Thoughts and prayers go out to Vin Diesel when he sees the box-office returns for Hobbs & Shaw and is forced to realize that his time in the Fast and Furious franchise might be coming to a close.
Hobbs & Shaw is now the ninth film in the Fast and Furious franchise and the first time we’ve seen them do a proper spin-off — unless you count Tokyo Drift, that is, which you really probably should if you stop to think about it.
The film comes from Deadpool 2 and John Wick director David Leitch and sees both Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their roles within the franchise — the former as an FBI agent who’s probably murdered no less than 50 people by now, and the latter who once killed a member of Hobbs’ crew but faced zero repercussions for it.
Sigh. They really didn’t put any thought into Hobbs & Shaw whatsoever, did they?
Hobbs (Johnson) is in American and Shaw (Statham) is in London when they both receive a call from MI6 about Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Mission: Impossible - Fallout’s Vanessa Kirby).
Allegedly, Hattie was working a security job for them somewhere in Europe when she killed her entire crew, injected herself with a deadly virus and went rogue. Now, MI6 wants her back and, for some godforsaken reason, they want these two to do it together.
The two of them, along with everyone else who’s ever seen a movie before (especially Mission: Impossible II, which Hobbs & Shaw aggressively borrows from), know that there’s no way Hattie did this. Hattie is family, after all, and what has Fast and Furious been pushing at us since the very beginning?
As it turns out, Hattie wasn’t the one who killed her crew and only injected herself with the virus to get it away from the one who did — a literal super-powered cyborg named Brixton (Idris Elba). Yes, in a franchise that somehow keeps jumping the shark again and again, Hobbs & Shaw somehow finds a way to really outdo itself.
So, Hobbs, Shaw and Hattie all then have to go on the run as they travel from set-piece to set-piece figuring out a way to extract the virus and keep it away from Brixton, which of course leads to totaled vehicles, CGI fire and unnecessarily excessive amounts of testosterone.
Remember back when these movies used to be both self-aware without being THIS in-your-face about it? Man oh man, I miss the days of Fast Five.
Some, however, might not. There’s a good amount of people who like how self-aware these movies have become and think that all the added ridiculousness only improves the quality.
Those people are going to have a field day with Hobbs & Shaw, I can promise you that. This isn’t just an over-the-top action movie that introduces superheroes into the world. No, this is one of the goofiest superhero movies you’ve ever seen put to screen that also manages to cram in some elements of science-fiction in there, making this all feel like an extended G.I. Joe episode.
Elba (I’ve already forgotten the character’s name) doesn’t just deflect bullets or lift heavy things. He jumps through entire busses while chasing after Hobbs and Shaw in London. His motorcycle is basically a transformer as it rides by itself and can change shape when going under a low-hanging object, meaning we’re one step closer to the Fast and Furious/Bumblebee crossover that nobody is asking for.
And, again, I get it — there’s a certain demographic who wants to see all of that. I’m not a total stick in the mud, either — I can have fun with dumb action movies like Venom or Ready Player One. I’m the one guy who liked Hellboy, am I not?
What I can’t get behind, though, is how paint-by-numbers these movies have become. Yes, they might continue to find bigger and bigger ways to push their action scenes with every new entry, but when that’s the ONLY selling point of a movie, I start to get bored.
I know that nobody in their right mind is walking into Hobbs & Shaw hoping for something narratively exciting to happen, but I just want something exciting to happen in general. When you’re selling point is 2 hours and 15 minutes of straight vehicle-warfare and dumb one-liners (the occasional one got a chuckle out of me, but the far majority missed), to the point where you’re not even willing to TRY and add something that isn’t completely fabricated or non-recycled (the last four Fast and Furious movies have all had the exact same plot with different locations and a different McGuffin), then, no, that’s not enough.
Maybe it used to be enough when you were jumping from Fast & Furious to Fast Five, but you’ve got to keep evolving if you want to stay relevant. Only adding bigger and dumber action scenes isn’t evolving, either — that’s just being lazy.
It does feel lazy, too. Lazy and inconsequential, as there are no stakes to be found in this thing. If Johnson can literally fall down an entire building, hit a car and be fine then, yeah, I’m not going to believe that anything can hurt him or any of this matters.
As for performances, Johnson and Statham are just playing themselves and nothing more. Kirby is the one who’s then forced to try and hold everything together — which, to her credit, she does a lot better than most can — but still ultimately isn’t given a lot to do.
They’ll try to address that, at times, with a couple of lines of dialogue about how ‘macho’ Hobbs and Shaw are acting when they don’t need to be. It starts and ends with that dialogue, though, as this movie still makes Kirby the damsel in distress and force her into a love story, which is just something I really didn’t need.
Hobbs & Shaw will do gangbusters with the crowd who is still in this thing because they want to see Fast and Furious go to space. Give it one, maybe two more films and I promise you that we’ll get there. For those of us who want something — scratch that, LITERALLY anything more, though, you’ll leave empty-handed (trying to keep it family-friendly with a PG-13 rating really isn't doing them any favors, either). While some of the sequences might be fun at first, Hobbs & Shaw just winds up becoming a hollow, pointless endeavor.
But, again, you’re all going to see it anyway, and given how they’re setting this thing up the sequels (the post-credits scenes are grating, to say the least), it means we might have seen the last of Diesel for awhile. Far thee well, my good man.
Watch the trailer for Hobbs & Shaw here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!