" We tryin to make a movie here, not a film. "
— Eddie Murphy, Bowfinger

MRQE Top Critic

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It’s absurd & implausible, but it’s also a blast & enjoyable.

MI6 & CIA

Hobbs and Shaw
Hobbs and Shaw

Let’s sum up the plotline and get that out of the way. There’s more fun stuff to talk about in this one than the story.

So. Here we go.

There’s a virus that could wipe humanity off the earth from the inside out. The bad guys, led by a cyber-enhanced human, Brixton (Idris Elba, Pacific Rim), want it no matter the cost. To protect the populace, a CIA agent, Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby, Mission: Impossible — Fallout), has injected it into her system to prevent its replication and dispersal.

Um. And it’s up to Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, 2003’s The Italian Job) to find her, clear her name, save her life and, ultimately, save the world.

Again.

That it all ends in a climax somewhat reminiscent of Return of the Jedi — low-tech underdog heroes taking on an evil empire of high-tech weaponry — is a little crazy. There’s also a faceless villain, who sounds an awful lot like the MCP in Tron, commanding Brixton’s every move. But, c’mon, the movie’s a hoot. It knows what it is and it does it with loads upon loads upon loads of aplomb.

Thank director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) for keeping this one grounded in its own insanity. The repartee between Hobbs and Shaw is beyond snappy and it’s consistently very funny. The action is agreeably over the top. And it all adds up to a highly entertaining spin-off to a series of movies that has exploded from such humble beginnings in The Fast and the Furious as an action drama way back in 2001 to an international powerhouse of a franchise.

Tats & Clubs

Wait a minute. Is that Hattie Shaw and Deckard Shaw?

Yep. They’re siblings. The Shaw kids. And their mom, Magdalene?

That’s Helen Mirren (The Queen), picking up where she left off in The Fate of the Furious.

Dang. She’s one of three really cool cameos. The other two? Well, others might divulge names. But this keyboard knows how to keep a secret or two.

The pure, blissful surprise of seeing these top-shelf performers unexpectedly pop onto the screen is simply too good to spoil. To not know is to enjoy it all the more as the characters do their thing.

And that’s really part of the charm of this one. It’s 137 minutes of virtually non-stop entertainment value. And, very much in the tradition of John Wick, Atomic Blonde — and even the latest Mission: Impossible adventures (the great ones, the ones directed by Christopher McQuarrie) — it moves the action genre forward with a relentless pace that makes the logic-defying aspects of the mayhem forgivable.

Nietzsche & Lee

This is the kind of movie in which almost of the guys sport carefully manicured beards. Or peach fuzz. How they have time to keep it to a precisely uniform amount of scruff from one chiseled chin to the next — whether on the faces of good, trying to save the planet, or on the faces of pure e-vil, trying to destroy it all — is not something to spend too much time contemplating. But that is most definitely a common observation within Jason Statham’s oeuvre. (See also: The Meg.)

The humor abounds with a giddy sense of playfulness, right down to a fourth cameo, one that will be shared: an early model Mini Cooper. It’s accompanied by a sly reference to Shaw having done a job in Italy.

Amid all the crazy action and humor — unshackled from the bouts of pretension and overwrought drama in the F&F series — there’s also a smidge of smarts in the screenplay by Drew Pearce (Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation) and frequent series scribe Chris Morgan.

As the good guys gain an advantage over Brixton, he turns to creating fake news and manipulates the media (seemingly devoid of understanding the basic notion of fact-checking) into framing Hobbs and Shaw. It’s an international media crisis that makes maintaining a low profile nigh impossible. A timely twist it is.

And, in a glorious salute to brains & brawn, a copy of The Portable Nietzsche is briefly seen. The famed philosopher is quoted side-by-side with Shaw & Shaw’s recollections of their childhood tag-team scams, each nicknamed after other pop culture legends, such as Mick Jagger and Keith Moon.

But there’s also a quote from Bruce Lee, so topical now in the shadow of Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. Lee really did say, once upon a time, “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

For Hobbs & Shaw, they’ve taken that pearl of wisdom to heart and kicked up to 11.