Main cast: Dwayne Johnson (Luke Hobbs), Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw), Idris Elba (Brixton Lore). Vanessa Kirby (Hattie Shaw), Eiza González (Madam M), Eddie Marsan (Professor Andreiko), and Helen Mirren (Magdalene “Queenie” Shaw)
Director: David Leitch
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw may feature some characters that look like and share the same names as their counterparts in the Fast & Furious franchise, but they are not the same characters. Also, the upbeat tone of the movie is so different from those other movies, it’s probably best to view this so-called spin-off as a movie in its own universe. Not to mention, the villain Brixton Lore is enhanced with cybernetic implants like a cyborg – as Idris Elba’s character puts it, he’s “black Superman” and yeah, this is not a movie from that franchise.
Not that I’m complaining, despite the fact that it has Dwayne Johnson playing the same character all over again, right down to the same tics and what not. Maybe he’s tolerable this time around because it’s been a while since I’ve watched his movies. He turns everything he touches into cheese, but this time around, it’s an entertaining kind of cheese – so long as I don’t try to box this film into the Fast & Furious box. I won’t do that for this review, by the way, or I’d be nitpicking all the ways in which Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw in this movie are not the same guys as their counterparts in the “official” movies in the franchise; I’d just treat this as a standalone film.
It all begins when MI6 agent Hattie Shaw and her team infiltrate the HQ of the terrorist group Eteon to retrieve a deadly virus called Snowflake. This virus can mess with one’s DNA, thus guaranteeing 100% death. That or the person becomes an X-Man, I’d imagine. The MI6 crew is interrupted by Brixton Lore and his crew, who are agents of Eteon. Because Brixton is basically a prototype of the Terminator, all of Hattie’s crew get killed as they don’t have main billing, and as Hattie’s plot armor activates, she injects herself with Snowflake and manages to get away. Brixton gleefully arranges things so that, to MI6, Hattie killed her team and defected with the virus. Poor Hattie not only have a short time left before she dies… or maybe becomes the next Marvel feminist icon, she is also marked for termination by MI6.
Thanks to Mr Nobody, Luke and Deckard are recruited separately to work together, and hilarity ensues.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw have one thing done very right: the three main characters have great chemistry. Mr Johnson and Jason Statham play off one another as if they had been playing frenemies for life, and their competitive efforts to one-up the other are hilarious and even adorable. I mean, yes, these two men are playing the same guys they have been playing since forever, although Mr Statham’s character this time around sports decidedly more posh clothes. Still, the combination works, and these two are a lot of laughs as they systematically mow down and commit stylized violence on all in their way. Vanessa Kirby is good too as the kick-ass lady, although as usual, while the movie allows Hattie to take down random guys that aren’t in the main billing as lip service to girl power, she is never allowed to outshine her brother or Hobbs.
What doesn’t work here is the unimaginative script. Idris Elba tries his best to make the most out of his role, but Brixton is a generic, dull villain at the end of the day. Also, the movie is crammed with action, but the car chases, explosions, and fight scenes lack variety, and it isn’t long before I start to feel like I’m watching the same chase scenes or brawls over and over. Things start to look up when Hobbs take the crew to Samoa so that Mr Johnson can take off his shirt, but even that quickly turns into a tedious, never-ending, even masturbatory marathon of Mr Johnson making his character come off as the brightest Mary Sue in the universe. That Samoa thing is probably mandated in his contract so that movie becomes all about his character.
Still, there is enough fun to be had, especially before the tedium sets in, so Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a decent time-waster so long as one isn’t expecting much from it other than the usual bang-bang-boom stuff.