When you go to a Fast & Furious movie, you expect three things: Fun, physics-defying action, and family dynamics. I’m happy to say that the franchise spin-off Hobbs & Shaw absolutely delivers on all three counts. David Leitch‘s entry into the high-octane film series fires on all cylinders thanks to great on-screen chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham‘s title characters, as well as meaningful additions from the other leads, Vanessa Kirby and Idris Elba. And it’s the willingness of the film to embrace some truly out-there sci-fi concepts that elevate Hobbs & Shaw to the next level.
Universal Pictures opted for a mouthful of a title with Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, but they just as easily could have called this movie Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw & Hattie & Brixton a.k.a. Black Superman & Family & Friends. There are so many moving pieces to this jigsaw puzzle being put together at 100mph that it’s a miracle that it all works as seamlessly as it does. And that’s without folding in the dozen or so other characters from the main Fast & Furious timeline. Sorry, folks; don’t get your hopes up too high for spotting the rest of the F&F Fambly in this movie–though there are some fantastic cameos that pop up who are worth the surprise, so I won’t be spoiling them here. This one’s all about Hobbs and Shaw, and that’s more than enough.
If you’re just tuning into this franchise, first of all, where have you been since 2001 when The Fast and the Furious started it all? Secondly, you should know that the movies have gone from relatively simple plots involving illegal street racing, high-speed heists, and the gray area between crooks and cops to high-stakes stories with world-ending consequences and mighty McGuffins that ratchet up the tension, action, and insanity to stratospheric levels. And yet the genius of the Fast & Furious movies is that, no matter how bonkers the action beats get, the heart of the film always comes back to grounded relationships between compelling characters.
Takes Hobbs and Shaw, for example. Hobbs is a former federal law enforcement officer for the DSS, while Shaw is a former British army officer turned world-class mercenary and high-class thief. The two spent an entire movie at odds with each other, followed by another film spent begrudgingly working side by side, but in case you weren’t aware of their personal baggage coming into this film, Hobbs & Shaw gift-wraps a fantastic back-and-forth scene between the two to remind you that they really don’t like each other. But the crux of the story here is that these two opposing forces will have to learn to work together in order to save the day … and the world.
Joining the franchise is Kirby as Hattie Shaw, an MI6 agent who just so happens to be Deckard’s sister. When an operation to retrieve a deadly virus goes south, thanks to the arrival of Elba’s suped-up Brixton, Hattie does the unthinkable with the pathogen in order to keep it out of the mercenary’s hands. In fact, she actually becomes the McGuffin throughout the rest of the story. It’s a clever twist on a common trope, and it’s one that makes Hattie a valuable asset, a source of emotional friction, and a deadly threat to the entire world, all at the same time.