Movie Review: The Explosions and the Banter Continue with the First Fast & Furious Spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw

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If there’s a trope that’s been hammered to death over the years in films and television shows, it’s “the odd couple.” Beyond just the idea of neat freak Felix Ungar being roommates with slob Oscar Madison in Neil Simon’s play in 1965 (and subsequent movie and TV adaptations), the concept of two opposites trying to co-exist has been explored time and again with varying degrees of success. The most famous example of recent vintage might be veteran by-the-book cop Roger Murtaugh teaming with firebrand youngster Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series. It’s easy to see why the formula works, after all, the differences in the personalities of the characters are rife with comedic possibilities. That takes us to the latest exploration of the trope, albeit in a big budget action flick with a huge franchise to live up to, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.

Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), single father to daughter Sam and Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent, was introduced in Fast Five as a bruiser of a man who is very good at hunting down bad guys. In Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), we are shown a disgraced former member of the UK Special Forces who we are introduced to at the end of Fast & Furious 6. He enjoys the finer things in life and has a dysfunctional yet loving relationship with his mother Magdalene (Helen Mirren). These two were previously shown to loathe each other in previous installments of the franchise but are now forced to work together.

When Deckard’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) injects herself with the dangerous Snowflake virus to keep it from the hands of cybernetically-enhanced Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), she immediately becomes the target of the terrorist organization Eteon. The CIA recruits Hobbs and Shaw separately because the agency believes that their skills complement each other and that together, they can both save Hattie and stop the threat that is Brixton Lore. It turns out that Shaw and Lore have history together, adding even more fuel to this fire. Both Hobbs and Shaw can’t bring themselves to trust the other, but if they don’t, a weaponized virus that can harm millions will be unleashed.

The key to a good spinoff rests on a couple of things, namely: capture some of the elements of the franchise that you’re spinning off from, focus on the popular characters that you are taking with you to the spinoff, and mix them together for a fun result. Director David Leitch manages to do all of these things while also adding a few things to Hobbs & Shaw. In Johnson and Statham, he already has two established action stars who have proven time and again their ability to carry movies by themselves. Bringing these two combustible elements together based off their history in the Fast & Furious movies is a brilliant move, and their almost non-stop banter and insulting of each other adds to the entertainment value.

With Elba as the evil Brixton, the actor gets to move out of his comfort zone of being a good guy and instead gets to chew scenery as a supervillain. Elba already played a lead role in the first Pacific Rim while supporting Chris Hemsworth as Heimdall in several Thor and Avengers movies. He’s already proven adept at playing villains in both The Jungle Book and Star Trek Beyond, but his Brixton is so over the top that it’s almost funny. When he declares, “I’m Black Superman,” then proceeds to slow-mo punch both Hobbs and Shaw, a small part of you cheers him on for being so good at being bad.

Hobbs & Shaw not only allows these two characters to branch out from the main F&F series, they’re also given room to build their own team for their own future sequels. A couple of cameos here may provide clues about that future team, so that’s something to look forward to. Fans of the main franchise are still waiting, however, on how the filmmakers are going to resolve a dastardly crime that Deckard Shaw committed in past resulting in the death of the beloved Han Seoul-Oh character, and Leitch lays the groundwork for that in this film.

Since this does springboard off F&F, an absurd amount of women, great cars, and explosions are expected. Happily, Leitch and his crew kept that part of the deal. The locations move from London to Los Angeles, all the way to Samoa (albeit the latter was a bit of a stretch) but allows Hobbs to add to his own backstory and give Johnson a means to pay tribute to his own family lineage.

 

About the Author:

Jason Inocencio was once the Digital Editor of adobo magazine who still loves seeing great campaigns from all over the world. He proudly shows off his love for all kinds of geeky things, whether it be movies, TV shows, comics, sports, or trivia.

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