I have an odd history with the Fast and the Furious franchise. The first film came out when I was in college, and it worked for me. I found it entertaining, and I was on the Vin Diesel bandwagon after seeing Pitch Black (2000) the year before. Then, I immediately wrote off the second film and didn’t see it until it was on TBS or something – which is also how I think I saw Tokyo Drift. That’s it. I didn’t watch another of the films…until this week.
Hobbs & Shaw is exactly what it wants to be; dumb fun.
Since my summer vacation was winding down and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) was looming as the big release for the week, I decided to make use of that Amazon Black Friday purchase of the Fast & Furious Blu-ray box set, and I binged the rest of the franchise. To my surprise, I had a blast with them, laughing at the cheesy dialogue, tearing up at moments that caught me off guard, and reveling in the ever-growing, over-the-top action sequences. By the time Hobbs and Shaw finally released, I was actually looking forward to seeing how crazy it would be. It is VERY CRAZY!
Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) are recruited to track down Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), a rogue MI6 agent who stole a deadly virus, but their history makes them not want to work together. It soon becomes clear to the feuding meatheads that Hattie isn’t the villain, and that Brixton (Idris Elba) is their real nemesis. The three go on the run to try and save the world – a sentiment Hobbs verbally expresses a few times.
This film is by far the craziest of the franchise, to the point that it almost doesn’t seem like it exists in the same universe. The action in this film escalates – much as it has through the history of the franchise – starting with slightly implausible and growing until there is no freaking way any of this is possible by the film’s finale. For the most part, it’s an unbelievably fun ride, as Johnson and Statham’s characters are entertaining and their performances are as big as Johnson’s biceps. However, right before the final action sequence, the film grinds to a screeching halt as it attempts to give these characters meaningful moments that just feel contrived and pointless. It does make the final action sequence feel less impactful than the others, despite it being super ridiculous and crazy.
There won’t be any spoilers in this review, but there are two cameos that occur in this film, with one of them really landing strongly for me. To me, it demonstrated director David Leitch’s sense of humor, as does much of Hobbs’ dialogue. There are a number of moments that just had me laughing, making the film – overall – extremely enjoyable. It is what a summer blockbuster in August should be: dumb fun.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is an experiment for a franchise that seems to have mostly worked. There is some debate, of course, about Shaw’s elevation to hero after his role in Furious 7, and I’m leaning on the #justiceforhan side of that argument. Still, you can’t deny Statham’s charm, and the chemistry that Johnson has with him as cinematic joy. Hobbs & Shaw earn the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.