The Fast and the Furious franchise is one of the most unique franchises within Hollywood history. Originally starting out as a fairly grounded film about an FBI agent going undercover to take down a speed king in Vin Diesel’s Dom. I do apologize if there are some details off about that description. It’s been roughly two years since I’ve seen the first film. My memory can deceive me at times. Laughs awkwardly and clears throat. Though as these films have developed their lore the grounded nature of its foundation seems to fade more further away with every reel used to make these cinematic adventures. From the soft reboot of the fourth entry, Fast and Furious, in 2009 to the latest entry in The Fate of the Furious in 2017 – these films have gotten even more outlandish with each entry that proceeds it. Producers behind the franchise have even joked about moving the movies into space. Not joking.
Craziness aside, the franchise has some of the best characters of any franchise. Whether you’re talking about the late Paul Walker’s Brian to the previously mentioned, Dom. Fast & Furious has given some of the best arcs ever put to film. Let’s not forget that the franchise also gave us Luke Hobbs, played Dwayne Johnson, and Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham. Statham’s character alone demonstrates the franchise handles its character arcs and evolution. Shaw debuted as the main antagonist of Furious 7 and is now given his own co-headlining movie in the series’ second spin-off film, Hobbs and Shaw.
Hobbs and Shaw tells the story of the unlikely duo of Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw uniting along side Hattie Shaw, Deckard’s sister, to stop an apocalyptic virus from getting into the hands of antagonist in Idris Elba’s Brixton. As I’ve previously mentioned the Fast and Furious franchise is no stranger to being over the top. Though when the majority of your film is set at one constant pace and you go over that – that’s a bit too over the top even for this franchise. Sadly, that’s how Elba’s villain feels for this film the more it unfolds. It is a slow decent of a two-dimensional cliché and villain trope wrapped up into the franchise’s very own “black superman”. Elba feels more in place with Elizabeth Banks’ Rita Repulsa in 2017’s Power Rangers or Jon Voight’s Paul Serone from Anaconda. On the surface, Elba is a formable foe for the duo. However, it’s when the film progresses that he smoothly trades in his bullet proof suit for something a bit more out of place from the rest of the film.
However, our heroes of the film in Hobbs and Shaw do not face such issues. Their arcs manage to aggressively push them forward within the mythology of the franchise and break new ground for the fan favorite characters. A major theme throughout the film is reconnection. While the start of each journey is a bit predictable; the journey to the destination is a rip-roaring fun time. The lead trio in Johnson, Statham and Vanessa Kirby make for some terrific chemistry. The odd couple nature of Johnson and Statham, though, can grow a bit tiresome. There are a couple scenes back in forth where the pair exchange insults that feel like a playground rap battle. To quote Deadpool, “that’s just lazy writing.” As hard as those scenes can be to get through – it does make for a more impactful third act.
Overall, Hobbs and Shaw, is a phenomenal companion piece to the Fast and Furious franchise. The film is loaded with witty quips between characters, delicious humor and some truly impressive action sequences. The film is solidified all the more with leads in Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Vanessa Kirby and their remarkable chemistry. There are some moments in Johnson and Statham that create some uncomfortable sequences. Though, they are no match for the out of water villain in Idris Elba. Elba feels out of sync with the film – slowly fading into two-dimensionality. Even with all of its’ flaws, Hobbs and Shaw is a fun film from start to finish.
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