Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw Review:

Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw Review

Hobbs and Shaw - The first Fast and Furious spin-off movie - stars Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, and Vanessa Kirby.

Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw Review:
Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw Review:

A decade and four months ago, the Fast and Furious franchise was all but dead. The fourth eponymous entry — the second from director Justin Lin — had scored the worst reviews of the series yet, with criticism aimed towards the sheer CGI-ness of the action sequences amongst several other issues. 

But then surprisingly, Lin put Fast and Furious back on track with Fast Five, which became the franchise's first genuine hit and paved the way for future entries that rolled out as instant blockbusters. (The three films since have made more than two-thirds of the total earnings.) 

Fast and Furious is now big enough to warrant its own spin-off, and that's exactly what it's getting with Hobbs and Shaw, featuring the title characters played by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.

Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw review in detail

Fast Five didn't just hotwire Fast and Furious back to life, but it also began the franchise's slide into fantasy and sci-fi territory. Remember that endless runway in Fast & Furious 6? Or that jump between three buildings in Furious 7? 

Hobbs and Shaw director David Leitch — best known for Deadpool 2, Charlize Theron-starrer Atomic Blonde, and John Wick — knows that very well. And the writers — Fast and Furious veteran Chris Morgan, and Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) — and he leans into that fully with the spin-off, which is not even coy about it anymore. 

The villain Brixton (Idris Elba, from Luther), is equipped with bleeding-edge tech that literally makes him superhuman. No wonder that he is a self-proclaimed “black Superman” or referred to as the Terminator by others.

To cap it off, Brixton also has an autonomous motorbike in its command, which can access satellite data and calculate interception routes at a moment's notice. It all comes together to produce action sequences in Fast and Furious: Hobbes and Shaw, who voluntarily shun physics and make them completely cartoon. 

This is comparable to the franchise's later efforts, but the trouble for the Fast and Furious spin-off is that its set-pieces are not harmonious. 

Rather than a scene that was conceptualized, extensively storyboarded, and then shot and cut to perfection — which Leitch did well on John Wick and Atomic Blonde, but not with Deadpool 2 — those in Hobbs and Shaw suffer from a lack of fluidity. 
Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw Review:
Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw Review:

And when the action doesn't flow beat-to-beat, it takes you out of the moment. In other words, you stop caring.

Fast and Furious: Hobbs & Shaw opens in London, as it introduces MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby, from The Crown) - the younger sister of Deckard Shaw of Statham - a team to secure a dead virus Leads. 

Things go sideways after Brixton prompts Hattie to inject himself with it and flee, taking the virus for himself. This is a good enough set-up for two new characters that viewers don't know, as it establishes their credibility neatly and effortlessly. It then turns to the audience first, who we know what they are doing. 

Hobbes spends time with his nine-year-old daughter, who have questions about his family, while Shaw goes to prison to see his mum (Helen Mirren, returning from Fast and Furious 8), who freaks out. Itches for

Pretty soon, the two are pulled in by the CIA to find the absconding Hattie, who's been branded rogue by the MI6. Both declare that they work alone and reject the idea of a partner. 

You don't need to have seen the previous Fast and Furious films Johnson and Statham have appeared in to understand why Hobbs and Shaw don't get along with each other, but the film plays better if you have. 

Naturally, they are forced to work together — the film's called Hobbs and Shaw for a reason — and it's their comedic, one-upmanship banter that powers nearly all the film's humor. 

After all, it's why Universal Pictures granted them their own spin-off. But that humor, while it may have worked in spades in previous mainline entries, wears thin in Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw because it's the only thing on offer.

Morgan and Pearce clearly recognize that during the writing process, actors who tell Johnson and Leach an extended surprise from Cameron have previously worked - we wouldn't say who they are - to provide additional comic support. 
Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw Review:
Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw Review:

But the narrative seems to be grafted onto the narrative as comic relief, and the fact that it is one-dimensional in itself and lacks the variety of ensemble that usually empowers Fast and Furious.

Meanwhile, Elba, with his fantastic sardonic delivery, only gets one opportunity to participate in the film's comedic elements. The rest of the time, he's forced to brood around like he does on Luther, working off very little story-wise except some beef with Shaw, and an evil mastermind's modulated voice that only shows up as the vertical bars of a music equalizer. 

Elba has such a captivating presence that you can't help but wonder what he would bring to a more laid-back Fast and Furious entry, and it's a shame that Hobbs and Shaw don't make room for him to transition into the bigger world.

An additional problem is that the film fails to elaborate on the bonds that have inspired the franchise's emotional origins: (found) family. For one, Hobbes's daughter and Shaw's mother are tangible for the film. 

Sure, Shaw's sister is central to the plot, but this is the first time we're seeing them together. We have no shared history of their relationship. In an effort to bridge that family gap, Hobbes and Shaw transport their characters to the island of Samoa, the former's home in the final act - in reality, shot in Hawaii - where Hobbes attempts to reconcile with them Did it But there is very little meat to that story.

And it doesn't help that without the rest of the Fast and Furious family present, the message also rings a bit hollow. It's possible that the ongoing feud between Vin Diesel and Johnson was to blame for that, with the latter admitting they share “a fundamental difference in philosophies on how we approach movie-making and collaborating”. 

(It's likely why Johnson isn't a part of Fast & Furious 9.) If that's why Diesel & Co. don't appear in Hobbs and Shaw, it's ironic that a franchise about a bunch of stubborn petrolheads who reluctantly team up with their worst enemies — Statham's Deckard was the villain two films ago — now can't find a way to resolve their real-world differences.

From a narrative point of view, Hobbes and Shaw's only good thing is that it never turns Hattie into a dancer in distress, even as plots can easily step in that direction. 

This is a good move for the Fast and Furious franchise with an infamous, troubled history with on-screen representation, portrayal, and treatment of women. In fact, both men regularly turn to women to save them in the film. 

Sadly, Kirby is the only on-screen prominence, with other female actors - including Izza Gonzalez of Baby Driver fame - having at least cameos.

In the end, although it seems pointless to complain about an argument in a franchise that gave up on him a while ago, Hobbes and Shaw voluntarily put themselves in a corner by placing a 72-hour timer on a horrific incident. 

Much of that time ends before the two moves away, even hooking up with Hattie, and then the film spends more time flying its characters around the world, from London to Russia to Ukraine Going, and then all the way to Samoa in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 

By our calculations, it is easily over a day and a half in the air. But it's fast and furious, so does it really matter?

The big problem, in the end, is that there is no real emotional engagement with the on-screen characters, which is why you don't know yourself about the holes in such a plot. 

Towards the end of the film, Hobbes declares that they are all about people and hearts, while Brixton is about technology. And that's why they will always win. 

You fall for it half in the moment because Johnson is so honest in his delivery. But Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw have none of those people and heart, itself. 

It cannot espouse the philosophy it preaches because it's so interested and determined to be over-the-top that it essentially stands as a shiny spectacle crafted with the help of technology.

It's a far cry from the franchise's nadir, but it's also a far cry from its zenith. In the end, Hobbs and Shaw is a middling Fast and Furious entry — and that's not worth much at all.

Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw are out now in India in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. There are three scenes during the credits, so stay in your seat till the end if you want to catch those.

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