Film Review: ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’: Bad Guys Versus Bald Guys

By Mark Jackson, Epoch Times
August 6, 2019 Updated: August 12, 2019

PG-13 | | Action, Adventure | 2 August 2019 (USA)

Baldness is apparently the result of testosterone overabundance. Which is why four hulking, behind-kicking, bald, bad boys (Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, and Tyrese Gibson) proved to be too much baldness and ego for one franchise (“Fast & Furious”) to handle.

The franchise was split neatly in half, so everyone could remain alive. Then again, maybe the alleged bad blood on previous bald-bad-boy movie sets was just controversy and buplicity. I mean publicity.

Two action stars in suits
Dwayne Johnson (L) and Jason Statham at an event for “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” (Universal Pictures)

Whatever. Johnson and Statham jumped cars, er, ship, and the result is “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” and it’s pretty good! Of course, it’s pretty much just more of the same, but the same means good—if you like car carnage—because the Furious-verse now boasts eight of these ridiculous blockbusters. (That’s nearly 20 years’ worth.)

Well, OK, it’s the same yet different. “Hobbs & Shaw” is missing the sexy American muscle-car porn. (It does have Statham’s European, classy, high-performance McLaren, along with Johnson’s Harley-Davidson.) It does have muscle trucks.

It’s also missing the endless supply of Brazilian-girls-in-thong-bikinis soft porn. Many men (and boys) will miss that, even though Harvard studies say it’s not good for them.

man on Harley and man on fast car
Dwayne Johnson (L) and Jason Statham in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” (Universal Pictures)

“Hobbs & Shaw” keeps the third “F” of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, which has long been known to be “family,” but now family becomes Dwayne Johnson’s giant, fictitious Samoan family.

5 large Samoans with tats
Cliff Curtis (2nd L), Dwayne Johnson (C), and Joe Anoa’i (2nd R) in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.”(Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures)

What Goes On

He of (now widely known) Samoan heritage, Dwayne Johnson, is that self-same, self-described, “brown, tattooed … mountain of a man,” Defense Security Service agent Hobbs, he’s always been.

Jason Statham plays Deckard Shaw, the British driving-specialist mercenary he was in his other franchise, before it synced up with the F&F. That introduction of Shaw to F&F was one of the highlights of the franchise, causing great, whooping elation in theaters around the world, so beloved was his bald, British cheekiness, and outstanding behind-kickingness.

Vanessa Kirby plays Shaw’s sister, M16 agent Hattie Shaw. Idris Elba plays the bad guy Brixton, who’s a techno-enhanced, super-soldier/agent for an underground military organization called Eteon.

sister and brother in Hobbs and Shaw
Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are siblings fighting an archvillain. (Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures)

Well, Shaw was originally a very bad guy, a killer in the previous car movie franchise, and the whole family is pretty much con-artist-y. Helen Mirren plays their mother and she’s in jail, but she breaks out of jail when the feuding siblings reunite. Hattie is on the good-guy side.

What does Eteon do? In Bond-villain-like fashion, it’s intent on world domination via the spreading of a deadly virus. But whoa! Hattie absconds with this virus. And to save humanity, she injects herself with all the biohazardous evil while in the back of a fleeing enemy truck—and then she jumps off the truck! Now, there’s only days left before she becomes toxic and deadly! Aaaaannd scene.

Oh wait, no, there’s more: Brixton is after them, of course, so there are car chases, motorcycles chases, and stuff! There’s even a car chase in an armored, dune-buggy-looking contraption in a defunct nuclear power plant right after a neutron bomb blows up! And what else?! Well, you’ve seen the trailer—Statham deftly drifts the McLaren underneath an 18-wheeler. (Driving hot cars under trucks is an F&F staple.) And he does this two times!

two men with axes
Dwayne Johnson (L), Jason Statham, and a muscle truck in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” (Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures)

Lastly, there’s a finale involving indigenous Samoan weaponry (various ornate staffs and clubs) versus hi-tech firearms! How does that work?! Well! I’m not going to tell you that. You’ll have to see for yourself, because it’s all very ingenious. It involves hi-tech gone wrong.

a crowd of angry Samoans
Dwayne Johnson (C) and many irate Samoans star in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” (Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures)

And one more thing—there’s a tug of war between a Black Hawk helicopter and a series of linked-together muscle trucks! I strongly suspect it’s inferred that Samoan men are simply too mountain-like of stature to tinker with the tiny muscle cars that Vin Diesel likes to drive, in the other bald-headed series. So that’s what goes on.

two men looking at a helicopter
Jason Statham (L) and Dwayne Johnson contemplate a snagged chopper in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” (Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures)

How’s the Acting?

What?! Shut up. Acting! Pffft. Actually, the Hobbs-Shaw relationship may constitute the most high-speed ping-pong game of an alpha-male insult fest ever to scorch the big screen. It’s nonstop. It requires great cardio, with each volley consisting of full-on verbal smashes; each smash is returned without missing a beat. This actually takes acting ability, and Johnson gets incrementally funnier with each film he does.

two men with guns
Dwayne Johnson (L) (would you look at the size of that Johnson arm?) and Jason Statham in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” (Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures)

Acting-wise, Idris Elba cannot be bad, even when given an empty villain to play. And, as mentioned, while the third F in F&F that stands for “family” is here represented by a giant pack of Samoans, the whole thing, while strong in tribal tats, beards, and primitive weaponry, is a bit family-lite.

man in black leather and fast cars
Idris Elba as a sort of black Robocop in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.”(Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures)

It was also shot in Hawaii. That’s the homeland of that other behemoth Polynesian movie star—Jason Momoa. The next franchise episode will have Jason and Dwayne play half-brothers, I’m sure of it. And since Johnson hasn’t played a superhero yet, this brotherly linking will necessitate that Johnson be the Marvel version of Aquaman: Namor. Cool.

‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’
Director: David Leitch
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza González
Rating: PG-13
Running time: 2 hours, 17 minutes
Release Date: Aug. 2
Rated: 3.5 stars out of 5

Follow Mark on Twitter: @FilmCriticEpoch