Even with events as ludicrous as Fast 7’s parachuting cars and Fate of the Furious’s nuclear submarine battle, the Fast and Furious franchise has never departed from its modest street-racing roots more than it does in Hobbs and Shaw. More of a sci-fi spy film than the vehicular crime capers that made the series’ name, it shares some of the physics-defying, family-obsessed DNA of its predecessors, but also goes in its own utterly ridiculous direction, with mixed results. It’s a spinoff clearly aiming at building its own separate franchise (Fast 9 releases next year without Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham), with enough dumb fun to keep you entertained but not exactly longing for more.
Reuniting former enemies and reluctant allies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Hobbs and Shaw sends its titular pair across the globe to stop cybernetically-enhanced assassin Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) from unleashing a man-made supervirus. It’s a plot built for silliness and outrageous set-pieces, with little care paid to logic or a consistent timeframe. Shaw’s sister, MI6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) has hidden the virus by injecting into her own bloodstream, with a supposed 72 hour countdown until it releases and kills her horrifically, but the events of the film obviously take longer than 3 days, so this central drama is oddly inert.
Thankfully, the action is good enough to make you forget that. Director David Leitch knows how to play to all of his stars’ strengths, so the fights are fluid and varied, in particular Kirby’s scenes, which prove her as an action star to be reckoned with. Compared with previous series entries, Hobbs and Shaw is more concerned with hand to hand combat and gunfights than car chaos, but a climactic set piece involving a bunch of trucks taking on a helicopter is a lot of fun.
Chris Morgan’s script is undoubtedly juvenile, packed to bursting with dick jokes and dudebro standoffs, but there are still effectively funny moments, and Johnson and Statham’s charisma sells a lot of the dumber stuff. Elba does a lot with a little, his innate swagger elevating a one-not villain. Hobbs and Shaw does away with a lot of the sincerity of previous Fast films, saving it all for a sentimental last few minutes, but you don’t hugely notice its absence. This is a wilfully stupid film that doesn’t want you to take it seriously, but provides the requisite dose of fun.