If you went back to the year 2001 and told people watching the original The Fast & The Furious, imagine trying to explain to them that 18 years on, the steroid and nitro-laced redo of Point Break would have morphed into a universe less about illegal car racing than it is international espionage and world-killing diseases. Equally, if you were to try and explain to someone who was new to the franchise how humble its beginnings were, I imagine that with the sheer chutzpah of the modern iterations, it might be somewhat disappointing.
Hobbs & Shaw is the first film to appear with the Fast & Furious presents prefix but if the success of this film can be translated to the forthcoming Netflix animated series, it will be unlikely to be the last. Starring Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs, something of a deuteragonist in the fifth encounter turned full-fledged member of La Famiglia and Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw, the main antagonist of the seventh film, reluctant ally in the eighth and brother of Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw (a character conspicuous by his absence considering the series’ signature focus on the importance of family). It sees them teaming up to stop Idris Elba’s Brixton Lore, a supersoldier with a name straight out of BBC’s Hustle.
Hustle is a surprisingly apt reference point for what is a slick, well-paced adventure with enough twists, turns and team banter and bonding moments but one that feels like it could be the feature-length pilot to a great television series. This is not a criticism of the shooting style. Helmed by John Wick and Deadpool 2 director, David Leitch in collaboration with his DOP from those films, Jonathan Sela have made a movie that looks every inch of its high-budget, producing tight action that while often ludicrous, is never less than believable in its styling.
The script is good fun but with that particular TV structure, it relies on the actors to give more to their characters than just being stock models. Elba, in particular, lends his character an intensity and charisma that elevates him above being just your standard ‘villain of the week’. Fun turns by the likes of The Crown‘s Vanessa Kirby as well as British acting royalty Helen Mirren and Eddie Marsan help round out a very fun cast.
Bubbly, moving quickly between fun set-pieces and throwing in a fair-few cameos from Leitch and Johnson’s previous work but at just over two and a quarter hours, the film is not as lean as it could be, sometimes overindulging various star turns desire to extend dialogue scenes. Also for the effective nature of larger-scale moments and smaller, close-range fights, the script is sometimes a little boilerplate, providing a very generic MacGuffin to string it all together.
The thing is, this is a film for those who want to see two of action’s modern heavyweights providing a ratatat display of odd couple/buddy cop chemistry, with a side order of ridiculous car stunts. Yes, the effects are less impressive than the practical ones deployed by Mad Max: Fury Road but if I were to spend the rest of my life comparing all car films to Fury Road, I would be the one driven mad.
It’s a very fun film and the Blu-Ray package compliments well the movie with a great array of deleted scenes, alternate takes and behind-the-scenes featurettes that really help to sell every aspect of the film. Also, there are about five minutes just on Dwayne Johnson’s dog. What more could you ask for?
Dir: David Leitch
Scr: Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce
Prd: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Chris Morgan, Hiram Garcia
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba, Helen Mirren, Cliff Curtis, Eddie Marsan, Roman Reigns, Eliza Gonzalez
DOP: Jonathan Sela
Music: Tyler Bates
Run time: 136 mins
Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is available on Blu-ray and DVD now.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is out now on Blu-Ray & digital download