Hobbs & Shaw is a huge amount of fun, as long as you're willing to forget realism is a thing that exists
JOE's review of the first Fast & Furious spin-off is here.
The Fast & The Furi-verse has always had something of a Nod-Hello-As-You're-Passing relationship with reality.
That endless runway from Six, that nobody-was-injured bus-flip from Four, that bridge divider jump also from Six, that rocket-launcher car-jump from Seven, the zombie-AI-car chase from Eight... we didn't come to this series to be tied down by something as basic as gravity.
No, this was about family, and product placement, and car porn, and increasingly unbelievable stunts, and you were either on board (like us) or you weren't.
So when we say that Hobbs & Shaw is the most reality-crushing entry in the franchise to date, we don't say that lightly. And again, you'll either stay on for the ride (like us) or you won't.
After their combustible on-screen chemistry fueled the best scenes in Fast & Furious 8, American agent Hobbs (Johnson) and British agent Shaw (Statham) left things on tense but amicable terms, both seemingly happy enough to never see or hear from each other again.
However, a new threat in the form of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) has arrived, a self-titled 'Black Superman', assisted by biotechnology that makes him super strong and real tasty in a fight, and backed by a faceless corporation that has Sequel Bait written all over it.
Also in the mix is Hattie (Kirby), Shaw's estranged sister, who goes full Thandie Newton in M:I-2 and injects herself with a deadly virus that could wipe out most of the planet's population. Brixton wants that virus for nefarious purposes, Shaw wants his sister to live, and Hobbs wants the virus back in safe hands, which kicks off a global chase, with plenty of vicious fights, explosive car-chases, and scene-stealing supporting characters that we know and love the Furious franchise for.
Director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) obviously knows his way around a close-up fight scene, and gives his four leads plenty of opportunity to kick-ass, and for the most part, does a pretty great job when the scope of the action blows up, too.
The trailer did, unfortunately, give away a lot of major action beats, but Leitch does a great job of keeping the geography of the action nice and clean, matching brute power and lithe surgical strikes to Johnson and Statham, respectively. Elba does a good job of playing a villain who could believably go toe-to-toe(-to-toe) with our two heroes, and Kirby is given more than a few killer scenes, too.
However, in a world of Tom Cruise tying himself to the outside of planes as they take off, audiences have become savvy to what is and isn't real, and for better or worse, it does feel like the Furi-verse is leaning heavier and heavier on CGI.
It goes hand-in-hand with the stronger sci-fi edge that Hobbs & Shaw is leaning into, what with Brixton's mechano-spine and self-driving super-bike. It is a jump that fans of the series will need to make on their own, or it may be the hurdle that fans of the series just can't make.
Remember, this all began about a group drag races involved in stolen DVD-players, so we've definitely come a long way.
Aside from that, there are still a fair few surprises along the way (most of which go a long way towards setting up Hobbs & Shaw their own series of movies), and it is never not funny to watch Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham take part in prolonged slagging matches.
It is blatantly obvious why these two got their own movie, but does leave it less clear how the main Fast & Furious movies can continue (apparently) without them. We'll know for sure when Furious 9 arrives in May 2020.
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is in Irish cinemas from Thursday 1 August.
Clip via Fast & Furious