Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, or more simply Hobbs & Shaw, is the ninth film in the Fast & Furious franchise, and the first true spinoff. Featuring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprising their titular roles as super-cop Luke Hobbs and very-evil bad guy turned slightly-less-evil bad guy, Deckard Shaw. The pair are teaming up to find an even badder bad guy, in this case brought to life by Idris Elba.
I’m sure a lot of you are peeing your pants in excitement having just witnessed this mishmash, but I’ve been disenchanted with the formerly grounded in reality racing series since film five, or so, and this trailer is doing little to help that.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s do it with all due care and consideration owed to a film series that’s the pinnacle of Hollywood filmmaking and box office grosses:
The Rock and Jason Statham. These dudes rule and enhance basically anything they’re in. The action sequences look great. Cool cars. Girls in bikinis. Idris Elba. Clever dialogue. Dudes running down the side of a building!
The Rock and Jason Statham are the only series regulars to make an appearance. Can it be TF&TF without Diesel? These dudes can enhance doo-doo, but even enhanced doo-doo still stinks. The action sequences are less believable than ever. Where’s the NOS? What type of clothes are those really? What is with his outfit? Bad guy monologues. What the fuck just--are you kidding me--they’re running down the side of a building now? And Hobbs can fly?!
THE BAD BAD
Personally, I got lost when Idris Elba started talking about the next step in human evolution and being bulletproof--you know, when he punched dents into solid steel. Is this TF&TF’s attempt to create their own superhero universe? Is this the next DCEU (meaning the worst superhero universe)? Can’t the Rock and Statham just teacup, kick asses, be aggressively hilarious to each other and pound some brews?
This is basically the first test vehicle for the franchise since Tokyo Drift. Now, despite also missing its original stars, it upped the star power of the replacements, and these guys have been in the series for a number of movies now--so they’re established, and established box office draw. Yet, it’s still a divergent, a presumably one of a number of planned spinoffs--as the dudes at The Ringer’s The Rewatchables recently posited, this franchise could go on forever. Why not lock it down with your two bankable stars (or three, if we count Elba), and go hard with the jokes and jabs, and the conflicted buddy comedy while letting them both beat the hell out of truckloads of dudes. Both the Rock and do-my-own-stunts Statham have well established punch-your-face filmographies, and they’re great in those roles.
Embrace your actors, embrace their talents and embrace the charisma clash. Attempting to make the stunts even bigger than those in the your main series, stunts which are already as big as they can be, loses focus and potentially loses audience attention. Give us something slightly outside what we’ve come to expect from the franchise and make this it’s own blend of octane.