Hobbs & Shaw–A fun ride with Johnson and Statham re-sets the bar for the action genre

Review by C.J. Bunce

The biggest action film of the summer is easily the most enjoyable film of the year.  That’s Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, a movie that gets so many genre formulas right it just can’t miss.  Certainly one of the better entries in the Fast & Furious franchise, it knows what works and uses it.  That’s a sure-bet cast of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, Mission: Impossible–Fallout’s Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba in the ultimate badass role as a James Bond spy gone bad with Superman powers, lots of futuristic cyborg tech, and an understanding of why audiences come to the movie theater in the first place.  Hobbs & Shaw is a movie for people who like movies.

The trailers gave audiences a glimpse at what to expect, and they delivered on all promises: laugh-out-loud funny dialogue, nonstop action, road races and camera angles that the franchise is known for, and lots of surprises and callbacks, and a script that doesn’t take itself seriously.  There’s something for everyone here.  If you’re after only the fast cars, action, and speed of the franchise, this entry measures up.  And that family drama that the regular franchise leads Diesel, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster built the franchise on is here, too.  This time that includes digging into the past between Statham’s Deckard Shaw and sister Hattie, played by Kirby, and Helen Mirren back again as their mother (Luke Evans’ brother Owen from the last film may or may not be mentioned this time), and Johnson’s Luke Hobbs is pals with his young daughter at home and returns to the family he left behind years ago in the Samoan Islands.

But stuntman-turned-director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, John Wick) and script writers Chris Morgan (writer of five prior Fast & Furious films) and Drew Pearce (Hotel Artemis, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) know why audiences are really buying tickets, and you just need to drift over their previous film credits to see why they were tapped for Hobbs & Shaw.  Hattie is a badass equal to Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde (Theron also co-starred in the most recent sequel), any of the four lead characters could give Leitch’s John Wick a run for his money, and moviegoers will hardly remember last year’s much-lauded Mission Impossible: Fallout’s action scenes after they see this.  (A few casting spoilers follow).

As for those action sequences, a car chase with Elba’s borg enhanced superhuman drifting under a semi-truck on his amped-up, remote-controlled motorcycle beats anything else I’ve seen this year by itself.  Add to that a giant train of cars attached to a helicopter, several close-call explosion sequences, blowing up an entire Chernobyl-inspired facility, a skyscraper fall rescue, more chases, and hand-to-hand combat, including Kirby’s impressive opening scene, and Hobbs & Shaw firmly locks into place the new bar to beat for the action genre.

Bits of the movie plant the idea that Hobbs & Shaw is not only a sequel to 2017’s The Fate of the Furious, like a callback to Statham’s character in The Italian Job, and his Transporter and The Expendables series.  The supporting cast is a major component of the enjoyment of the film.  Johnson Jumanji co-star Kevin Hart and Leitch pal Ryan Reynolds join the franchise to form a mirror of the Mission: Impossible formula.  Eiza González is a cool addition and could easily be playing her character from Baby Driver (maybe she didn’t really die).

Fans of the film’s creators will know Eddie Marsan from both Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde, back again as the familiar, invaluable tug-of-war asset.  Cliff Curtis, last seen co-starring with Statham in The Meg, plays Hobbs’ brother.  And you might think that Brixton’s boss, that disguised phantom voice of the all-powerful Eteon, might be Theron’s character from the last movie or Evans’ Owen Shaw, but my bet is it’s David Warner as the rebooted Master Control Program, making this a sequel to Tron.  You never know.

Stay for the bitter end of the credits or you’ll miss the three extra scenes.  Johnson has hinted that Kevin Hart, Ryan Johnson, and Helen Mirren will be back as part of the “team” for the film’s sequel, not to be confused with next year’s Fast & Furious 9, with Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, and Jordana Brewster, all expected to return.

Johnson, Statham, Reynolds, Hart, Kirby, and Mirren fans won’t want to miss them here.  Action fans, this is a no-brainer.  This is the action movie of the year, and as big and as good as it gets.  In its second week, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is now in theaters everywhere.

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