The Fast and Furious franchise has come a long way from its Point Break roots, transforming itself into a globe-trotting adventure series. The films have progressively gotten more enjoyable. Fast Five is still the creme de la creme, but also more ridiculous. Hobbs & Shaw, Universal's spin-off starring Dwayne Johnson's Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw, is undeniably the craziest of the bunch, replete with cyber-genetically enhanced super soldiers, God-like feats of strength, and bizarre family reunions.
The plot of the film is about as cookie-cutter as it gets. To be honest, it's virtually non-existent. The quest to save Shaw's sister from a virus while fending off the villain who wants to use it to eradicate humanity is nothing more than a wonky thread tying all the action sequences together. David Leitch shoots the fights and chases with style, but there are so many of them that it does feel repetitive. That said, seeing cars interlock by touching bumpers and The Rock holding onto a helicopter as if it were a kite is just surreal enough to keep you wondering what could happen next. I used to say it jokingly, but Fast & Furious is well on its way to making their Moonraker.
The cast is the best thing about Hobbs & Shaw. Idris Elba is tremendous as the metal-spined "Black Superman." He, like everyone else, is very aware of the intended tone and plays up the madness. Vanessa Kirby holds her own next to Statham and Johnson, carrying all of the films emotional weight. She has superstar potential. The two leads are a perfect contrast and those differences are played for big laughs. There were also a lot of references to their real-life personas, which I'd usually roll my eyes at, but felt appropriate here. Maybe it was because of all the creative control they had, of which you can see in the finished product. Nevertheless, I could have listened to them trade barbs all day long. The entire movie is quite funny, intentional or not.
One of the biggest issues with the film is that it feels thrown together. It's as if they had a lot of ideas but didn't know how to properly incorporate them. For example, the entire third act in Samoa was not necessary. There is a showdown in Ukraine that closes the second act that with a few minor adjustments could have been the ending. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing chop-shop mechanics fix state of the art medical equipment with mufflers as much as the next guy, but the whole excursion didn't relate to anything that had been set up in the beginning. It was a nearly hour-long Heritage Minute that did nothing but bloat an already lengthy runtime.
Is Hobbs & Shaw deeply flawed? Yes. Does it repeatedly show no understanding of how time passes? Absolutely. Did I enjoy it? More than I ever expected. This is a live-action cartoon with the sensibilities of your favorite cheesy 80's action flicks. It's witty buddy-cop banter, unrelenting amounts of slow-motion, and a ton of explosions. It's stupid but in the best way possible.