[Header Image: Vanessa Kirby as Hattie Shaw, Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw and Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs | Universal Pictures]
“I’m trying to save the world, which, for the record, will be my fourth time. ‘Cause I’m really good at it.”
I saw Hobbs & Shaw yesterday and even after sleeping on it, I don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around how I feel about it. I did like it and I certainly had an enjoyable time which isn’t a total surprise. The Fast & Furious is one of – perhaps even my absolute – favourite franchise of all time. So, going into this particular movie, I knew I was going to like it to some extent.
That being said, despite the similarities it shares with the rest of the franchise, it is very different and I would say it might be my least favourite overall although I do recommend checking it out at some point. Something that helps, is to separate this movie from the franchise just a little. It makes it much more fun because while there are similarities between Hobbs & Shaw and the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, it also has a lot of qualities about it that are independent. It’s also almost an entirely new cast and while one of the writers – Chris Morgan – has written for previous Fast & Furious instalments, it’s arguably still better to separate this particular movie to some extent.
Really, Hobbs & Shaw has one main flaw and that’s the fact that it comes across a little choppy. There are a few occasions where it seems to start and stop suddenly with little to no warning. Generally speaking, the plot is interesting enough and the actual order of events works really well, it’s mostly just the pacing. There were some weird moments throughout. The movie could have been much shorter but if they had simply made the most of the time they did have, it wouldn’t feel that way. There were so many moments where it felt like they were going to jump right into action but then it just stopped or there was a ton of build up just for it fall short. Overall, it created this sense of unfulfillment throughout that unfortunately made for a slightly bumpy ride. Also, just a quick side note, while the various back and forth between Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) were funny, they sometimes lasted too long which sucked the humour out of it just a little.
It also has a pretty open ending. There is a conclusion but there’s definitely a lot of room for more movies to be made. With how successful – and long – the Fast & Furious main series has become, it wouldn’t be too shocking for the Hobbs & Shaw spinoff to do the same. While I don’t expect it to be as long of a series, it makes sense that it was created with the obvious ambition of making more movies and really, it could easily pull it off. Despite its flaws, everyone involved is clearly passionate about it and there seems to be some indication that there are ideas in motion of where to take it next.
Stepping back to the choppiness, that also came through in some of the car scenes which is surprising considering it’s part of the Fast & Furious franchise. They weren’t all bad per se. In fact, there’s a sequence where Shaw drives his car through the busy streets of London and it’s phenomenal. We really get to experience the abilities of Brixton (Idris Elba), especially that of his bike, during that scene. It’s such a fun part of the movie that’s almost entirely seamless so it’s a little surprising – and very much a let down – when there are car scenes that come across a little less satisfying. That being said, cars were still very well incorporated considering Hobbs & Shaw is a bit of a divergence from the main series of the franchise. I really wasn’t expecting an awful lot so although certain scenes came across choppy, I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, as well as Shaw driving his car through London, my other favourite vehicle-based scene involved several cars and a helicopter that happened later in the movie and felt very much like the kind of wild thing you’d see in a Fast & Furious related movie.
Back tracking a little and speaking of Brixton, he’s actually a pretty great villain. I wouldn’t say there’s anything massively different between him and the other ‘villains’ from the franchise but that works. Something that’s been a common thread throughout the other movies is that characters – whether they’re friends or enemies – have some kind of connection or history. I won’t say what Brixton’s is or who it’s with but it does help to create that deeper thread that often comes with villains in the Fast & Furious world. And of course, those connections and histories aren’t just with Brixton, there are various ones throughout but of course, the biggest is still family.
Family is a common theme in every movie from the franchise and really the heart of each one and it’s pretty strong here in Hobbs & Shaw. We dive back into Shaw’s family and get a little more depth while with Hobbs, we find out more than we ever knew before. Like the other movies, it isn’t just about blood family but about making close bonds along the way. We see that particularly with the scenes set in Samoa but also in how Hobbs and Shaw’s relationship changes throughout the course of the movie. Parts of the scenes in Samoa reminded me a lot of moments from the franchise such as the “this is Brazil” scene from Fast and Furious 5 where the locals help Dom when Hobbs comes looking for him. They also reminded me a lot of the fact that the first movie focused on a small, tight group of friends who found each other and became a family.
Also, I feel like I have to note the characters. I really enjoyed everyone that was introduced. Eiza González’s character – Madam M – certainly deserved more screen time and I hope we get to see more of her in the future instalments. The other character that stood out the most – and probably my favourite overall – is Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). She was phenomenal and definitely the person I’m looking forward to seeing again the most.
At the end of the day, it’s not a perfect movie and it is a little hard to judge. On the one hand, it’s one of the weaker movies in the franchise but as I said, it shouldn’t necessarily be compared because it is clearly trying to be its own thing. Unfortunately, it’s hard. Being able to separate Hobbs & Shaw to some extent has allowed for me to really appreciate certain aspects of it, however, it is difficult to separate it in every way.
I often find myself comparing it to the main series when there are similar themes and scenes explored in those other movies. For now, it makes it harder to fully decide an opinion on the movie as a whole beyond the fact that I did enjoy it. Really, the telling thing will be when the sequel comes out (because let’s face it, there’s bound to be one). While there will always be some kind of connection to the main Fast & Furious series, if they can create an even bigger degree of separation, then it’ll be easier to judge Hobbs & Shaw in its own right. For now, because it’s only one movie, it’s hard not to compare it and a sequel will really tell if it can stand up and do its own thing. Definitely having more content for the new Hobbs & Shaw series will help to give it an independent personality that’s still clearly born from a well loved series.
Rating: ★★★★ /5