Stuck between a Rock and a hard cockney geezer (Hobbs and Shaw)

The ninth film in the Fast and Furious franchise, ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ is the first spin off from the original series and stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Taking the action, jokes and thrills into another gear, it delivers everything you could ever want from a big summer blockbuster.

If you’ve seen the final act of Mission: Impossible II, then you’ve seen the entire plot for Hobbs and Shaw. After injecting herself with a deadly virus to help contain it, MI6 agent Hattie Shaw will join up with her brother (Deckard Shaw) and his rival (Luke Hobbs) in order to extract it before the rogue agent Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) can get it first. It sounds complicated but honestly the core plot could take 20 minutes and be over. Extra narrative tangents, character relationships extend the plot out slightly, but what makes this movie reach the 2hr+ runtime is the truckload of banter between Johnson and Statham, and the insane amount of action set pieces.

Reprising their already established roles from the series, Johnson and Statham ooze charisma and are one of the funniest ‘anti-double acts’ I’ve seen in a while. Their scenes together, where they either showboat or insult each other, are endlessly enjoyable. Naturally, they are also fantastic action performers, with Johnson bringing brute strength and Statham adding a cockney class to the fights. Vanessa Kirby is totally badass as Hattie Shaw, in a role that is refreshingly positive towards female empowerment in this franchise, though there is still a long way to go. Idris Elba equally makes a compelling villain who is believably tough in the fights with the two leads (granted, his character is aided by cyber-genetics that enhance his physical abilities).

The action in the film is totally bonkers. What was once a series about illegal street car racing has now escalated to an insane level of action filmmaking. David Leich (John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2) directs this with similar over-the-top gusto, and it makes for such a pleasurable viewing. He gets when action needs to be ridiculous or realistic, funny or serious and manages to strike all the tones perfectly. From fist fights to jumping out of windows, motorbike chases through exploding power plants to attaching cars to helicopters, this film brings it all and never tires until the credits role. Action fatigue is definitely felt, but it’s in the best possible way.

Strangely, for all the insane action, that isn’t actually the most ridiculous part of the film. The most ridiculous part is the fact that Jason Statham and Vanessa Kirby play siblings that grew up together….

Jason Statham (52) and Vanessa Kirby (31) grew up together…

There are actual scenes of the two as children which feel so jarring because it’s simply not possible. This staggering age gap was acceptable purely because this franchise never has relied on logic, but it felt very odd and slightly too far-fetched.

Despite some flaws in the plot and some ridiculous age falsifying, Hobbs and Shaw is still a remarkably enjoyable film. Throw in a great visual style and cameos from some of Hollywood’s funniest A-Listers and you have a summer blockbuster for the ages, delivering laughs, action, heart and a hell of a lot of fuel.

5 stars 4

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