The Fast and Furious movies have always been mildly enjoyable popcorn fare, but crumble under the weight of their sheer inanity. That a group highly-functional criminals would continually get called in to save the world by racing their cars is a tough burden to bear and it makes the not remotely possible stunts almost forgivable in comparison. Yet, with Hobbs and Shaw, a not at all stray from the formula, the franchise might have its best installment based on the sheer charisma and chemistry of its stars, and a plot, while still completely ridiculous, actually makes sense in context.
Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their F&F roles as the titular characters and frenemies who are shoved together to track down an evil supervillain, Brixton (Idris Elba, having more fun than any of his Marvel movie appearances), who is mixed up with Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby, easily sliding into action hero mode). The plot is still silly and just an excuse to get Johnson and Statham to flex, fight, and trade barbs, and the action sequences have cut out the middleman and moved right into superhero fantasy, but there’s no morose treatises on family trying to pretend the movie is about anything more than what it is: a fun action flick. This still holds true even as the film delves into the family history of each of its heroes, with Helen Mirren returning as Shaw’s mom and the plot necessitating a visit to Hobbs estranged kin in Samoa. Though suggesting Kirby and Statham are about the same age (given the flashbacks of their childhood) is the most unbelievable thing the franchise has ever suggested, even more so than the Rock pulling down a helicopter with his biceps.
Deadpool 2 and John Wick director David Leitch knows his way around a fighting sequence and keeps the action continually moving. With the focus on fewer characters than the usual furious entourage, the characters have a little more room to breathe. There’s also a pointed and welcome tonal shift that is more lighthearted, leaning into the inherent comedy of the films. So, yeah, being one of the best Furious films is a lot like winning a perfect attendance trophy, low bar for success. Still, whatever works.
My Grade – C+