VOD film review: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Ivan Radford | On 17, Dec 2019
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby
Watch Hobbs & Shaw online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
If you’ve never heard the names “Hobbs” and “Shaw”, then Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw will likely be of no interest. If they do, however, then you’ll know what to expect from this unlikely spin-off from the motoring franchise – and you won’t be all that surprised to hear words like “explosion”, “helicopter chase” and “cybernetically-enhanced terrorist”. If those words have piqued your interest, rest assured: this entertainingly ridiculous action movie is for you.
The film catches up with Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Statham) after the events of the Fast & Furious films to date. They’re brought together by the CIA when Hattie (Kirby), Deckard’s sister, injects herself with Snowflake, a virus that’s being targeted by a tech terror cell. Their plan? To eradicate the human population and forward their goal of upgrading humanity with electronic implants that give them superhuman abilities, speed and strength.
Brixton Lore (Elba) is their poster boy, and the revelation that he has a grudge against Shaw is about as subtle as his brilliantly daft name. But Brixton’s enhanced physicality means that Deckard alone can’t face him down, and so Hobbs and his old frenemy have to team up to save the world.
The fun of Hobbs and Shaw is spelled out in the title: Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are like two charged balls of charisma, and their collision produces a force of pure entertainment. Simply seeing the pair trade verbal blows is a joy, and director David Leitch and his team smartly build upon their dynamic – straight-laced brute strength versus sneaky and agile – to create set pieces that are shaped by their characters. The result escalates absurdly but convincingly, with a string of chases and confrontations that manage to feel fresh and diverse.
If that testosterone fest threatens to overshadow Hattie, Vanessa Kirby doesn’t let it, making her mark with humour, sarcasm and a dose of similarly no-nonsense violence. Idris Elba, meanwhile, completes the lead quartet with a swaggering turn that sees him visibly enjoying being the bad guy.
It’s a shame, then, that the script, by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce, doesn’t really deliver a plot smart enough to match its cast, despite its hefty runtime. It’s testament to Pearce (who penned Iron Man Three), though, that there are enough laughs to help stop the pace from dragging – and a credit to the cast and stunt team that, as things get wisely dialled down for the finale, the novelty hasn’t worn off. The result is a spin-off that, despite the generic villain, lives up to the silliness of those two lead names – and, even if you’ve never heard of them before, still leaves you looking forward to the inevitable sequel.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.