“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (Rated C)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby
This is why Tyrese was so worried!
You’ve probably heard about “the beef” between the actor/R&B singer and his “Fast & Furious” co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
If not, here are the CliffsNotes: about two years ago Tyrese Gibson took to social media to…umm…complain about plans for a spin-off to the ridiculously popular and apparently unceasing “Fast & Furious” film franchise (dating back now to 2001 with eight movies in total). Gibson was reportedly upset that this new addition, starring Johnson along with fellow cast member Jason Statham, would push back by at least one year the ninth installment in the series, “Faster and Furiouser” (that’s a joke! – it’s apparently called “Fast & Furious 9” [yawn!]).
Well, not surprisingly, and just like his comic-relief character in these films, nobody’s really paying any attention to Tyrese. And thus, Johnson and Statham’s “Hobbs & Shaw” is in theaters, and has ruled the box office for the past two weekends. And I’m sure, much to Tyrese’s chagrin, it’s one helluva wild and crazy thrill ride!
Don’t get me wrong! “Hobbs & Shaw” is insane! It is unrealistic! And it’s quite preposterous! But it is the funniest action movie this summer. And the outrageousness of its action sequences helps make this the quintessential summer movie – goofy, exciting and fun!
Ever since they first faced off in 2015’s “Furious 7”, hulking lawman Hobbs (Johnson), a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (Statham), a former British military elite operative, the duo has swapped smack talk and body blows as they’ve tried to take each other down.
But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever — and bests a brilliant and fearless rogue MI6 agent (Vanessa Kirby from Netflix’s “The Crown”), who just happens to be Shaw’s sister — these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves.
And you’re right, that does indeed sound like a plot to something out of the Marvel or DC Film studios. But would you really expect anything different from this franchise? The series has had very little interaction with reality since early in the 2000s. It’s pretty much all fantasy now. In fact, it might as well be animated.
The franchise has always been uneven, with exuberant highs and spectacular lows. The most recent edition, “The Fate of the Furious”, being among the best of the series, and miles better than the utter garbage that was “Furious 7”.
“Hobbs & Shaw”, however, make a good case for being the best thing that’s ever been attached to a “Fast & Furious” project. It doesn’t feel very much like the rest of the films, which may be a good thing. It’s more of a typical “we-can’t-work-together buddy comedy”, and it certainly breaks no new ground there.
But it is undeniably charming. The continuous flow of insults back-and-forth between Hobbs and Shaw is hilarious, and Johnson and Statham, who’ve both proven themselves in quite a number of recent films to be as adept at comedy as they are at action, are in fine form here. They probably should have had even more one-on-one screen time.
That would have been a challenge, though, because of the rest of the stellar cast. Unlike the parent series, “Hobbs & Shaw” isn’t populated with barely-known or completely unknown actors in the supporting roles. Instead, we get treated to some amazing A-listers.
In addition to Emmy nominee Kirby, better known as Princess Margaret, we get more British acting royalty; Emmy nominee Elba as the fantastic bad guy – who would have been very much a cartoon character in any other actor’s less capable hands. And Oscar-winner Helen Mirren is back as Shaw’s irrepressible and criminally-minded mom.
There are other amazing cameos. Kevin Hart – who seems to pop up any and everywhere Johnson is these days – makes a fun appearance.
Best of all though, and possibly the most enjoyable part of the whole picture: Ryan Reynolds. If you didn’t already think so after watching “Deadpool”, here’s more proof that Reynolds has to be one of the funniest men alive. He completely steals all his scenes. If there are plans to do more spinoffs, someone has to make sure Reynolds’ character gets his.
Be sure to stick around after the first sets of credits to see more of Reynolds, and some hints at what we might expect from what could possibly be another “Hobbs & Shaw” installment. It may actually be worth waiting for!
And for the next one, the producers should feel comfortable and confident enough to lose that “Fast & Furious presents” security blanket from the title.
Perhaps that might help poor old wet blanket Tyrese sleep better at night.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email email@example.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.