Before you read this review of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, I just want you to know that I can’t stand this fucking franchise. I gave up keeping up with them after Furious 7 and felt like the Fast & Furious franchise peaked/was tolerable around Fast Five and never really went anywhere worthwhile before or since. I have not seen all the films and really only seemed to watch every other entry, but whether you’re in a heist or a drag race that lethal dose of masculinity being projectile vomited all over you by an entire cast (women included) for two hours straight is dull and tiresome. In fact, just call this franchise “Dull & Tiresome” from here on out and I doubt anyone would notice. It’s even got “tire” in there for car…stuff.
Ignoring the fact that screenwriters Chris Morgan (writer of every Fast and Furious entry since Tokyo Drift) and Drew Pearce (writer and director of the flop known as Hotel Artemis) were involved, I actually like David Leitch’s work (co-director of John Wick, director of Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde) even if he is probably going to fuck up that Enter the Dragon remake. The trailers also made Hobbs & Shaw look like the stupid kind of action film I might enjoy; a bunch of fight scenes and chase sequences that give the middle finger to physics. But when a big moment in the film is a group of the good guys willingly bringing a bunch of sharp sticks to a battle where the villains are loaded to the teeth with highly advanced firearms, then you know you’ve jumped headfirst into the deep end of ridiculous without a special needs helmet.
The film is quick to point out that even though Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is in Los Angeles and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is in London, they’re essentially similar characters. Hobbs is a big dude who likes to Hulk Smash shit while Shaw likes to think he has more class and finesse to his ass beatings and exaggerated torture devices. Despite their different cultures and supposedly unique way of approaching their work, they do nothing but talk trash, fuck shit up, simultaneously kick unsuspecting guys in the nuts, and track shit that needs tracking because that’s what trackers do. They reluctantly join forces and are in constant competition with one another to find some CT17 virus, which is currently inside Shaw’s MI6 operative sister Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) and is being hunted by formerly dead, cyber genetically altered, and current superhuman criminal mastermind Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). Don’t get too attached to the whole virus thing since even the film can’t keep up with what the hell it’s supposed to be.
The highlight of Hobbs & Shaw is the amount of cameos it’s able to squeeze into its excruciating two-hour-and-fifteen-minute runtime. The film utilizes about a third of the cast of a certain sequel to a certain film starring a certain Regenerating Degenerate and that cast is responsible for the humor that works best in whatever this spinoff is supposed to accomplish. Idris Elba is cool as shit as Brixton Lore. He’s this cocky and unstoppable bad ass who has a history with Shaw and his car chase on his self-driving motorcycle where he slides under a bus in slow motion is too sick for words. Vanessa Kirby has this on-screen presence that outshines the consistent bickering between Hobbs and Shaw. She’s the one capable female character in the film (Helen Mirren sitting behind glass doesn’t count) who seems to be the only one thinking logically, but it took her doing the dumbest thing imaginable at the beginning of the film to get that way.
This action film smorgasbord rides on the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, but that gets old as soon as they start sort-of working together. Their incessant ribbing of each other, desire to always outdo one another, and nonstop unfiltered machismo being this palpable elephant in the room leads to nothing but verbal dick size comparisons and leaves you thinking that maybe they’ll make out or grope each other by the end of the film. Spoiler alert: maybe they’re saving that for the sequel.
There isn’t enough of a differentiation between action sequences in Hobbs & Shaw to make it feel worthwhile. There’s chemistry between the cast that is undeniable and some of its outrageousness is entertaining, but it all begins to feel similar and falls apart far sooner than it should. For those who care, there is a mid-credits and after-credits scene but neither is surprising. The cheesy motivational speeches, forced heartfelt stories, and “all technology in the world doesn’t beat heart” mumbo jumbo doesn’t help matters. The supposed story for this film is basically a dunce cap disguised as a pocket protector. There are intelligent elements used in ludicrous ways and maybe that’s what could describe the Fast & Furious franchise as a whole. You can bury a diamond in a dog turd and say it’s extravagant and that it’s valuable, but it’s still a dog turd that smells awful and lingers long after it’s been flushed away. 2/5 Toasters That Sound Like a Xylophone When Smashed Against Someone’s Face.