Updated: Mar 30, 2020
By Derek May:
YIN: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
You’d think after eight movies of crashing cars, busting heads, and extolling the virtues of the chosen family that the Fast and Furious franchise would be starting to run out of gas. Instead, they’re revving up for a ninth installment, and with Hobbs & Shaw have just released their first spin-off. At this point, I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing many a ham-fisted car wreck for years to come. So is Hobbs & Shaw merely a flaccid attempt to cash in or a legitimate new adventure featuring one of the best odd couples in action today?
My vote is definitely for the latter, as Hobbs & Shaw stays true to the classic formula while freeing itself for even more riotous humor, offbeat comradery, and a deeper exploration of some of those tantalizing story and character breadcrumbs previously laid.
We were first introduced to Dwayne Johnson’s DDS Agent Luke Hobbs way back in 2011’s Fast Five, where he was tasked with hunting down Dom’s motley crew—which naturally resulted in establishing a bond of respect between the muscle-bound giants (at least onscreen). In subsequent entries, Hobbs became a full-fledged member of the team, eventually supporting them when Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw arrived (in Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7) to exact revenge for his defeated brother, Owen (Luke Evans).
With me so far?
I know it’s a lot to track, but the important bit is that enemies Hobbs and Shaw were forced to work together for the eighth film, The Fate of the Furious, and their testosterone-fueled banter got the attention of both audiences and producers alike, enough that talk of spinning off the duo started before Fate even premiered.
Thankfully though, the creators weren’t interested in a slap-dash money-grabber but wanted to really dig in and take full advantage of these characters. The theme of the franchise has always been family, and this continues here with soulful consideration. We’d already been introduced to Hobbs’ daughter, Sam, but we hadn’t heard much about his extended family. Here, we have the breadth to explore his tense estrangement while showcasing Johnson’s Samoan background in the process. While it may add an extra thirty minutes to the film beyond what it might truly need, it’s certainly raucous fun and does indeed provide the necessary platform to heal some of Hobbs’ familial wounds and give the character a grounded, human arc in and amongst the inhuman level of popcorn action.
On the other side, we’re introduced to the fourth member of the Shaw clan after Owen, Deckard, and mother Queenie (played with giddy joy by Dame Helen Mirren herself). Mission: Impossible—Fallout star Vanessa Kirby joins as Hattie, Deckard and Owen’s sister and deadly proficient MI6 agent. Her character not only sets off the plot but ends up tying the two bulls together to form a deadly and endearing trio. But let’s be clear, Kirby is no one’s damsel in distress and proves herself more than capable under just about any circumstance. Just because she doesn’t need saving doesn’t mean she doesn’t need help, and so the group is given a far more equitable footing than in the early entries of the franchise when women were little mo