Movie review: 'Hobbs & Shaw' combines fast and furious action with comedy

Fred Hawson

Posted at Aug 05 2019 05:29 PM

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Handout

MANILA -- A deadly virus called Snowflake had been developed which can be programmed to weed out the weak in the world. Cyborg Brixton Lore from Eteon terrorist organization hijacked a MI6 mission carrying the virus, but a female MI6 agent named Hattie was able to get the virus away in time. Against their wills, US DSS agent Luke Hobbs and ex-British Special Forces agent Deckard Shaw were recruited to work together to go after Hattie and retrieve the virus before Brixton gets to her first.

The character of Luke Hobbs entered the Fast and Furious cast in "Fast Five" when as a DSS agent, he was assigned to track down Vince Toretto and gang in Rio de Janeiro. The character of Deckard Shaw was first seen as a cameo in "Fast & Furious 6" when a scene from "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" was revisited. In "Furious 7" Dobbs and Shaw first meet and immediate kindle antagonistic feelings against the other. Their animosity escalate further in "Fate of the Furious" and persist at the start of this present spin-off film.

It might seem odd that a Fast and Furious spin-off does not feature members of the original Toretto gang, but side characters from latter sequels. Of course, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham were both headlining stars of their own films already, and were the best bets to pull this off box-office wise. The acrimonious chemistry between Johnson and Statham was amazingly vital from beginning to end, and the feuding between these two men was very entertaining to watch. It is expected that these two stars would be awesome in their action scenes, but their comic chops were also top-notch.

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As the target agent Hattie, British multi-awarded actress Vanessa Kirby not only matched the two veteran actors in their witty repartee, but also held her own in some pretty fearless fight scenes, among them a scene wrestling with Hobbs himself. Playing against his usual type, the usually heroic Idris Elba played the main antagonist Brixton Lore in this one. With Johnson and Statham on one side, the main bad guy could not be any less alpha. It could not have been anybody less than Idris Elba.

I enjoyed the surprise appearances of some big stars in entertaining cameo roles, like Helen Mirren as Deckard's incarcerated mother Madeleine "Queenie" Shaw (taking off from her cameo in "Fate of the Furious"), Kevin Hart as a helpful air marshal named Dinkley, and Ryan Reynolds as wacky Hobb's CIA contact Agent Locke. There were also a lot of fun references to contemporary pop culture, particularly "Game of Thrones," for which the filmmakers seem to have some words to say about the final season.

Being a spin-off of the "Fast and Furious" franchise, "Hobbs & Shaw" of course had to have those laws-of-physics-defying stunts involving motor vehicles, accompanied by a dope musical soundtrack. The highlight of these vehicular stunts was particularly crazy one that involved five trailer trucks and a helicopter, with chains and cliffs. Former stuntman now director David Leitch carried on his winning touch for action films after his uncredited directorial debut in "John Wick" (2014), then "Atomic Blonde" (2017) and "Deadpool 2" (2018).

Aside from these stunts though, another hallmark of a "Fast and Furious" film was its foundations based on family. Because of their work, Hobbs and Shaw both get estranged from their respective families, but here they swallow their pride and go back to their kinsmen for help.

As proudly brash, macho and cocksure the two stars and the action scenes were, heart was again very much in the equation here as in every Fast & Furious film before it.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."