FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (2019) is a dumb and fun spinoff, as expected

After eight films and 18 years, the Fast & Furious franchise has received its first spinoff in the form of Hobbs & Shaw.

The film follows familiar faces; Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who form an unlikely team in order to stop a cyber-genetically enhanced villain, known as Brixton (Idris Elba), from securing a deadly virus. Being a spinoff, you won’t find the rest of the ‘Fast family’ showing up in here.

If the plot alone doesn’t grab you, that’s because it’s not meant to. It’s a very thinly written plot you’ve no doubt seen before as there’s almost nothing remotely original about it. But as we’ve seen with some of the other Fast & Furious films, a strong and riveting story is not necessarily what people pay to see in these films. It’s the silly, dumb, over-the-top nature of the story, characters, fights, and races that gets people into theatres. This film delivers on all of these fronts to an extent.

The pacing of the story has its ups and downs, particularly in the first half. It kicks off pretty rocky and doesn’t really find its footing until about half way through. It has sequences where it speeds things up before taking a breather for some comedic scenes and story setup. The moments where it slows down really pump the brakes and make the runtime feel longer than it already is. Beyond the half-way point, it’s smooth sailing through to the end. The story continues to build and get more and more ridiculous with time, which meant that I enjoyed it more and more as it upped the silliness.

The action may not be as large-scale as what is found in the main franchise films, however, it’s all entertaining. Whether it’s an over-the-top fist fight or a high-speed city chase sequence this film delivers. The last act especially goes full insanity with its ridiculous action and it’s just incredible. The action is great throughout, but that final act is fun, hilarious, and above all else, thoroughly entertaining. It absolutely makes up for the first half’s struggles.

The music accompanying the action scenes I can’t say the same for. There are a number of scenes in here where the music playing is distracting and doesn’t fit with what’s happening on screen. The action is shared around through, not only do Johnson, Statham, and Elba get their fair share of ass-kicking moments, but Vanessa Kirby also capably contributes to the action. She doesn’t have a whole lot to do other than being an integral part of the main plot, but she’s a good character.

But, what is the reason for this story as the spinoff over all other possibilities? It’s absolutely due to the chemistry between Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson which is evident through most of every scene in here. These polar opposites clash throughout and it makes way for some great conflict through insults and the two of them constantly messing with each other. On the other side of the spectrum, Idris Elba plays a formidable villain who doesn’t have a whole lot of depth to him. Physically, he’s a good opponent and Elba is just fantastic when it comes to playing villainous roles on screen.

There are a couple of big-name supporting roles used for comedic relief at various points in the story and, if anything, they take you out of the film. They’re mildly funny moments that I could have done without. Overall, performances are good, about as good as you can expect in a Fast & Furious film.

In the end, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a good spinoff with the ridiculous action you expect, but still makes me miss the main franchise entries. It feels like a Fast & Furious film in terms of the tone; story; and of course; the central theme of family, but without the whole crew present there’s something missing. The pacing issues and dragging in the first half hold it back and if I’m being really picky, the time of day changes drastically a few times in the final act and is very noticeable. Its first half is a messy ride, but Hobbs & Shaw is entertaining enough to be enjoyed.

6.4/10

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