‘Hobbs And Shaw’ Keeps the Engines Revving

Photo provided by Seven Bucks Production

By Susan JAMES

Twelve movies in and the “Fast and Furious” franchise has a new baby brother, a spin-off explosion of two side characters, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). While Hobbs has operated on the side of the angels as part of Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto franchise, Shaw has been a sketchier player, unsure just whose side he’s on. In “Hobbs and Shaw,” he’s here to play for the home team. And the chemistry between the bros keeps the engines of this movie revving along.

Forget about the story. If you want nuance, go see “Avengers: Endgame” again. The details here in a script by Chris Morgan, directed by David Leitch, will be OMG familiar. An evil organization run by an unknown mastermind who communicates through a voice-distorted computer has created a half-bionic, half-human killing machine named Brixton (Idris Elba).  Brix’s orders are to take control of a toxic mutant virus that will – stop me if you’ve heard this – destroy most life on the planet by melting everyone’s insides. Why, you ask, since the bad guys are also living on the planet would they want to do this? Don’t ask. Just go with the flow.

Hobbs works for the U.S. government. Shaw, framed for killing off his former crew, is a disgraced agent of the British secret services. Famously, they hate each other. But it’s a bro-type hatred, all crackling one-liners and cracked skulls. Brought together to team up in retrieving the toxic mutant virus (TMV), they refuse to work together. Snappy banter ensues. But the fly in the ointment is a badass MI6 agent in desperate need of backup. Played by Vanessa Kirby as someone striving hard to become Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Hattie turns out to be Shaw’s estranged sister. She has the TMV, is on the lam and genetically jiggered bionic man Brixton is hot on her trail riding a very hot motorcycle that can do more tricks than a pack of performing ponies.  Although, sidebar here for personal opinion, Vin Diesel’s performing motorcycle in “XXX,” a 1999 MV Agusta Series ORO, outperformed this one.  Don’t tell Brixton.

And speaking of Brixton: how about that Idris Elba? Finally a bad guy who can hold his own against the Rock. Brixton is a former British agent gone rogue (they need their own club) who was killed and brought back to life by that aforementioned evil, voice-distorted mastermind. Brix has Iron Man’s very helpful eye-readout that can target an object or duck a bomb at will. But his transition from dead man to man-god has not been easy and his pain is part of the fuel that propels him to want annihilation for the weaklings of the human race. 

The final explosive scenes take place in Samoa, a nod to the Rock’s maternal roots. But the gritty look of this Samoa, an industrial wasteland by the sea, would curl the hair of any self-respecting national tourist agency. It does, however, allow for a crash course in ancient Samoan weaponry and the Samoan war dance haka. A majestically oiled-up Hobbs in all his tat finery is included in the price of admission. One thing you can say for “Hobbs and Shaw:” If it doesn’t soar, at least it never gears down its roar. 

Expect sequels. 

See you at the movies!