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Movie Review: Hobbes & Shaw

Summer heats up with Hobbes & Shaw. Image used from

The Fast and the Furious franchise has surely had one of the most interesting and strangest histories I’ve ever seen. Initially, it was a story about an FBI agent trying to stop, and eventually befriending, simple criminals who loved street racing and stealing DVD players. It then eventually exploded into one of the biggest and most profitable action film franchises in film history. The characters have taken on organized crime, international terrorists, organizations hellbent on nuclear war and a whole array of baddies all while defying physics and death itself. Not bad for simple punks who used to steal a few hundred dollars in electronics. Now with the franchise close to it’s end the studio decided to give their two most popular characters, Luke Hobbes and Deckard Shaw, their own spin off film to keep this cash cow going. Will it work out or is the franchise finally out of gas?

The story for Hobbes & Shaw is rather light on story and heavy on the insane and the absurd, so essentially everything we expect from a Fast & Furious film. The story follows Hobbes and Shaw who find themselves forced to work together after Shaw’s sister Hattie implants a time sensitive, world ending virus into herself to protect it from cyborg villain Brixton. What follows is the same simple formula we’ve come to know: The characters globe trot from one location to another to get whatever MacGuffin they need to save the day all while fighting the bad guys. Normally this would be a huge problem however this is a film that’s driven more by its action and characters rather then story and for what it’s worth what we do get, though while not strong, manages to get the job done. There’s also the fact that new and interesting ideas have been added to the world such as Brixton’s cybernetics, which opens up many possibliites for new villains and set pieces, and the organization that he works for being a new and mysterious threat. The use of humor is also well used as it works to the strength of it’s lead actors and made for many excellent and quotable moments though unfortunately there is the occasional joke that lands with a thud. Even though most of the story is sheer madness and the odd couple scenario between the two leads somehow the whole thing manages to go on far longer then it needed to and during the third act it felt like it dragged just a bit. The story, and the film in a whole, would have benefited if at least fifteen minutes was trimmed from it.

The characters for Hobbes & Shaw are very strong

Our two main leads, Luke Hobbes and Deckard Shaw, are both great characters. Each is unique in his own way.  Hobbes is still a good character who gets some much needed development in the form of his family and his history with them. It isn’t a lot but it’s enough for a character who hasn’t grown much in nearly a decade.

Deckard Shaw is a whole other story. Don’t get me wrong Shaw is also a good character and I am thrilled that he’s grown from villain to hero. Heck I love a good redemption story the problem though is that Shaw’s redemption isn’t done well. Keep in mind this is a man who in the span of a movie and a half killed dozens of federal agents, murdered one of the main characters in cold blood and tried time and again to kill the others. However in the previous film his background was revamped to make him tragic and sympathetic and was hastily forgiven after helping save the world. That problem bleeds into this film as well as new information once again makes him out to have a tragic backstory, that his road to perdition was paved with lies. The film lightly touches upon the evil he does with him saying he has to make amends but it’s short and not much comes form it. Yes, Shaw is a good character, Yes I am over the moon that he’s one of the good guys now but his redemption was too fast and sloppy. While his redemption was done poorly Shaw’s character is still good with his want to save his sister and the way he and Hobbes play off of one another, coming off as a very effective old school comedy duo.

Hattie Shaw is a fine character. Her primary purpose is to get the story going what with her having to infect herself with the virus and being the driving force to bring Hobbes and Shaw together but she is still a useful character and her use never ceases. Her relationship with Deckard is nice and done very well, what can I say I’m a sucker for brother and sister teams and it is nice to see the Shaw family grow.

Brixton really is a first for the Fast and Furious franchise. In a series plagued by bland, forgettable and down right abysmal villains Brixton is the first to actually be a pretty good villain. He’s incredibly imposing with his cybernetics giving him an immeasurable edge over our heroes and giving them a true challenge to over come. It isn’t just brute force that makes him so challenging but rather him and his organization’s ability to twist the truth into whatever they want making innocent men guilty and setting the whole word against them. He also has a history with Shaw which does add a nice bit of depth to his character.

Acting for Hobbes & Shaw is fantastic

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham both do wonderfully as the titular characters. Both are incredibly engaging and very funny, the two having excellent chemistry throughout. Even in the scenes that drag on longer then they have to are made entertaining by the two’s banter. 

Vanessa Kirby does well as Hattie Shaw. Kirby is believable in the role and comes off as a very good action star. She works very well with both Statham and Johnson and because of her the film has some moments where thing calm down and allow for more serious moments in the film which are not only effective but are welcomed. Sometimes a little order in a storm of chaos is needed.

Idris Elba makes a great villain in the role of Brixton. Intimidating yet enjoyable, cold yet snarky, every single moment is dripping with villainy and it’s clear he’s loving every single second of it. Elba revels in his character and his energy matches that of both Johnson and Statham making him a perfect adversary to the two.

Helen Mirren returns, briefly unfortunately, as the Shaws’ mother Queenie. Like last time it’s a small role but also like last time it’s a fun and thoroughly enjoyable and memorable performance that only makes me want to see more of her in the future.

Lastly the action for Hobbes & Shaw is very entertaining.

Director David Leitch once again brings his years of experience in stunt work choreography to craft some of the craziest, over the top action sequences you’ll see all year. The fight scenes are well choreographed and lend to both Johnson and Statham’s fighting styles making both look different and allowing each to shine in his own right. The action is highly stylized and the set pieces are wonderfully over the top with the insane and physics defying action and destruction we’ve come to know and love from this series. There’s action galore in this film with each scene lasting as long as it needs to while pacing itself just right in between so as the film doesn’t become boring and overstuffed. While these are the best action scenes I’ve seen since John Wick 3 I am bit disappointed in Leitch. Unlike his previous films the editing and cinematography are rather wonky with quite a bit of shaky came and slight quick cuts here and there. Thankfully it isn’t bad since I could still make out what was going on and it doesn’t happen too often, in fact a lot of the time the editing and cinematography are rather smooth, but I believed Letich to be above such tactics, though it’s probably unfair to lay it solely at his feet. Overall though the action is still fun, stylized and wonderfully over the top.

Final Thoughts: Hobbes & Shaw, while having some minor dings, is everything I wanted and a little bit more. We get two great action leads working incredibly well with one another with each having his own moment to shine in action and humor. The characters are good, the action is silly and entertaining and overall it really is the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a rather long time. If you need simple, dumb fun this summer then I can’t think of a better way to spend a lazy afternoon then with Hobbes & Shaw.
Verdict: 4/5

About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I've loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor's in Journalism and I have Asperger's Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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