Fast & Furious evolves like no other franchises. Starting up as a night-racing blockbuster, the carsploitation saga expands into the epitome of over-the-top machismo galore, which at times poking out sci-fi, heist, or even disaster elements. Nobody can actually predict the franchise’s trajectory or direction; not even the filmmakers behind it. Vin Diesel thought he owned the franchise, having stayed in the franchise for the longest time (even when he’s practically absent from 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift). And yet, even Diesel could not believe that his public feud with Dwayne Johnson during the production of The Fate of the Furious would open a new direction; in fact, the beef branches out the franchise into two tracks. Johnson revs up with a spin-off focusing on his character and Jason Statham’s in Hobbs & Shaw; meanwhile, Diesel and the others will follow up the main canon in 2020 Fast 9.
Hobbs & Shaw, in fact, is a faithful spin-off, ticking all the mandatory boxes of the saga’s credo. Directed by John Wick & Deadpool 2 director, David Leitch, and written by long-time Fast & Furious writer, Chris Morgan, the spin-off doesn’t shy away from independently wreaking havoc with mixed bag of plot elements. Teaming up two alpha-males, apex predators of action flicks—Johnson reprising his role as DSS agent, Luke Hobbs, and Statham as a former Furious 7 villain, Deckard Shaw—for a Mission: Impossible level case, you can expect a flood of machismo and hyper-testosterone brawls.
Luke and Deckard are brought together to track and retrieve a lethal virus, which can wipe up a great deal of humanity. Unbeknownst to them, the virus is preserved by Deckard’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), who is framed and, at the same time, is hunted by an ultra-enhanced mercenary, Brixton (Idris Elba). Imagine this: a Fast & Furious movie involving a weapon of mass destruction, super-human villain and a utopia of human evolution. Hobbs & Shaw attempts to flex not only the body’s muscles but also the brain’s muscle, just like Hobbs’s flexing to Hattie in the interrogation chamber.
Luke and Deckard are depicted as if they’re two peas in a pod. Both men are family men; this is possibly the only aspect that makes a hundred percent sense since it is a Fast & Furious movie, a franchise known for the constant mi familia creed. Call it a Fast & Furious homecoming as writer Chris Morgan spices up another family reunion. Even further, the spin-off also unveils The Shaws family tree (which he first introduced via Luke Evans’ character, Owen, then Statham’s Deckard, and finally, Helen Mirren’s Margaret) with the introduction of Hattie. You wouldn’t regret it when you expect Statham to produce another spin-off for the badass Shaw family.
Even if Hobbs & Shaw carries the franchise’s most defining DNA, the quality of a Fast & Furious movie can only be judged upon how big is their action spectacles are executed. Whoever involves in any Fast & Furious installments must have been gagged with Stanley Kubrick’s famous quote about cinema. “If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed.” Spectacles are always bigger-than-life, even when they get to be physics-defying, hitting the caps-lock for the latter part of science fiction (remember the boastful gag of a space-themed Fast & Furious movie, believe it, they will make one someday).
From the need-for-speed street races in the first three movies to the bus hijack in Fast Five, from the tank chase in the sixth installment to the car-achute in Furious 7, each installment is tasked to overpower the previous ones. Now imagine, can Hobbs & Shaw top the climactic zombie cars rain and submarine chase in The Fate of the Furious? The simple answer is: no—in terms of scales. However, the movie’s biggest spectacle, albeit laughable, is pretty solid combining the body’s muscle (that might make Steve Rogers proud), the brain’s muscle (even when the whole scene is a no-brainer), and a series of muscle cars.
David Leitch’s direction is legit, especially, in staging close-quarter combat scenes as he flaunts in John Wick and Atomic Blonde. The only thing that is missing is the protagonists’ vulnerability (which ironically shows how vulnerable is the actors’ masculinity). At least, they balance the exhibitions of machismo with enough drama and abundance of dad jokes (wait until you see the movie’s two A-lister cameos) to compensate for the no-brainer actions. All in all, Hobbs & Shaw ticks all the mandatory blockbuster spectacles with some additional x-factors: Johnson & Statham’s dynamic chemistry, even when the story feels like a death threat to Mission: Impossible written by an 8-year old stud.