Fans of the “Fast & Furious” franchise need to be a little wary of this movie’s title. Yes, the two main characters had roles in earlier entries of the series. But this is absolutely not a “Fast & Furious” film, nor are there any cameos from, say, Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto or Michele Rodriguez’s Letty.
But “Hobbs & Shaw” definitely makes use of the “F&F” formula. There’s wild action mixed with crazy stunts, most of it involving moving vehicles; there’s an allegiance-shifting back and forth thing between friends and enemies; and there’s a note on the importance of family.
This all begins with a daring heist. A team of British MI6 agents goes after and gets a “package,” but then the woman in charge of the group kills off her team members and attempts to run off with what they’ve taken. So, she’s the villain ... right? Well, no conclusion-jumping here, because suddenly there’s this apparently super-powered fellow who shows up in the fray with plans of taking whatever it is away from her.
“Who the hell are you,” she asks, incredulously.
“Bad guy,” he answers, nonchalantly.
But then the film jumps to split screen status, showing Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in L.A., and Shaw (Jason Statham) in London, each living very different lifestyles. Hobbs is earthy, Shaw is glitzy; Hobbs is laid back, but loves to fight, Shaw is always on the move, but loves to fight. Hobbs is tight with his happy young daughter (Eliana Sua), Shaw is tight with his jailed mum (Helen Mirren).
But who exactly are these two guys, and why is it OK to jump into this film without seeing those earlier F&F films? Hobbs is a DSS (Diplomatic Security Service) agent, and an expert tracker. Shaw is ... well, that’s trickier. In previous films he was a crafty villain, a former British special forces guy who went down the wrong road. This time he’s only referred to as a former MI6 agent.
Whoever or whatever they are, they’re now needed by the CIA because - remember that thing that was stolen at the beginning? It was a virus, a super virus, one that, if put into the wrong hands, could wipe out the human race. And now Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), that rogue MI6 woman, has it and has safely injected it into herself for temporary storage. Are the wrong hands hers? Nope, those would belong to that “bad guy” fellow: Brixton (Idris Elba), mostly human, but part machine, working for an evil corporation that wants to use the virus to kill off only the weak people and make our world a better place.
The CIA hires our two heroes who, of course, hate each other (as explained in “Furious 7” and “The Fate of the Furious”), and spend about half the movie trading insults, usually via juvenile shouting matches (that are actually kind of funny). They’re supposed to work together to get that rogue agent, remove the virus from her, and (standard operating procedure) save the world. Since this film picks up on the “family is important” business of F&F, the female agent turns out to be Shaw’s little sister and, buried in a casually mentioned early scene, Hobbs and his brother Jonah have been estranged for 25 years.
There are terrifically choreographed fights galore. And again keeping with F&F, they’re accompanied by a car and motorcycle chase, an interior-exterior car-motorcycle-truck-drone chase (with guns and explosions!), and a truck-chopper-gaggle of cars chase on a steep cliffside road.
Also included: Visits to Moscow and Samoa (with Hawaii standing in), brief but very funny cameos from Ryan Reynolds as a CIA agent and Kevin Hart as an Air Marshal, and a search for a special “extraction machine.”
This may not be a “Fast & Furious” film, but it moves along at a fast and furious (and funny) pace. It ends, but there’s a silly mid-credits extra sequence, and then another one, and then, after the screen has gone black, another one. Really oddball warning: If you haven’t seen the final episode of “Game of Thrones,” you might not want to stick around for those endings.
Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw”
Written by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce; directed by Chris Morgan
With Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba