Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw is an action showcase, full of wild scenes involving everything from transforming motorcycles and helicopter fishing to group battles and insane car chases. It undoubtedly took a lot of thought and planning to come up with all of these action scenes, but for one of them, the notion first struck co-writer Drew Pearce while some 30,000 feet in the air. In an exclusive interview with CinemaBlend, Drew Pearce spoke about the action scene he created on a cocktail napkin, saying:
One of my favorite sequences, which again has been vastly shown in the trailers, so I don't think I'm really giving anything away, is the double corridor sequence. … That one I came up with on a napkin with a Bloody Mary stain on it on the plane into London. I was trying to find action sequences where they could fuck with each other, but it also wasn't endangering each other because that felt like it sold out the characters. And weirdly, my stopping point for that one is, ‘Well, what if they can see each other, and they can fuck with each other, but they can't actually affect each other's fights.’
You never know when inspiration will strike, and for Drew Pearce, it came on an airplane on the way to London. J.K. Rowling came up with the Hogwarts houses on an airplane sick bag, so he’s in good company. It seems that Drew Pearce was specifically trying to figure out action sequences where the antagonistic relationship between Hobbs and Shaw could play out, but one in which they were still on the same side. So he came up with the double corridor scene.
The double corridor scene (which, as Drew Pearce says, has been shown in the trailers, as have the majority of the film’s action scenes) allowed for Hobbs and Shaw to mess with each other and engage in some one-upmanship, while still working towards the same goal. The wall and glass separating them means that they can’t help each other or claim each other’s victims, but their mutual dislike can still play out, and it does with Shaw showing off and Hobbs appearing unimpressed.
It makes sense that Drew Pearce would need to sketch this out versus just taking notes on a phone. It’s definitely the kind of scene you need to visualize and see how it would work. Fortunately, the writer had a cocktail napkin handy. All this great inspiration happening on napkins and sick bags in airplanes, and everyone is busy trying to write the next big thing on laptops in Starbucks. Lame!
Coming up with the action scenes for Hobbs & Shaw wasn’t just about making something that looks cool though. For Drew Pearce, the action has to inform the story and the characters. He explained his thinking, saying:
I'm of the old-school tradition that believes an action sequence should move the story forward as much as a more traditionally dramatic sequence. If the movie’s in the same place at the end of an action sequence as is it the beginning, if the characters are in the same place, if their relationships haven’t changed, if something hasn't happened, then truthfully it's just treading water, however exciting and however dynamic it is. There has to be some meaning behind it, as well as a really good gag. And by the way, in this movie, it can be as simple as we need something to make them even more angry with each other. That works too, in the greater arc.
Action for action’s sake is fun and can entertain an audience, but being able to entertain with action while also furthering the story is the ideal to strive for, according to Drew Pearce. The things that happen during the action scenes, like the one in the double corridor with Hobbs and Shaw, should impact the story and those relationships once the action is over.
I think Hobbs & Shaw does a pretty good job in this regard because there are character beats in the film’s action sequences that alter the relationships between the characters and how they see each other. While it’s a funny gag to see Hobbs and Shaw trolling each other in the double corridor, that heightens their mutual animosity which influences things that happen after.