When you buy a ticket to any film that is part of, or connected to, the Fast & Furious franchise you already know what you are likely to get. And, most assuredly, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw the first spin-off from the series, delivers everything you would expect in the way of set pieces.
The obligatory car chases, shoot-outs and fist fights are more than generously supplied, and for those who like to get their visual gratification from witnessing the wanton explosive destruction of expensive movie sets, they will be fully satiated by film’s end, as much of its two hundred million dollar budget goes up in smoke before your very eyes.
Yet, whilst the film’s gratuitous comic book violence is pretty relentless, Hobbs & Shaw tempers this with a surprising, and disarming, amount of emotional character development that sees our unstoppable two man and one woman wrecking team wrestling with their inner demons simultaneously as they grapple with the external forces of evil they must overcome in order to save the world from imminent utter destruction.
For single father Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson, this means having to care for – and protect – his pre-teen daughter and also finding a way to reconcile with his estranged brother, mother and extended Samoan family whilst fulfilling his obligations as a DSS federal agent. And for British Special Forces assassin, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), this means appeasing his incarcerated mother, Magdalene (Helen Mirren), by reconciling with his sister Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) who also just happens to be an MI6 field agent who has become caught up in a terrorist plot to unleash a deadly virus upon the world.
Kirby who is best known for her roles in period dramas and for her award-winning performance as Princess Margaret in the television series The Crown, is tremendously convincing in her first foray into an action hero role here, matching her more venerated co-stars blow for blow throughout the film.
Accomplished British actor, Idris Elba, plays Brixton Lore, a former MI6 agent who has gone rogue and who has now been ‘physically modified’ to possess a variety of superhuman abilities. He provides a suitably imposing foe for Hobbs and the two Shaws to battle against in their race to defuse the deadly viral threat.
Occasional comic turn cameos from actors Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart provide timely respite from the tsunami of noise and waste and contribute positively to the film’s surprisingly well-balanced narrative arc.
Director David Leitch has done a fantastic job in melding all of the elements of this film into a satisfyingly entertaining whole. The film will undoubtedly gain the approval of the franchise’s existing legion of avid fans and will encourage curious newbies into joining the Fast & Furious family as well.
This film’s strengths are that it is well-paced, funny, and, despite its significant body count and copious amounts of unnecessary property damage, unexpectedly heart-warming.
No doubt, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is destined for box-office domination over the next few months. Check it out.
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is screening in cinemas now. Check your local listings for session times.