Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Review

Hobbs & Shaw
Hobbs & Shaw

I’m amazed every time it comes to writing another Fast & Furious review. The franchise’s continuing reinvention into a cinematic universe has been bonkers. A cynic would say it’s to split up Johnson and Diesel (and they’re probably right), but there are now many characters that we can have spin-offs! Hobbs & Shaw is the – I’m assuming – first such entry, made possible by the FF7 and FF8 opening up the world drastically. It all seems very reasonable; natural progression.

Is it though? On paper Hobbs and Shaw sounds amazing; Johnson and Statham are both big draws and have been great additions to the franchise. Director David Leitch co-directed John Wick. Vanessa Kirby is making a name for herself, and Idris Elba is just too cool.

In practice though it doesn’t come together how I’d hoped. It ticks the right boxes – chases, fights, FAMILY – but it’s lacking a certain something. As I left the cinema, and even the next day, I couldn’t put my finger on it. So come join me, as I attempt to figure out what exactly left me feeling cold.

Perhaps it’s the dialogue between Johnson and Statham. They’re performances are as you’d expect, but I could mouth what they were going to say before they said it. Leitch leans on their differing statures a lot, with a lot of side by side or parallel shots. It’s odd to have Statham as the ‘little guy’ but it doesn’t work as well as the trailers suggest. It’s not meant to be high brow, but I could write some better zingers.

Maybe it’s because the chases don’t do anything we haven’t seen already? Once we’ve seen a 20 gazillion mile long runway chase and tanks vs a submarine, what we’re given here feels relatively pedestrian. Everyone is giving it the beans, but it didn’t tickle me in any special places.

Elba isn’t the problem, relishing his ‘Black Superman’ role. His backstory is perfunctory at best though, ultimately feeling like the opening to sequels rather than being something definitive.

Ah! I’ve got it. One problem I can definitely hang my hat on is Statham’s Deckard. More specifically, his transformation into an anti-hero. From his appearance in FF6 and the killing of Han, to where we find him now, doesn’t track at all well for me. I want to root for him, and he seems apologetic, but he killed Han! He killed one of the family! The team’s acceptance of him at the end of FF8 rankled, and that continues here.

Sounds like I’ve got huge problems with Hobbs & Shaw. I don’t. It’s entertaining, with big men and attractive women doing exactly as you’d expect. But that’s the problem. Based on the trailers, and how outrageous things have become, I hoped Hobbs & Shaw would break the mold again. In some regards it does, introducing some definite superhero flavourings into the Fast & Furious mixture. I don’t often mark down a film for not being ridiculous enough. Maybe I need the franchise to just head into space already.

No one says ‘Bro’ as far as I know either. What’s with that!

In case you’re interested, here are reviews for Fast Five, Fast and Furious 6, Fast and Furious 7, and Fast and Furious 8!

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