The absurdly titled Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is the ninth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise, as well as being its first spin-off. The film also marks the first in the franchise for director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2).
For the purposes of this review, it should be noted that I have never seen a single film from this series. I went in cold, and though I’m sure there were numerous callbacks to the previous films that went completely over my head, I’ll be reviewing this as a stand-alone movie, rather than trying to compare to the others, considering my ignorance.
Hobbs & Shaw is absolutely ridiculous, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. Yes, some of the ridiculousness is so silly – at times even straight up stupid – that it’s hard to stomach. Other times however, it’s a big, dumb blast. I had a lot of fun with this movie.
I will watch Dwayne Johnson (hereafter affectionately referred to as The Rock) in anything. He may be the ultimate specimen of masculinity on a physical level, but he’s also an hilarious, charismatic teddy bear. I like Statham too for similar reasons. Are they incredible actors? No. Do I want to see them reciting Sorkin or Mamet? Certainly not. I don’t imagine they’d want to do that either. They know their lot, and this movie is the perfect vehicle for them to flex their (acting) muscles and showcase their comedic chops. The fact that they have excellent chemistry with one another is the icing on the cake.
Idris Elba doesn’t disappoint either (does he ever?), bringing a gravitas, intensity and physicality to his rather silly role, who is a bit of an evil amalgam of Logan Marshall-Green’s character in Upgrade and Iron Man. Winding out the main cast is Vanessa Kirby, whom again handles the physicality very well and finds an endearing rhythm with Statham and The Rock.
The humour is rather strong in the film, and I found myself laughing out loud consistently throughout, though the number of d*ck jokes does get a little much at times. Further, there is a cameo that I was not expecting which I thoroughly enjoyed. One aspect that I found incredibly frustrating however was the overuse of parallel jokes: Statham is in one place and makes a quip, cut to The Rock in another place, making the same quip. It was very funny at first, but became increasingly annoying the more it was used.
Unsurprisingly, most of the action is great. It’s inventive, it’s exhilarating, and it’s fun. The stunt driving is particularly impressive, assuming of course that it was, in fact, stunt driving and not visual effects. This brings to light one of my significant issues with the movie’s action: while some of it is executed rather well, there are sequences that are so shaky and cut so quickly and closely that it’s next to impossible to comprehend what is happening. Further, the climactic battle does go on a little long, and I found myself getting fatigued.
For the most part the dialogue is fine. There is not a brilliant line in the movie (outside of a few really solid burns, including the aforementioned d*ck jokes), but there are a few lines – particularly in hero shots after the climax – that are eye-rollingly bad. Again, I wasn’t looking for even Kevin Smith level wit, but some of these are so lazy that they wouldn’t even cut it as dad joke memes on Facebook. Still, to their credit, Statham and The Rock sell them to the best of their ability.
Overall, for a franchise virgin like me, Hobbs & Shaw is dumb, popcorn fun. It’s a little longer than it needs to be, though it is indeed paced very well. It’s silly, it’s funny, and I had a good time with it. Would I ever watch it again? No, probably not. Am I curious to check out a couple other movies in the series? I think that maybe I am. If you know what it is you’re getting yourself into and have enjoyed previous movies in the franchise, I’d imagine you’ll have yourself a good time.