Mel Valentin
5 min readAug 6, 2019

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ Delivers Rock’Em, Sock’Em Action

Johnson and Statham in all of their bald glory.

Say what you will about the ills of late-stage capitalism or the perils of remix culture, but at least mainstream moviegoers can’t complain about a lack of escapist, entertainment options while the world slides towards environmental catastrophe (roughly anywhere from 18 months to 30 years, depending on the source). Those escapist, entertainment options include, among others (see, e.g., the MCU), the long-running Fast & Furious franchise. A series that began as a derivative, disposable Point Break rip-off in 2001 unexpectedly metastasized into a sprawling, globe-trotting, global phenomenon over eight film and two decades, with at least two or three new entries on the horizon. Buoyed by a multi-racial, multi-ethnic cast, charismatic leads, ever-inventive vehicular- and performer-centered stunts, and the concept of family as a central theme, it’s not surprising moviegoers and critics alike have embraced the Fast & Furious franchise.

After a prologue introducing Deckard Shaw’s (Jason Statham) younger sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent leading a raid to recover a super-virus that goes predictably sideways, Hobbs & Shaw switches gears — figuratively and literally — to focus on the title characters, Lucas “Luke” Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a perpetually sweaty, massive man-mountain and Domestic Security Service (DSS) agent, and Shaw, a disgraced MI6-turned-Han-killer on a by-the-numbers journey of redemption (in the Fast & Furious series, villains rarely stay just villains), as they go up about their business of terrorizing law-breakers and beating interchangeable henchmen into bloodless submission. Stepping into the camera for the first time in the series, stunt-choreographer-turned-director David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool: No Good Deed, John Wick) shoots and edits Hobbs and Shaw’s introduction in split-screen, with Hobbs getting warm, summer colors and Shaw getting cool, autumn ones. That marked contrast in styles plays out repeatedly over Hobbs & Shaw’s overlong, modestly bloated, two-hour-and-fifteen-minute running time: Hobbs’ bone-crunching, sinew-snapping brute force vs. Shaw’s fiber-optic speed and silk-smooth finesse.