Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, a rare two-ampersand film, gives two of the supporting tough guys from the eight Fast & Furious movies their own blithe spinoff that keeps with the franchise’s aesthetic by disregarding the laws of physics and ultimately declaring itself to be about “family.” I feel like the returns are diminishing here, but I’ve felt that way since about the third Fast & Furious, and the series has only gotten more popular, so perhaps I’m not a bellwether.
Directed by David Leitch (half of the original John Wick team) from a screenplay by series regular Chris Morgan, this one dips its toe into science-fiction waters, probably to set the stage for the Fast & Furious gang to go to outer space someday. Here, the CIA recruits bounty hunter and government agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and British special forces assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to work together — even though they ostensibly hate each other — to stop a deadly virus from falling into the hands of one Brixton (Idris Elba), who is not, contrary to what his name implies, a white kid from Idaho but a semi-bionic bad guy in a bulletproof rubber suit. His organization, the all-knowing, all-controlling biotech company Eteon, wants to help humans “evolve” through cybernetic enhancements, but first it wants to use the virus to thin the herd. That may sound like genocide, but Brixton has a rebuttal to that: “Genocide, shmenocide.” Classic Brixton!
The virus is currently in the veins of rogue MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), Deckard’s sister, who injected it for safekeeping and has 72 hours to get it out before it does its thing. There are a few ticking clocks in the film, none heeded with anything approaching chronological realism. At one point the plot requires everyone to go from Moscow to Samoa, a distance of 9,100 miles that would take 12 hours (plus 10 more for the time difference) if you flew at Mach 1 the whole way but which they accomplish in, like, an afternoon. Very little of the film makes sense under scrutiny, including the choice to explain Brixton’s indestructibility by saying he’s cybernetic when Hobbs and Shaw are just as un-killable and impervious to pain without explanation. I mean, that’s just how guys ARE in these movies. You don’t need the tech mumbo-jumbo.
Shaw used to be a bad guy (a relative term in a series about car thieves), but all is forgiven now, I guess, and he and Hobbs squabble amusingly. There are several well-choreographed fights, a delirious chase down the side of a skyscraper, and a motorcycle straight from the Batcave. The action is fun, but everything in between, especially Hobbs’ tacked-on family issues, is tedious, and the whole thing overstays its welcome by a good 30 minutes. Like I said, it’s a Fast & Furious movie.