Review: Hobbs & Shaw

In America, we have a saying: Bigger is better. Bigger trucks in the South. Bigger buildings in the city. Bigger people in the Bread Basket (sorry Midwestern families). Well the same holds true for the new film, Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (as actually marketed, I cheated in the title above). I applaud the film for upholding their branding because if we know anything about the F&F franchise, it’s all about one thing: “family” (in my best Dom voice, whilst holding a Corona). And family is at the core of this film too. It also has like two hours of adrenaline-infused action scenes and sixteen minutes of the titular characters insulting each other, but that’s beside the point here. This movie sticks to it’s guns.
A little backstory on Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, for anyone coming to this spin-off movie who either hasn’t seen any F&F films (for shame…) or maybe just needs a refresher. We met the characters in the 5th 6th films respectively. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) was a Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent, represented about as accurately as Detective Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami (Seriously, look up DSS and have a good laugh after watching The Rock on screen). He is tasked with apprehending criminals Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker, RIP) but after exchanging an equal number of contract-allowed hits and finding their global terrorism efforts valiant, decides to join forces and go after bad guys together. One of those bad guys just happened to be Owen Shaw, the 6th film bad guy and brother of Deckard (Jason Statham). Taking revenge, Deckard kills Han, one of Toretto’s crew (all but forgiven by this point?) and becomes the bad guy himself in the 7th film. His road to redemption is a bit murkier, but let’s just say his help is by now both under-appreciated and un-welcomed. And this brings us to present day, when both gentleman are recruited by the CIA to recover a stolen virus. Basic. Action. Movie. Plotline.
This movie does have the least complicated plot of any of the recent Fast and Furious films. The virus they are working to recover happens to be injected by Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), and is being hunted down by an unknown organization known as Eteon and their #1 bad guy/future of mankind/Terminator/black Superman Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). Hobbs and Shaw are forced to work together because……..they’re both really strong? They hate each other’s guts? Oh right, because they talk the most smack. That’s right. Hey, “it’s the fate of the world here.” (being up front in reasoning from a side character is a lazy way to explain plot choices, fyi). But back to the virus, it’s the kind that’s re-developed from a vaccination, melts your insides, and goes globally airborne in 72 hours if not contained, kinda like Resident Evil, I Am Legend, and World War Z (is this a freaking zombie movie?!?).
What do I like about this movie? Both characters are painted equal-but-different (contract negotiations and such). They both get the job done, but one of them is 6’5″ and 250lbs and the other says “Oy!” a lot. Childhood traumas are given to both characters regarding their families and how they grew up, and both find resolution in their family lives before the film ends. Vanessa Kirby is a straight up bad-ass female agent and deserves her own solo spin-off. Another franchise film is easily set up with the introduction of Eteon (directed by a not-so-mysterious voice, Champ Nightengale – IMDB him if you want to ruin the next big bad guy). The stunts are just as unbelievable as their predecessors, like picking up a guy off a bike with one arm while traveling in opposite directions at 60mph+. The movie has it’s meta moments (eg. Shaw’s Mini Cooper he used for “a job over in Italy” and Hobbs’ “cheat day” pancake stack at the diner). The name Mike Coxmaul, lol. Cameos by both Kevin Hart, playing an Air Marshall, and Ryan Reynolds, playing an old “best friend” of Hobbs/slightly more serious Deadpool (but who cares, he’s hilarious and wears a half-heart bff necklace and I love it). The amazing CGI motorcycle used by Brixton. The Captain America helicopter moment given to biceps truly worthy of such a feat. And stupid action movie lines like, “If we work together, we can hurt him.” Yeah, uh-duh.
Altogether, there was a lot to enjoy about this film. They also employed old F&F tropes like NOS, reluctant partner-ups, and cheesy one-liners to remind us all of the good ol’ days, and both Johnson and Statham kicked a lot of stuntman ass. I don’t want to go into spoilers (even though the film is in its 3rd week of release… sorry I’ve been busy) so I’ll shy away from continuing into plot details. But if you’re still weighing movie night options, you can’t go wrong with a big, dumb summer blockbuster movie like this. And if you’ve followed the franchise for the past 18 years and own a majority of the films, make that known to a fellow theatre-goer. They will probably appreciate it. Thanks for reading, and as my job winds back up for the year I will attempt to continue to throw out reviews of semi-recent theatre releases as well as streaming reviews (seriously, I promise I will get back to them!). Cheers!

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