- The first “Fast and Furious” spin-off movie, “Hobbs & Shaw,” is the most fun you’ll have in theaters this summer.
- Filled with comedy and action, the movie is so strong on its own it doesn’t need much from the “Fast” franchise to make it work.
- It could be the start of another lucrative franchise for Universal.
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The summer movie season comes to a close with a lot of explosions, and a lot of family, as the release of the first spin-off movie from Universal’s hugely successful “Fast and Furious” franchise, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (opening Friday), is upon us.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their characters from the “Fast” franchise — Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, respectively — as they team up to save the world. Again.
But what really stands out from this “Fast” movie is how little help it needs from the franchise for it to work. The movie is not weighed down with making sure to remind the audience that it is a spin-off of a series of films that has been going on since 2001. Instead, director David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde,” “Deadpool 2”) and franchise screenwriter Chris Morgan (who is also a producer on this movie) focus on making “Hobbs & Shaw” a strong standalone movie.
In pulling that off, the movie uses the smack-talking banter that Johnson and Statham are so good at as the foundation to create something that’s more light-hearted than the main franchise offerings — while still giving the audience lots of action. If you feel the main “Fast” franchise takes itself a little too seriously, don’t worry, this movie doesn’t have that problem.
If anything, “Hobbs & Shaw” has more the feel of a beefed-up “Lethal Weapon” movie than something from “Fast and Furious.” And that’s not a knock. That’s why the movie works.
To start the movie, we find Hobbs and Shaw on the opposite sides of the Atlantic going through their daily lives. But soon they both end up in the same room together when it’s learned that a deadly chemical that could destroy mankind is out in the open. And you guessed it, Hobbs and Shaw are the only two who can stop whoever has it. But if you are up on your “Fast” history, you know that these guys do not get along. That brings on a tense (and very funny) adventure.
And things only get more complicated when it’s revealed that the person with the Earth-ending chemical is Shaw’s estranged sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). But she’s been set up. She’s actually in possession of it because she’s trying to keep it from the true villain of this story, Brixton (Idris Elba). He’s a crazed crook who has been physically upgraded to be, as he describes himself, the Black Superman.
The fight sequences and car chases are constant in this movie. Leitch’s years in the stunt world mean he creates some sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The movie also elevates the “family” mindset that the “Fast” franchise lives by, as a main point in the movie revolves around Hobbs returning to his home in Samoa and reconnecting with his family, as he and Shaw prepare for one last stand against Brixton.
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Along with having the very capable Johnson and Statham to keep the audience riveted, whether it’s slinging insults to one another or taking turns kicking someone’s behind, Leitch also has some great surprises for the audience with a few A+ cameos.
What this all spells out is Universal is on the cusp of another lucrative franchise. The “Fast” movies have brought in over $5 billion worldwide for the studio, and there’s no reason why this can’t continue that momentum.
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