After eight films and over $5 billion at the box office, it's not all that surprising that the powers that be--Universal Pictures--thought it was time to diversify with its Fast and the Furious movie franchise. That's what brought Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw to the world; a puzzling title for a puzzling movie.
Before going too far, it should be noted that Hobbs & Shaw isn't a bad movie. It's wildly entertaining and loaded with the kind of thrills you come to expect from Fast & Furious movies--from explosive car chases to superhuman antics that could be pulled off by no mere mortal, even if the characters of the film are supposed to be your average human beings. If that's why you watch these movies, chances are you're going to have a great time when you settle down in the theater to watch Hobbs & Shaw.
The plot is relatively simple. Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) both find themselves trying to track down a horrific virus that a shadowy organization is striving to get their hands on. The group wants to unleash a global genocide that they say will save the planet. They're sort of like Thanos, but just to Earth instead of the entire galaxy. Shaw's sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) gets wrapped up in the middle of it, and it's up to the three of them to save the world because who else could do it?
There are some serious flaws in the movie's plot which cannot be ignored, though. For instance, the film doesn't seem to remember most of what happened in The Fate of the Furious--the previous installment of the franchise. After burying the hatchet in that movie, Hobbs and Shaw hate each other again for some reason. Remember that scene of the two of them in prison trying to out-badass each other in F8? There's a lot of that in here. And while Statham and Johnson have great on-screen chemistry and are very entertaining together, there's absolutely no explanation as to why they're at each other's throats.
There's also a moment early on in the film where it's said that Hobbs still works for the Diplomatic Security Service, even though F8 ended with his character turning down a job there to spend more time with his daughter. While there's no telling how much time has passed since the last movie, a simple throwaway line about going back to his career could have smoothed that entire thing out.
Inconsistencies like is pop up here and there throughout the movie, making it difficult to track any sort of continuity if you're a fan of the franchise's previous films. Given that Hobb & Shaw was written by Chris Morgan--who also penned every film between The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift and F8, you'd think he'd know something about the continuity. Then again, this is the same writer who had Shaw kill Han (Sung Kang) in Furious 7, only to have him join the "family" in Fate of the Furious. Maybe continuity doesn't matter in these movies, but it absolutely should. Can you imagine Captain America teaming up with Thanos post-Avengers: Endgame? No, because that would be ridiculous. And the Fast & Furious crew are nothing if not the Avengers of street racing.
Back to the movie at hand, though. It's not just canon inconsistencies that weigh down the flow of Hobbs & Shaw; it's also some strange character choices that were made. Take new addition to the franchise Vanessa Kirby, for instance. The breakout star of Mission Impossible: Fallout plays Hattie Shaw in the film, the younger sister of Statham's Deckard. In a series of flashbacks to their childhood, viewers are led to believe they're relatively close in age. In reality, Statham is 20 years older than Kirby, and the two don't look anywhere near the same age.
There's also something of a romantic subplot between Hattie and Johnson's Luke Hobbs, which sticks out like a sore thumb. After seeing Hobbs insult and bicker with Shaw throughout the entire film, throwing a romance into the mix doesn't quite work. It's not helped by the fact that Johnson is 16 years older than Kirby; However, based on the flashbacks of a young Hattie and Deckard, who knows how old anybody is. What's more, Johnson is many things, from would-be king of action movies to one of the most charismatic people you're going to find in on the big screen. But he's simply not a romantic lead.
Even with all of these critiques, Hobbs & Shaw is a ridiculously fun trip to the movies. As mentioned before, chances are plot and believability aren't the reason you love to see Fast & Furious movies. If you've happened to catch any of the trailers for this film, you know the action set pieces are as big as any from throughout the franchise, with Statham and Johnson vying for the honor of being the coolest person on the planet--and somehow they're both winning.
The movie adds some fresh blood to the franchise in Idris Elba's Brixton Lore, a rogue MI6 agent that has been genetically modified with cybernetic arts, making him part man/art machine. He's like the Terminator, but funnier. He's the muscle for the group trying to get their hands on the virus. Elba seems to be having fun laying such an over the top villain, complete with his self-driving motorcycle, which is one of the more ridiculous, yet fun gadgets in the movie.
Then there's Kirby. As with the most recent Mission Impossible, she works hard to steal this film and ends up being a piece of the Fast & Furious puzzle I want to see far more of. She's an incredibly powerful and capable fighter who ends up having to save herself quite a bit of the time, while Hobbs and Shaw get tangled up in other battles--including some with each other. She's a force to be reckoned with in this movie, with the only fault being that she gets sidelines from time-to-time when it would have been more fun to see her in the middle of the action. Should this spin-off get a sequel--and it had better--it needs to be called Hobbs and Shaws, with Hattie playing just as important a role as her two teammates.
The film is filled with an assortment of other familiar faces, some of which I won't spoil. Cliff Curtis and WWE superstar Roman Reigns as Hobbs' brothers during the portion of the film set in Samoa is a nice touch, though, even if Reigns doesn't have a single line in the movie. Instead, he stands around looking intimidating and does his signature wrestling moves--you have to start somewhere, though.
Ultimately, Hobbs & Shaw is probably the movie you want it to be. It's funny with massive-scale action, the likes of which you rarely see outside of this franchise. It's loaded with car chases, explosions, and fight scenes in which every character should repeatedly die. It's just unfortunate that the pieces of the film that aren't soaked in action don't add up. This movie could have been incredible. Instead, it's just a lot of adrenaline-fueled fun. Sometimes, though, that's more than enough.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is in theaters on August 2.