As a general rule, the further the Fast and the Furious movies get away from the whole car racing angle, the better they usually are. Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw puts that rule to the test as several junctures, but it remains a fun, popcorn-friendly, braindead summer movie throughout.
Hobbs (The Rock) and Shaw (Jason Statham) are paired together to stop a superhuman, scientifically-upgraded villain (Idris Elba) from stealing a lethal virus that could potentially wipe out the entire planet. Shaw’s spy sister (Vanessa Kirby) winds up injecting herself with the virus in order to keep his mitts off the deadly superbug. It’s then up to the two mismatched musclebound macho men to put their differences aside and save the world.
This is technically a spin-off to the main franchise, so it plays a lot looser and fast (and furiouser) with the laws of reality than the other movies (which is really saying something). I’m all for outlandish foolishness in these films, but even I was rolling my eyes at some of this nonsense. At some point, the flick just settles into a routine of Elba trying to catch The Rock and Statham, only to have them slip out of his fingers because of one highly improbable shenanigan or the other. Since our heroes never get hurt or are in any real danger of death, it winds up feeling like a Road Runner cartoon after a while with Elba playing the constantly stymied Coyote whose elaborate plans are perpetually foiled.
Director David (Deadpool 2) Leitch does a fine job with the action and keeps the chases, fight scenes, and ludicrous set pieces coming at a pace that is… well… fast and furious. Too bad that much of it feels like you’re watching a video game. Not to mention the fact that the “plot” stuff mostly consists of exposition dumps that could’ve come out of a video game’s cut scenes.
Despite that, the stars are in fine form. Even when the action gets repetitive and the film… ahem… spins its wheels, it remains breezy fun, especially when they’re busting each other’s balls (which is quite often). The gratuitous “guest star” cameos provide a few laughs, but make the movie feel more Cannonball Run than Smokey and the Bandit. That’s not exactly a bad thing. I guess it all just depends on what you want out of your Fast and Furious flick. If you want mindless mayhem, Hobbs and Shaw delivers.