The joy of watching a Fast and Furious movie is sort of like the joy of being American. The franchise is a celebration of being louder, brasher, younger, dumber — of excess just because.
They even have the feel of new money about them. Whereas Marvel and Star Wars movies come with extensive backstories and the weight of fan expectations, Fast and Furious seemed to spring fully formed from a movie producer’s attempt to understand the youngs. They read an article on street racing and hoped to capitalize on a culturally bankrupt age (the early aughts), with mumble-mouthed actors playing second fiddle to loud, ugly vroom cars. A half-cocked idea became a surprise phenomenon, and now that same half-bright C-student of a franchise has unlimited money to blow through as fast as they can, replacing the mumble-mouths with the biggest action stars in the world and smashing the vroom cars into nuclear subs and driving them off skyscrapers into military helicopters. Kablammo! It’s honestly hard to write a fitting review of these films that isn’t an onomatopoeia.
It’s not just that they’re a little absurd, their success is absurd. To see The Fast And The Furious grow into a billion-dollar franchise is like watching some real-life version of King Ralph or The Beverly Hillbillies, where boorish upstarts burn four-wheeler rubber across marble floors.
In the latest iteration, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (aka 9 Fast 9 Furious), The Rock plays Luke Hobbs, originally introduced as the always-damp diplomatic security service (DSS) agent trying to take down Dom Torretto’s gang in Fast Five. Initially he played antagonist, but there’s nothing this franchise and its fanbase respects more than American beef, and they couldn’t even get through one movie without teasing an eventual face turn (which came at the end, when Hobbs defied his superiors to let Dom vroom car his way off into the sunset, Point Break-style). Jason Statham plays Deckard Shaw, older brother to Furious 6‘s Owen Shaw, played by Luke Evans, and blah blah blah, he’s The Stath, okay? Jason Statham plays one character, and with such an illustrious career droivin’ flash sazz wagons and knobbin’ fit birds he was a perfect fit for the franchise.
Early on we get a split-screen side-by-side of Hobbs and Shaw, going about their respective days, Hobbs cracking some eggs into a glass to chug before he pumps some iron, Shaw cracking some eggs into a bowl to make an omelette for the sexy lady in his bed, whom he’s presumably just finished satisfying sexually. Eventually, they end up in similar situations, taking on multiple bad guys and dispensing gratuitous crotch trauma. They’re different, yet the same! Brothers in crotch trauma.
Meanwhile, in some other part of the world, sexy MI-6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) is trying to retrieve a synthetic supervirus, which she ends up injecting into her own body, thus turning herself into a human bioweapon/time bomb/Macguffin. In order to get the virus back, the CIA, in the form of wise-cracking agent Locke, played by Ryan Reynolds, naturally wants muscle-bound DSS agent Hobbs to team up with British supercriminal Shaw. Hobbs & Shaw director David Leitch previously directed Reynolds in Deadpool 2, and Reynolds’ homoerotic banter with The Rock almost feels like a tie-in sequence.