result is the same. They don’t like each other, but they’re kind of on the same team now, so when the world’s intelligence community asks them to find a missing super-virus, they agree to disagree and just stay out of each other’s way.
Complicating matters is the fact that Deckard’s sister, MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), has injected the virus into her own body to keep it from falling into the hands of the cybernetic Brixton (Idris Elba), a self-professed bad guy working with a shady multi-national to weaponize the drug.
For those of you keeping score at home, that means the oil-and-vinegar Hobbs and Shaw must work together to fight an unbeatable foe in a race against the clock, as fist-fights, car chases, and shootouts happen all around them in a variety of exotic locales. So yes, it’s standard F&F fare, but would we really want it any other way?
You would think scripter Chris Morgan, who’s written every flick in the franchise since 2006’s Tokyo Drift (the third entry), would be running out of ways to write “insert car chase here” on a piece of paper, and, frankly, you’d be right. But at the same time we’re not snuggling up with our bucket o’ popcorn in this particular theater for intricate subplots and subtle character arcs. It’s enough to just have a point A, a point B, and a sorta-straight line between them.
Director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) knows this, too, and wisely decided to focus his efforts on stunts and visuals and stunts and manly men and stunts and fierce (attractive) women. The action hops from London to Moscow to Samoa (though it’s really Scotland, England, and Hawaii), and there may be a total of ten combined minutes in the entire movie when someone isn’t flying a helicopter, driving a truck, or starting a fight (or, bonus, all three at once).
Hobbs & Shaw certainly corners the market in pure testosterone-driven fun, and there’s more than enough to justify a ticket if this is the sort of thing that makes life worth living. Just make sure your expectations are at the same level as they were for Tokyo Drift, and all will be right with the world.