REVIEW: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Spoiler Free)

Remind me again why this franchise isn’t just called One Punch Man at this stage?

A genetically-engineered mercenary, leading a terrorist organisation, hunts a deadly virus predicted to cause global annihilation… the world’s only hope? Well Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, of course.

The first in what I predict to be a slew of nonsense Fast & Furious spinoffs, Hobbs & Shaw brings together two of the most charismatic Hollywood movie stars, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, to some, well, mediocre effect. Cashing in on the surprisingly high quality chemistry between the two actors from previous Fast & Furious movies, Hobbs & Shaw strictly does away with its car and racing roots to deliver a nonsensical, dead head rush of debatable blockbuster action movie entertainment, that works on some levels but also outstays its welcome on multiple fronts.

Committing to its bombastic over-the-top world-building and superhero-like characters, Hobbs & Shaw held no punches in allowing itself to be exactly what it had to be: a stupid action movie. Even though the Fast & Furious franchise has been on an evident decline in real world stakes and a steady increase in unbelievable insanity, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the craziness that would be on show in Hobbs & Shaw. For a film allegedly set in a universe where race wars are considered a dangerous sport, its jarring to watch Dwayne Johnson constantly throw himself out of skyscrapers, with no harnesses, to fight a Captain America-type evil super solider whilst a city falls around them all in the same scene. Now, a film with as much balls as Hobbs & Shaw does indeed have its merit but also, lets be real… its first and foremost hot garbage.

To be as honest as possible, I thought Hobbs & Shaw started promising, with a sweet opening action sequence and wise introductions to the titular characters of Hobbs and Shaw, all energising the opening fifteen minutes. However as soon as the action kicked in, I have to say, I was truthfully bored. The movie grew tedious quickly. It became horrendously generic with terrible villain plots, nonstop bickering and a colour palette which made every frame of this movie genuinely tiring to look at. It was only until the movie’s final action sequence that it kicked back into gear and became, once again, the incredibly dumb joy-fest it set out to be in the first place.

Now, I like David Leitch as a director. His work on the first Josh Wick alongside Chad Stahelski was incredible as was his solo follow up with Atomic Blonde. True, Atomic Blonde lacked plot and character but in style and action, it delivered, all thanks to a dedicated Leitch. And although his work on Deadpool 2 was slightly a step down, being as though the superhero sequel was very much a product of Ryan Reynolds rather than Leitch, I still would happily admit that I think Leitch is a solid modern action filmmaker.

So when it comes to Leitch’s work on Hobbs & Shaw… yeah, I just don’t know. Firstly, like how Reynolds evidently took control of Deadpool 2, Johnson has obviously taken the helm of Hobbs & Shaw with Leitch seemingly just getting name credit. The direction behind Hobbs & Shaw was rather just bland with no flavour. The film did, in fact, open with a series of half screen shots, perfectly visualising the juxtaposition between Hobbs and Shaw with contrasting colour and comedy between the two, showcasing Leitch at his best. However, the rest of the movie’s direction felt confused in capturing tone and mood.

The camera would dramatize moments like characters just having normal conversations. There was a sense of epic scale to every moment of intimate dialogue that mirrored the Michael Bay effect, all too freakishly. The movie was never sure on whether it wanted to be taken seriously or if it wanted to just be stupid. As a result, some attempts at comedy fell short horribly whilst others skyrocketed. Action sequences would vary between boring and never-ending to exciting and ridiculously BIG. At the end of the day, what Hobbs & Shaw reminded me of watching was a sibling either playing some random action video game on God mode or smashing their action figures together for two hours… cos f*** it.

Now there is obviously an audience for a film like Hobbs & Shaw. I know there are fans of the Fast & Furious franchise who were waiting for a movie like this where the filmmakers decided to go balls to walls in spectacle and start introducing some really stupid concepts to the franchise. In a way, this may be a great addition to the Fast & Furious canon for some, but also an abomination to others, considering it completely abandons the cars for espionage and bald Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson for bald Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.

However, if you have been watching the past few Fast & Furious films for just Johnson and/ or Statham, then Hobbs & Shaw really makes the best with what its got. The actors were not only charismatic and enjoyable to watch, but together they worked really well. I also kind of loved Vanessa Kirby in Hobbs & Shaw. Between this and Mission: Impossible – Fallout, I have to believe that Kirby is an action star waiting to lead her own franchise (evidently better than this one). Otherwise, the rest of the cast were fine. Idris Elba was pretty good, but certainly has proven himself in better action roles. There were various surprise cast members here and there whom I won’t spoil, but to be honest, nobody really stood out to me in this movie as a great performer… asides from maybe Kirby.

I shall reiterate how I highly rated the ending of this movie and how bombastic it got. The final car chase in Hobbs & Shaw, despite being a complete CGI fest, really worked wonders in enabling the movie to embrace its silliness and obscurity. Hobbs & Shaw may have taken Fast & Furious down another route, stylistically and scale-wise, but at its heart it still managed to continue the concepts of its prime franchise. Tapping back into the reoccurring theme of family, with both Hobbs and Shaw having to rekindle their relationships with their own families in the movie to save the day, was a nice touch to the film’s narrative and saved it from being completely soulless and devoid of humanity.

(Daniel Smith / Universal Pictures 2019)

Overall, this movie didn’t need to be the length it sat at – it could have certainly gone through a much tighter editing process. Although Johnson and Statham had great chemistry and obviously were able to improv some humorous dialogue, not every joke and insult had to make the final cut. After a while, the bickering got annoying and unfunny. The action sequences drew to a sickening length and the general look of the movie just did not help in keeping the film alive.

Again, the villain who conceptually sounded cool in the form of Elba’s self-proclaimed “Black Superman” was intriguing… but then the villain was revealed to be working for a faceless mastermind behind a massive corporation who wanted a virus to wipe out humanity so they could improve humanity and blah blah blah blah blah… who honestly cares. I do think the movie was aware of its cliché plot points, but, at the end of the day, if you’re going to make fun of genre tropes in your movie, just make the whole production a satire. Either do the full Atomic Blonde or the full Deadpool 2, because sitting in the in-between area creates problems.

But whatever, you know. This is a film where a Hulk-sized cop teams up with a terrorist who at one stage blew up a hospital… yeah, no sh*t, Hobbs didn’t want to work with Shaw.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, sadly, belongs in the… KINGDOM OF THE CRIMINALLY DULL…


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