“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” speeds into theaters as the first spinoff in the “Fast & Furious” franchise.
When Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) injects herself with a deadly virus known as “Snowflake,” she’s falsely framed and hunted down by MI6 agent Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are assigned to extract the virus from its dormant carrier before it’s unleashed to the public by Lore.
The film also stars Eiza González and Helen Mirren. It’s directed by David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde,” “Deadpool 2.”)
This is the ninth entry in the “Fast & Furious” series, and I’ve more than had my fill of them. After the pointless continuation with “The Fate of the Furious” after a perfect ending with “Furious 7,” I wanted to see the series end.
The idea of a spinoff with Hobbs and Shaw certainly was intriguing, particularly with a talented action director such as Leitch. It is entertaining, but I’d like to see the series wrap up.
One of the main things about this film is its loose ties to the others. Dominic Toretto and the gang are, thankfully, nowhere to be found. This entry coasts on the charm of its cast and enjoyable action.
Despite the ridiculous title, “Hobbs & Shaw” gets by on its energetic performances. Johnson and Statham boast terrific chemistry, slewing fun insults at each other throughout. Their real personalities are evident during a number of funny, bickering moments.
When the two aren’t fighting, their action scenes are excellent, helped by careers that have been packed with action experience.
Kirby stands out. After stealing several scenes in “Mission: Impossible-Fallout,” she has been on my radar. She absolutely dazzles in the high-octane action set pieces and more than holds her own aside Johnson and Statham.
Kirby’s brains-over-brawn approach accents their fighting styles incredibly well. And Leitch does a great job in crafting some well-made hand-to-hand action sequences.
Elba does a fine job as the film’s antagonist. Posing as a superhero-like cyborg, he asserts himself as a legitimate threat to the characters. Elba carries enough menace to assert himself as a worthy foe. He really packs a punch in the hand-to-hand combat.
There are crazy action sequences involving high-speed motorcycle chases, a truck chase in an oil plant and a vehicle-versus-helicopter fight in the finale. There’s no shortage of gun play, fists and explosions. It’ll likely be worth the admission price. But don’t expect a gripping plot or character development.
The action is noticeably toned down compared to Leitch’s previous films. Serving as a co-director on “John Wick” and solo directing “Atomic Blonde” and “Deadpool 2,” Leitch has established a particular brand of action. His films feature bloody and relentless action — especially in close quarters combat.
While Leitch employs those skills, there’s noticeably more “hiding” of blood through careful framing and editing. I never felt the full punch of the action that I did with his previous films. That’s not to say the action falls flat, but it’s just toned down. If you can get over this, you’ll likely have a good time.
“Hobbs & Shaw” is an entertaining step up from the previous “Fast & Furious” entry. While the series’ tires are well past burned up, I can still feel safe in recommending the film to fans of the franchise.
From great comedic chemistry among its stars, to entertainingly zany action, the film delivers on what it promises. No more, no less.
I give “Hobbs & Shaw” 3.25 stars out of 5.
“Hobbs & Shaw” is rated PG-13 and runs 136 minutes.