“Hobbs and Shaw” follows Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). As a powerful enemy grows, Hobbs and Shaw are forced to partner up. Both of these men have a chaotic past, so their relationship is very rocky. After finding Shaw’s sister, Hattie, the duo crosses paths with Brixton, a powerful cyborg. As these two parties battle one another, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Hobbs and Shaw are fighting to save the human race. Brixton, a member of a powerfully corrupt organization, wants to damage the modern world.
In all honesty, this is a film where anything goes. Simply put, “Hobbs and Shaw” is a live action cartoon come to life. The film defies physics, logic and reason. On a consistent basis, we witness unbelievable feats, primed for blockbuster theatrics. David Leitch, the director, is an action connoisseur, able to summon our greatest fantasies out of thin air.
Leitch takes great pride in pushing our imaginations to uncharted realms, and as time moves on, the absurdly charming plot becomes even more of a spectacle. There are specific films that attempt to shoehorn different identities into a narrative, which makes the entire picture feel cinematically incohesive. Fortunately, Leitch’s film knows what it is: mindless entertainment, designed to pump up viewers with cinematic adrenaline. It’s a cohesive flick, fully aware of its ambitious absurdity. As a result, we are able to latch onto the film’s cartoon-like magnetism.
In all honesty, “Hobbs and Shaw” is a breath of fresh air for the “Fast and Furious” series. The flick taps into the buddy cop formula, which gives the franchise new blood. Most importantly, we have to set our sights on Johnson and Statham. They have been franchise standouts since their debuts, and now we get to see them in all their glory, taking out bad guys left and right. As a whole, it’s a thrill to see these two performers flex their muscles in a film that is solely focused on their efforts.
Like the buddy cop flicks of old, “Hobbs and Shaw” thrives in its utilization of team conflict. Johnson and Statham fit right into the buddy cop system, creating characters who humorously collide (both verbally and non-verbally). At times, the humor feels a bit forced, but overall, Johnson and Statham’s banter will have fans begging for sequels. The end result is a consistently funny film, fueled by interpersonal dysfunction and nonverbal cleverness.
Johnson and Statham are action icons, able to generate raw energy at the drop of a hat. Once their relationship begins to develop, the ensuing resolution feels earned, because we have went through a grinder, filled with adversity. The screenplay, written by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce, understands one of the key requirements of good storytelling: The protagonists must suffer or else the narrative will fall flat. In this type of film, it would be easy to make a narrative in which Johnson and Statham breeze through their opponents. But in this case, Johnson and Statham are matched up against a strapping foe.
Part of this flick’s beauty is the utilization of supporting characters. The best buddy cop flicks create an appealing community, which surrounds a specific partnership, primed for conflict. “Hobbs and Shaw” takes this approach and runs with it. There is Brixton, a cybernetic madman, brilliantly portrayed by Idris Elba. And on the side of of heroism, there is Hattie Shaw, portrayed by the brilliant Vanessa Kirby. Ironically, these key performers help enhance “Hobbs and Shaw’s” inclusive nature.
Elba, an English performer and man of color, manages to become just as intimidating as Johnson and Statham. His gravitas creates an inhumane villain, brimming with unrelenting power. He’s a modern terminator, complete with stamina, hostility, and apathy. From the get-go, Elba’s performance sets up an exciting atmosphere, and as we learn more about his resources and ideology, the protagonists become cinematic underdogs. Sure, Johnson and Statham are the magnificent heroes who earn our affection. But overall, Elba is the straw that stirs the narrative. Without him, there wouldn’t be any stakes.
Kirby’s Hattie is a cinematic tour de force. In many ways, she steals the entire movie. Because of Kirby’s commitment, the character of Hattie cements herself as the best female character in the franchise. In many action films, female characters are helpless beings, devoid of individuality and progression. But in this case, the screenplay wonderfully turns Hattie into a female warrior. She is her own person. Of course, at the surface level, her physical skills are obvious, but if we look deeper, we will find an abundance of intellect, resolve, and depth. Simply put, Hattie is the most compelling female character within the “Fast and Furious” universe. She’s an example of female representation done right, and I can only hope that she turns up in future installments.
Another supporting character is Eiza González’s Madam M. In a small role, González (a Mexican actress) makes the most of her time onscreen. Her character is a powerful female who rules over a criminal world. As time goes on, we begin to see that “Hobbs and Shaw” constantly sets up scenarios where men and women have to work together in order to accomplish tasks. That’s a simple but deep message, especially in the MeToo era. It’s not about the separation of groups. It’s about the joining of groups. This is something that many people need to learn.
Eventually, “Hobbs and Shaw” introduces us to a Samoan community. Clearly, Johnson’s Samoan roots are on display. Quite frankly, I found this section of the film very intriguing. The “Fast and Furious” franchise has a solid track record in the diversity department, and here, the series attempts to shed light on a community that doesn’t receive a ton of attention when it comes to mainstream Hollywood narratives. While the studio’s efforts are commendable, the family dynamics feel underdeveloped. When the family reconnects, the resolution process feels unearned, due to the fast forwarding of familial conflict.
Once the action hits, we see a battle of epic proportions. One cannot deny the ambitiousness that went into this third act. But sadly, the finale becomes a bit repetitious due to slow motion photography, which makes a specific fight feel like a gimmick. Also, the huge car chase, while entertaining, overstays its welcome. All in all, “Hobbs and Shaw” is a fun flick with shades of diversity throughout. I implore everyone to see this film. It’s a classic case of summer fun. Turn off your brain, get your popcorn, sit back and relax. You’re in for a good time!
Originally Published 8/28/2019 by Dillon McCarty for Incluvie