Rip out of your casts and practice your roundhouse kicks because the first spin-off in the Fast and Furious franchise is finally here with Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw. David Leitch, who has worked on action-flicks John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2, takes the helm as director.
In Hobbs and Shaw, we follow Luke Hobbs (Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as they race against time to save Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) from the dangerous Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). With nine films under its belt, anyone who follows The Fast and Furious franchise knows that they have progressively been one upping the quality of each installation. In that vein, Hobbs and Shaw continues to meet expectations with plenty of car chases, fighting, and one-liners.
As an avid lover of the franchise (you can find on why I think it matters on the But Why Tho? the podcast episode here), I fully admit that I do not walk into the theater expecting an award winning story. That said, Hobbs and Shaw presents a very straight-forward plot that is easy enough to follow. Hattie is on a mission as a member of MI6 to secure a deadly virus before it falls into the wrong hands. The self-proclaimed “bad guy” Brixton eliminates Hattie’s team in an attempt to steal the virus but not before she is able to escape with the virus prompting a hunt for the elusive agent.
As the movie continues we learn that Brixton works for an ominous organization called that Eteon that is on the cutting edge of various forms of technologies from media tampering, weapons, surveillance, and human modification. Eteon spins the failed MI6 operation, painting Hattie as a rogue agent who stole the virus for her own gain. Under the orders of an unseen director, the cybernetically enhanced Brixton leads a worldwide search to find her. However, Hattie is resourceful and eludes all efforts to be found prompting the CIA to resort to outside help in the form of Luke Hobbs and her brother, Deckard Shaw.
Fans will remember that Hobbs and Shaw had no love for each other. In both Furious 7 and Fate of the Furious. It was Hobbs who held Shaw in a CIA prison after the events of Furious 7 and was the one biggest opponents of Shaw working with the Family in Fate of the Furious. It comes as no surprise that the two are reluctant to work together despite the virus being a global threat to all humanity.
But in definite Fast and Furious fashion, it all changes when family is involved when it is revealed that Hattie is in fact Deckard’s sister. Leaving the two to work together to find a way to return the virus to safety while battling the seemingly unstoppable Brixton who is more than a match for arguably the two most combat ready characters in the entire franchise.
While the plot is a cut and dry, there are plenty of one-liners, cameos, and callback references to keep fans of the franchise engaged during the lulls between action sequences. Johnson and Statham’s chemistry is still seamless, dating back to Fate of the Furious where they continuously engaged alpha male posturing and that continues in Hobbs and Shaw.
The influences of Deadpool 2 are apparent as the drive shift measuring contests are creatively done in a way that had the theater laughing as each joke was delivered. Further, the obvious success of the franchise has attracted actors I would have never thought I would see in the Fast and Furious franchise but still sparked cheers from the crowd.
Given Leitch’s work on John Wick and Atomic Blonde, I am not surprised that Hobbs and Shaw had the best hand to hand combat scenes in all of the franchise. While elaborate car chases and the explosions are almost a given at this point, Hobbs and Shaw revives the magic of the prison break scene in Fate of the Furious and gives viewers more to watch than just Dominic Torreto punching the street to end a fight. Action set pieces feature the near superhero strength of Hobbs and the martial art skills of Shaw which culminated with many “ohhs” and “ahhs” to be had.
If you are worried that Hobbs and Shaw is just a testosterone driven flick given the two stars, well…it kind of is. That said, Kirby more than holds her own as Hattie in the film, consistently showing that she is no one’s damsel in distress. As a member of the Shaw family, Hattie is an excellent fighter like Deckard, a brilliant strategist like Owen, and as cunning as their mother Magdalene. If anything, she may be under utilized as the newest addition of badass female characters in The Fast and Furious franchise.
As a spin-off, I was initially worried that Hobbs and Shaw would derail Vin Diesel’s focus on family, especially with two characters who certainly do not like each other at the center. However, each character is given their own subplot to realize the importance of family even if it may not be the person they go on missions with.
We see Hobbs battle with his distance from his family in Samoa, which is even more powerful given Johnson’s background. We also watch as Shaw continues his dedication to his broken family. Further, there are subtle easter eggs dropped throughout the movie that reference previous installations that will have existing fans of the franchise tapping their neighbor. These moments provide a connective tissue that keep the franchise in the viewers’ mind during the film.
If this your first time seeing a Fast and Furious movie, don’t fret. Since this is a spin-off with no immediate connection to the other films, all the connection you need will be made clear through exposition between the titular characters. As long as you go in expecting action, testosterone, and one-liners you will be just fine. You may even find yourself catching the Fast and Furious fever and joining the familia.
Overall, I had a blast with Hobbs and Shaw. If you are a fan of the franchise, action flicks with ridiculous set pieces, and banter between actors with chemistry you will enjoy this movie. Even without Dominic and the rest of the Family, Hobbs and Shaw provides an outlet for spin-offs that works while still paying homage to the messages that got us to this point. Johnson and Statham put their own stamp on the franchise and I would not be opposed to seeing them deal with more world ending if it meant the Family got back to their roots.
Plus, be sure to stay seated during the credits for a various after-credit scenes.
Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw is available in theaters nationwide on August 2, 2019.