Reviewing an action film such as this is not an exact science. Some viewers go to watch films that have logic, depth, and something to say. Others just want to shut their minds off for 2 hours and escape reality.
Well, fans of the Fast and Furious franchise are quite aware that the saga left behind any sense of realism about 4 or 5 movies ago. And if “jumping the shark” is something viewers enjoy, Hobbs & Shaw goes for the high jump.
So, here it goes. Bust out the protein shake, pour some baby oil on those muscles, and get ready to power lift that suspension of disbelief. As Cypher says to Neo in The Matrix, “Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, ’cause Kansas is going bye-bye!”
The film centers around Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) who are off doing their daily kick a** routine when both men are recruited to take down an enemy who wants to unleash a deadly virus. This enemy is a cyber-genetically modified psychopath named Brixton (Idris Elba) who aims to claim the virus for a mysterious leader--who is never revealed.
And that’s the overall explanation of the entire story. Everything else involved is just an excuse for the central leads to have an ego measuring contest for two hours, and no one will complain. In summary, it’s one big “Do you even lift?” joke on repeat.
Johnson and Statham make it work better than it should. Both of these actors riff off each other extremely well and one can see why producers were dying to put them together in a film. Their banter is so well done it’s hard to tell whether some of the dialogue was improvisation--which if it was, says a lot about their comedic abilities.
This also explains why they hired David Leitch to direct this spin-off. The film required someone with a background in action and comedy. Between his inventive work in John Wick and Atomic Blonde, matched with his confident handling of action mixed with comedy in Deadpool 2, it’s not a surprise Leitch was pursued. Only he could make all the elements work better than they deserve.
Which brings us to the make or break portions of this film. Hobbs & Shaw is absurd in every possible way. Nothing about this movie is remotely possible. We have come a long way from street racing and bank heists.
The action sequences in Hobbs & Shaw are so bonkers, it makes the car jumping on a yacht in 2 Fast 2 Furious seem quaint. Remember in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Steve Rodgers is holding onto a helicopter and keeping it from leaving a skyscraper? Well, Dwayne Johnson does something similar in this movie and it’s absolutely hilarious.
For some, this will be too much but for others, it will add to the experience. At this point, most audiences seem aware that the franchise isn’t taking itself too seriously. So, if one has made it this far with the Fast and Furious movies, this probably will not be an issue.
The only pitfall of this entry is that it might be a bit long. The movie could have benefited from having 15 minutes or so trimmed off the top. And because of this, it makes some of the action moments feel like a chore before it concludes. Plus, it has numerous post-credit scenes (which are not required viewing) that make the film feel even longer.
Overall, Hobbs & Shaw is a worthy addition to the Fast and Furious saga. It’s completely silly and absurd in all the right ways. Some might find the long runtime a bit tedious and the elements a bit ridiculous. But if seeking an action film with two solid leads taking shots at each other sounds fun, then you can’t go wrong here. It’s big, loud, and completely absurd, but what else does one expect from this franchise?
Hobbs & Shaw is now playing in theaters.