What can audiences expect from Hobbs and Shaw? Well, if you like a succinct description, it’s essentially a Fast and Furious film on crack. The Fast franchise began as a story about petty crime, men stealing DVD players out of the back of trucks — Hobbs and Shaw contains world-ending viruses, cybernetic super-soldiers, and physics defying action sequences – clearly a lot has changed since the days of The Fast and the Furious (2001). Even within the Fast franchise Hobbs and Shaw surprisingly stands as a lone newcomer; it’s the first Fast & Furious film that is primarily comedy-driven with some serious moments and not the other way around. Some people will like this change, others not so much.
While this film is by no means heavy of themes, Hobbs and Shaw does have a few, it outlines the importance of your roots and past as its message; conversely the films antagonist played by Idris Elba follows the idea of evolving and surviving as the path to salvation. What can this say about the Fast franchise? Well, there’s no denying these films have strayed a long way from their roots and their past – but perhaps it was for the best, for if they had not then maybe this franchise would not be here today. These films have decided to pick the direction of evolution and change – grow with the demand of its audience – shift and change with the times – in doing this, they have thrived. Perhaps the films villain had the right idea after all, evolution has certainly worked for the Fast franchise.
When it’s all said and done, Hobbs and Shaw is a wild ride of self-aware camp that manages to exceed (in my view) whatever the Fast Franchise has been doing for the past decade. In many ways, Hobbs and Shaw, to me, exceeds your standard Fast film because it isn’t still attempting to hold onto some deep layer of meaning involving family and honor among thieves – it embraces its lunacy and instead wears that as its badge of honor.
Performance wise, both Statham and Dwayne play extensions of themselves – essentially getting what we’ve been given in the previous films. However, Dwayne Johnson gets a moment to pay tribute to some of his Samoan heritage — he takes this component seriously and you do see some authenticity behind his performance throughout this section of the film. Statham plays his cocky self, without providing any more emotional layers or revelations that dive into his character much deeper.
Hobbs and Shaw as a duo work well, with their constant bickering and boisterous comebacks at each other can be hit or miss, with the latter usually being the case; before long this film quickly feels like a 2 hour long roast battle in movie form. Unfortunately Idris Elba doesn’t really play black Superman as the trailer suggests and he achieves the difficult task of having even less of a personality than Clark Kent.
The visual aesthetic of this movie drives a much needed new flavour that compliments its editing and allows its action sequences to flow almost seamlessly. The only thing that disrupts the smooth movement is the blatant CGI that taints the vigorous high-octane action scenes. Stuntman turned director David Leitch unfortunately does not embrace his distinctive action style as much as I would have liked. Hobbs and Shaw sadly lacks the synergy between grounded action and grittiness in its fight choreography as this film is just begging for an R-rating.
The location scouting is thoughtful featuring a stunning high-scale action set piece on a beautiful Samoan field as well as impressive sequences throughout the streets of London. The set design is striking as it maintains a strong atmosphere of intensity throughout its action sequences. The sound design felt far too disingenuous at times as the soundscape felt like a mix of Transformers, Pacific Rim and Iron Man. The original soundtrack featured in the film feels appropriate for another addition to the Fast & Furious franchise but doesn’t inject any new flavor for this spin-off. Tyler Bates riveting score feels like a much needed distinctive feature inside this film as each piece tends to blend nicely to what is happening on-screen.
What more can be said? There will always be a perpetual division between movie-goers in regards to the Fast franchise. Are these movies bad or not? People continue to argue this to this day; yet, the Fast films continue to succeed. A prevailing mindset from fans of these films are that its self-awareness should grant it some amnesty from criticism. Is there credence to this? Well, these films know they’re over-the-top, wacky, cheesy, and often ridiculous in their action — what some would call weaknesses, these films play them as strengths, and for that, I enjoy them. In my view this film’s self-awareness does grant it some leniency, just not too much. David Leitch has done a fine job of giving the audience what they want.; dumb action that is so self aware that it is bordering on parody. With rapid-fire wisecracks, physics defying action sequences, and an outlandish plot-line — Hobbs and Shore may be everything you’re looking for – or everything you’re not.