A brief list of things that are somehow not the craziest part of Hobbs & Shaw, the Fast & Furious spinoff that stars The Rock and Jason Statham as loose cannon crime fighters who are trying to take down a secretive billion-dollar organization that wants to create a line of mechanically-altered superhumans for reasons that are never made much more clear than “because mechanically-altered superhumans are cool”:
- Jason Statham’s character — who, we learn, has a kid sister he did grifts with while they were growing up, despite the fact that the actress who plays the sister, Vanessa Kirby, is a full two decades younger than Statham — at one point makes an offhand remark that suggests the 2003 film The Italian Job exists within the Fast & Furious universe
- Idris Elba — the primary warrior for the mechanically-altered army, who has Terminator-eyes and appears to be bulletproof — brushes off concerns about millions of people dying from a man-made super virus by saying, I swear to God, “genocide schmenocide”
- The Rock prevents a helicopter from getting away by grabbing a chain and yoinking it really hard, with one arm, even though the helicopter pulled multiple NOS-powered Samoan pickup trucks into the air just moments earlier
To be clear, these are all crazy, and even crazier if you try to think about them for more than five seconds. The Italian Job reference alone raises all sorts of issues and seems to imply that Charlize Theron’s character from that movie went on to become the anarchist cyberhacker she plays in Fate of the Furious, which, to be quite honest, is a journey I would love to see depicted in its own feature-length film. But thinking about things is not what we’re here to do. We’re here to watch The Rock and Jason Statham whomp on dudes in various locations around the world and occasionally whomp on each other. We’re here to watch these movies twist themselves into a chronological pretzel to maintain the integrity of their timeline while also shrugging off the physics of that helicopter thing. We’re here for booms and bangs. There will be no Q&A after the film. Please exit quietly.
But that brings us to another issue. If those aren’t the craziest parts of the movie, and we’re not supposed to analyze anything below the surface level to make the argument that they are, then where do we go from here? What is the craziest part of Hobbs & Shaw, an objectively crazy movie? Well, consider this: Maybe the craziest part of Hobbs & Shaw is the fact that it exists at all.
There are two ways to approach this concept, one coming from our own stupid/boring world and one coming from inside the Fast & Furious universe. Stupid/boring first. Please take a moment, right now, to consider the circuitous path this franchise has taken to get here. It started in 2001 as a Point Break knockoff about muscular thieves in neon Hondas who steal DVD players. Vin Diesel left and was replaced by Ludacris and Tyrese. Then everyone left and the whole franchise moved to Tokyo for one high school movie that featured Bow Wow driving a car inspired by the Incredible Hulk. None of this is the weird part.
The weird part is what happened next. The whole cast came back for the fourth movie. Sung Kang was in there, too, which was even weirder because his character, Han, died in Tokyo Drift, and this brings us to the aforementioned chronological pretzel. The third film in the franchise technically takes place between the sixth and seventh. Vin Diesel self-produced a short film titled Los Bandoleros that fills in narrative gaps. (This is true. Look it up.) I forgot to mention it earlier but the reason Tokyo Drift takes place in Japan is because a Texas teenager lost a street race to Brad from Home Improvement that was set to “Bawitaba.” And this franchise is still alive, and it’s bigger than ever, making Star Wars money at the box office and spawning a spinoff that stars two of the biggest action stars in the world and prominently features Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren. I’m sorry, but that’s crazy.
The in-universe aspect of the whole thing might top it, though. Look at how we got here. Luke Hobbs was introduced in Fast Five as a no-nonsense special agent with a neck like a sequoia and a collection of child-sized medium Under Armour t-shirts. He is now a wiseacre goof who has put aside his qualms about the way Dominic Toretto and company do business and gone on to save the world with them two times. Deckard Shaw was the world’s most dangerous villain as recently as two movies ago. He destroyed a hospital and killed dozens of people and tried to shoot Vin Diesel out of the Abu Dhabi sky with a bazooka after blowing up his house with a mail bomb.
Most notably, he was the one who killed Han in Tokyo Drift, which we learned in a post-credits scene after the sixth movie, because these movies never once miss an opportunity to complicate things that never needed complicating. And, in classic Fast & Furious style, the franchise has now redeemed him almost entirely by making him a wiseacre goof too, and explaining — in this movie, multiple films after his introduction — that he was only bad because he was burned by Idris Elba’s secret billionaire corporation, etc. etc. etc. Two things are true in all of this: One, I have no doubt that Idris Elba’s character from Hobbs & Shaw will somehow be folded into the good guy group within two movies, three tops, because there’s no way this franchise will let a star get away without redeeming him first; two, trying to explain any of this to anyone who has not seen the movies — please do try this at least once — will make you look completely insane.
That’s what I mean. The whole thing is crazy, top to bottom, every last piece of it. There’s no way this movie should exist, on multiple levels. And yet, there it is, doing an ancient warrior chant on a Samoan beach whose entire weather system changes every 15 minutes. You almost have to love it, if not for the bangs and booms then just for the sheer audacity of it all.
One day, mark my words, this franchise will end up in space. This will be crazy in the moment, certainly, but still less crazy than the franchise as a whole.