The Fast and the Furious franchise has had a fascinating tenure in theaters and, true to its title, is showing no signs of slowing down. While the main franchise will continue with the upcoming ninth movie, new ground is being broken with spinoff movies. The first of these experiments comes in the form of Hobbs & Shaw, starring The Rock and Jason Statham as their respective badass characters.
The trailers for Hobbs & Shaw promised over the top action, as well as quick fire dialogue shared between its two title characters. While the movie is obviously anticipated by the fandom, how well did it fare with critics? The reviews are in, and it seems that the movie is delivering all the beats that you'd expect. CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg gave Hobbs & Shaw 3.5 stars out of five, saying:
It’s always fun when you can feel a palpable confidence from a blockbuster, and this one has it flowing. Not every stylistic choice fully works (especially those that get significant set ups without big payoffs), and logic isn’t consistently the narrative’s greatest concern, but the majority of its big swings connect.
While imperfect and sometimes illogical, it seems that Hobbs & Shaw really delivers on the action and char. And as such, any little details like that can be put aside to enjoy the Fast and Furious spinoff.
Johnson and Statham do little to surprise here. We have seen this dance before, and without the new and hoped-for shadings of blossoming love (or, hell, plain old lust), Hobbs & Shaw is a repetitive kind of experience. The guys say nasty things about their balls and puking to one another (the script, by Fast veteran Chris Morgan and Hotel Artemis director Drew Pearce, is downright ugly), and then they go a-shootin’ and a-punchin’, all in service of tracking down a killer virus and warding off the menace of a mechanically enhanced rogue agent played by Idris Elba.
The Fast & the Furious franchise has become one of the biggest action franchises in the business, leaving behind car races for over the top action. Hobbs & Shaw takes these even further, at least according to Variety's Peter Debrudge, who maintains that all realism goes out the window. In his words:
You may enter a film like this one believing you had some grasp of how gravity works, or the human threshold for pain, or what constitutes a good movie, but the experience is so exhilaratingly mind-altering, so radically untethered from terra firma, you basically have to readjust your basic understanding of everything you know to be true and just go with the flow. Speed equals distance over time? That elementary physics equation may hold up in school, but the only rule that applies here is the faster the movie goes, the more audiences are willing to suspend disbelief.
Aside from explosions and wild action, the Fast & Furious franchise is also synonymous with its themes on family. The group of the main franchise are each other's chosen kin, helping to raise the emotional stakes of each blockbuster. But according to USA Today's Brian Truitt, the spinoff fails to do the same.
These movies also have always put an emphasis on family themes, and the spinoff misses chances to add emotional layers. Hobbs is estranged from his clan, Deckard and Hattie were once joined at the hip but now are essentially on opposite sides of the law, but all deal with their issues in frustratingly fleeting fashion – one yearns for the old heart-to-hearts between Diesel and the late Paul Walker in past Fast flicks.
Some critics have also taken umbrage with Hobbs & Shaw's runtime, claiming that despite all its over the top stunts, the movie gets dull at points. IndieWire's Eric Kohn put it:
For the most part, the bulk of Hobbs & Shaw belongs to its leading men, as they careen toward one showdown after another, but even they can’t save it from growing tiresome with time. Once the movie arrives at a finale involving multiple cars jammed together and tied to a helicopter on the edge of a cliff, Hobbs & Shaw has been spinning its wheels for nearly an hour.
Despite the concerns being raised in some reviews about Hobbs & Shaw, Gamespot's Chris Hayner maintains the movie isn't bad. It's just lacking in realism. He said:
Before going too far, it should be noted that Hobbs & Shaw isn't a bad movie. It's wildly entertaining and loaded with the kind of thrills you come to expect from Fast & Furious movies--from explosive car chases to superhuman antics that could be pulled off by no mere mortal, even if the characters of the film are supposed to be your average human beings. If that's why you watch these movies, chances are you're going to have a great time when you settle down in the theater to watch Hobbs & Shaw.
The fun and spectacle of Hobbs & Shaw seems to be its strongest point, as well as the chemistry shared between its stars. SlashFilm's Hoai-Tran Bui pointed out the film's positive points, saying:
Despite its failings and annoying tendency to stretch out jokes to the point of excess, Hobbs & Shaw succeeds in doing exactly what it promises to do. Hobbs & Shaw is an action movie as a meme; the entire film is a self-effacing wink at the audience. It delivers to us what we want in a movie where Johnson and Statham are filmed 85% of the time in slow-motion: good dumb fun.
Given the mixed bag of reviews, it should be interesting to see how Hobbs & Shaw does on aggregating sites like Rotten Tomatoes. And since the upcoming blockbuster appears to be so fun, will there be a discrepancy with audience scores? Only time will tell, but those answers should arrive shortly.