When a deadly virus goes missing in London, the CIA recruit Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to retrieve it. But they're not the only ones looking for it, a mysterious organisation has big plans for the virus and have dispatched Brixton Law (Idris Elba) - a cybernetically enhanced superhuman - to find the person who has it and steal it from them. That person is Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), a rogue MI-6 agent who just happens to be Deckard's sister. If these three want to keep the virus out of the wrong hands, they're going to have to learn to work together, that's if they don't kill each other first.
When I first heard that a spin-off from Fast and Furious was in the works, my reaction was not positive. I am not a fan of this franchise, I was once but after the first three movies my interest died a very quick death. Then I heard David Leitch was directing - one half of the pair responsible for John Wick and the man behind Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2! - which got me interested. The fact that the movie would focus on Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham's characters rather than any of the other series regulars also helped. This is still a Fast and Furious movie, but it's a Fast and Furious movie without all of the annoying bits, namely the cast and their repetitive use of the word "family" - which means it actually has some meaning within the story rather than reading like a cheap catchphrase.
Hobbs and Shaw is a popcorn movie, plain and simple, and it doesn't make the mistake of trying to be anything else. David Leitch does what he does best, delivers some extreme action in which cars, bikes, helicopters and people get caught up in gleeful destruction as these larger-than-life characters do battle across several continents. In keeping with Leitch's style, a lot of said action is achieved practically, and where that isn't possible some pretty good CGI has been used in its place. Hobbs and Shaw is exactly what it says on the tin: a big, over-the-top action movie with some great set pieces, it's a lot of fun and exciting to watch. A perfect example being the cable fight on the side of a skyscraper, followed by a heart-pounding chase through the streets of London.
And in the middle of it all are two bickering bald blokes and the only person who can prevent them from killing each other. The banter between Hobbs and Shaw is one of the big selling points of...well "Hobbs and Shaw" - that and several fun cameos. I like the early comparison shots that show how different and yet similar these two are, although making London dreary and grey compared to sunny Los Angeles is a bit on the nose. The pair really do have great chemistry, considering they pretty much do nothing but argue. After which they usually take out all their rage on whatever henchmen Brixton happens to throw at them in the many well choreographed fight scenes. Our heroes' attempt to infiltrate Brixton's hideout is one of their funnier escapades, as they go through a series of henchmen in an attempt to open a door. Then there's the interrogation scene, where despite their perilous predicament the boys can't help but provoke and annoy Brixton. I get the feeling this was one of the more fun scenes to film for Johnson, Statham and Elba, who all play off each other perfectly.
Wading through this ocean of testosterone - and more than holding her own - is Kirby's Hattie. After seeing her in Mission: Impossible - Fallout, it's great to see Kirby take on a more "front line" role. She's definitely not there to just be a pretty face, her character is tough, intelligent and not afraid to get stuck in. Rather than the traditional damsel in distress, she continually has to keep her two co-workers in line, and she has to save them on more than one occasion. This movie may be called Hobbs and Shaw, but it wouldn't be anywhere near as good without Vanessa Kirby! Hattie's not the only strong female character either, Dame Helen Mirren reprises her role from Fast 8 as Deckard's mother and Lori Pelenise Tuisano appears in a similar role, and they're two women you don't want to mess with! In fact, this movie carries with it an important message: don't argue with your mother, you'll regret it.
Despite the fact that this is a spin-off, the creators haven't forgotten that this movie exists within the Fast and Furious universe. Most, if not all of the action involves a variety of vehicles, a lot of them modified in some way. That said, the approach and the style is quite different, with a lot of the vehicles being representative of the environment in which they're being used. The only one I didn't like is Brixton's bike, the way it folds, contorts and drives itself around is too much like a Transformer, it even sounds exactly like one. Brixton himself on the other hand, actually made for a pretty good villain, not as moustache twirling as the trailers portrayed him to be. And although I think they went a bit too far with his "modifications", he is the perfect villain for a movie like this; no frills, nothing fancy. In fact I think the man himself says it best; "bad guy".
Hobbs and Shaw is a long way from where the Fast and Furious franchise started. But it is the breath of fresh air it needed, despite the friction it caused with other cast members. It's a balls to the wall action movie that's pure excitement from start to finish. The trio of protagonists are a lot of fun to watch, especially when they're arguing! Something I hope we will see a lot more of as these mismatched heroes continue to go after the mysterious organisation, Eteon in the inevitable - and very welcome - sequels.
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