Together, the Fast & Furious movies make up one of the most unique ongoing franchise seen today. Starting out as a crime-thriller about drag racing, the series switched gears to explore genres normally not associated with muscle cars and badasses. Now, the franchise evolves again with its first official spin-off Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, which is a globetrotting espionage ride.
Starring the former antagonists DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and ex-soldier Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the buddy-comedy sees them saving the world from a virus that could kill billions. The buddy-comedy obviously differs from the mainline Fast & Furious, giving it a chance to improve on some elements while also missing the opportunity to do so. Here are 5 things from the Fast & Furious movies that Hobbs & Shaw does better upon and 5 that it doesn’t.
10 Improved – The Action
The Fast & Furious movies are known for their fights and chases, and each succeeding movie only improves on its predecessor. With Hobbs & Shaw, the franchise’s action is now at its peak and it’s an energetic sight to behold.
Using intricately choreographed fights that are easy to follow and insane vehicular combat that’s realized through a combination of practical and digital effects, Hobbs & Shaw boasts the series’ best action to date. But since it’s directed by David Leitch – aka one half of the original John Wick team – this shouldn’t be a surprise.
9 Didn’t Improve – The Comedy
The one part of the Fast & Furious movies that didn’t age well is the comedy. Though not offensive, its jokes stray on the more juvenile side of things. Meanwhile, Hobbs & Shaw takes things to an extreme and makes everything childish.
The banter between Hobbs and Deckard has its moments, especially when the two come up with creative ways to insult each other, but at times their arguments and pranks bogs down an otherwise non-stop ride. If you view Hobbs and Deckard as a pair of 13-year-olds acting tough, then their bickering would make more sense.
8 Improved – The Tone
Some critics and reviewers compared Hobbs & Shaw to a Saturday Morning Cartoon and this is a perfect summary. While the entire Fast & Furious franchise exudes this over-the-top vibe, its spin-off is the first one to embrace it wholeheartedly.
Hobbs & Shaw does slow down to give its characters time to breathe but these scenes don’t overstay their welcome. Compared to the Fast movies that struggle to balance the goofy vehicular action with its familial themes and the remnants of their original crime-thriller roots, Hobbs & Shaw doesn’t let its testosterone fuel get distracted by melodrama.
7 Didn’t Improve – The Actual Villains
While Brixton – aka Black Superman – is Hobbs and Shaw’s rival, he’s only following the orders and ideology of Eteon. Using its seemingly endless amount of manpower and resources, the eugenicist global conspiracy seeks to usher the next stage of human evolution by engineering the genocide of those it considers unworthy.
Basically, Eteon is vaguer and weaker version of Cipher’s faction from Fate of the Furious. Though the cyber-terrorist may seem a bit shoehorned in the Fast movies, Cipher’s motives and presence were clearly defined. Conversely, Eteon’s goals and influence are only given lip service at best before the explosions resume.
6 Improved – The Focal Bad Guy
Speaking of Brixton, Eteon’s top enforcer may be the franchise’s best villain to date. The supposedly dead soldier from Deckard’s past doesn’t seem much different from the likes of Owen Shaw and his mercenaries in Fast & Furious 6, but Brixton has one advantage: he enjoys beating up the heroes.
Where previous antagonists where the smug and brooding foils to Dom’s street smart crew of fun-loving badasses, Brixton relishes in his role as the designated bad guy. With his fighting prowess, sense of humor, and Idris Elba’s charisma, Brixton won’t be an easily forgotten presence in the series.
5 Didn’t Improve – Female Representation
In a genre typically aimed at men, the Fast & Furious movies stand out in the action landscape by being welcoming towards women. Granted, their laughably gratuitous amount of scantily-clad women borders on self-parody but it still deserves credit for adding female drivers and fighters who are on par or even better than Dom and company.
Hobbs & Shaw drastically scales this back by incorporating only one major female character: Hattie Shaw, an MI6 agent and Deckard’s sister. Hattie gets her fair share of fighting but by the end, she’s a walking plot device and love interest for Hobbs.
4 Improved – Diversity
Just because Hobbs & Shaw has only one prominent female character doesn’t mean it turned its back on the Fast & Furious tradition of being a blockbuster champion of inclusion. Special mention goes to Hobbs’ family, who owns the spotlight during the movie’s final act.
Hobbs’ family is a proud Samoan clan who use their ancient traditions and weaponry to fend off Brixton’s technologically advanced forces. Outside of this movie and Moana, Samoans are barely represented in mainstream blockbusters, making Hobbs & Shaw one of their proudest cinematic moments yet.
3 Didn’t Improve – Deckard's Character
When he’s first introduced, Deckard Shaw is a stoic and deadly one-man army who announces his arrival by killing Han Lue. But by the time of Hobbs & Shaw, Deckard is the classy wise-cracking opposite of Hobbs’ musclebound tough guy persona.
Considering the movie’s buddy-comedy trappings and his almost non-existent redemption arc in Fate of the Furious, Deckard’s more upbeat personality and his tragically heroic backstory are a step down from the foreboding stone-cold menace he once was. If he used to be the series’ most intimidating presence, he’s now just another ass-kicking driver with one-liners.
2 Improved – Hobbs' Character
Hobbs started as a rival to Dominic Toretto and his crew but he eventually became one of them. It even seemed like he was set to replace Dom in Fate of the Furious – much to the chagrin of older Fast & Furious fans, especially when the formerly antagonistic Hobbs began extolling family values similar to Dom.
Hobbs & Shaw fixes this by turning him into his own character. Thanks to an interesting backstory, Hobbs’ law-abiding nature and habit of working with shady criminals is explored. This makes him a fleshed out action hero instead of a knock-off Dom.
1 Didn’t Improve – Family
The one thing that Fast & Furious is known for is family. Dom and company may not be blood relatives but that doesn’t stop them from being a family, making their bond and love the most endearing of its kind seen in recent blockbuster memory.
Hobbs & Shaw still values family but in a more literal sense. Here, Hobbs and Deckard rebuild bridges with their estranged siblings and parents over welcoming people into their lives. While this isn’t bad, it’s already been done to death and it isn’t as unique or compelling as the dynamic of Dom’s family.