So in 2001 Vin Diesel & Paul Walker, and a bunch of other guys raced muscle cars in the street. Then in 2006 things really heated up. No I’m not talking about Tokyo Drift (I still dig the Karate Kid-ness of that one) I’m talking about the epic battle of Blu-Ray & HD DVD! That’s right kids, the Fast & Furious series is older than Blu-Ray. Just let that one sink in for a bit.
So here we are over a decade later and the ninth film in the series which is technically a spin-off that has two characters that were introduced in the more recent films, I honestly can’t tell you which ones. Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) a U.S. Diplomatic Secret Service Agent and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) a rouge special forces assassin make their way onto the screen as the unlikely duo Hobbs & Shaw, but if you think about it, this was destined to happen, ever since a classic team up way back in 1989 by the name Tango & Cash, more on that in a bit, and more ampersands to come.
MI6 Agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) and her team are extracting a deadly world killing virus when they encounter Brixton Lore (Edris Elba) a super human self described “bad guy” who wants the virus for obvious nefarious means. Lore frames Hattie and soon after, Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Statham) are brought in to work together to get the girl, defeat the villain, and save the day, in that order. Now if they can only get along.
And that’s it, that the plot of the film. And to be honest, that’s all that there needs to be. This movie like the majority of the F & F series is all about the action and the characters. It helps doubly so as the charisma from the two leads is enough to cover the over 2 hour running time. Both Johnson and Statham are in their element which leads them to their comfort zone where they are kicking ass one minute and then hurling hilarious insults at each other the next. Director David Leitch does his best to oblige with many tight closeups of the pair’s faces as they cut the other down, as if he just put the camera on them and said “say a put down for this situation, then say three more and we will put in the funniest.” There are some great cameos in the film as well, one in particular is so great, you hope that they utilize it even better in the future.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw knows exactly what kind of film it is, ‘big-dumb-fun’ would not be totally fair, because it takes skill to make a film that supposedly takes place in the real world, yet several times throughout completely disobeys the laws of physics and common sense. There is sluggish moments that are borrowed from the franchise, that being the belief that it’s “family” above all else. Each character is dealing with some kind of fractured family dynamic, and almost every time it is referenced, you remember it was done better before and then they get back into the big ‘splosions and punching of faces and look good doing it.
Thirty years ago, two other stars in their primes put egos aside and starred together to take down bad guys, and that was Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell in the classic Tango & Cash. It makes total sense that this would happen again in roughly the same way, having Johnson and Statham getting their stand alone film together. When you think back to The Rundown where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo handed the then Rock the torch with the line “Have fun”. While Statham has for years said he strived to eventually be counted among the greats like Stallone and the other 80’s action stars. Both actors have all but cemented themselves as action movie icons and if the ending of Hobbs & Shaw is any indication, they will be doing it all over again soon, some how bigger and badder, and I for one cannot wait to see this dynamic duo team up and tear evildoers a new one.