3 out of 4 stars
Meet Brixton Lorr, who’s the evolution of man, a bionically upgraded human with bulletproof hands and a punch so powerful he would make any Avenger envious.
He’s known as “Black Superman,” since while he looks human – save for his computer-enhanced retinas – his super powers are undeniable and he’s out for genocide. He’s not just a villain, but a cyber-villain, which is exactly what was needed to differentiate Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw from the franchise’s eight predecessors.
Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw isn’t a sequel to “Fast and the Furious,” a franchise that has taken home about $5 billion at the box office. It’s a spin-off – and one in which watching any “Fast and Furious” movie isn’t required.
Lorr, played brilliantly by Idris Elba, tries to avoid his kryptonite in Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who must put aside their differences for the sake of saving the world.
Lorr’s goal is simple: get his hands on “Snowflake,” an airborne, DNA-attacking virus that can wipe out a targeted area within days.
“Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is about evolution, as in elevating a franchise that has gone from plots centered simple on street racing to more recent installments using cars as weapons to destroy planes, leap between skyscrapers and fall out of the sky using parachutes.
“Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is a pure action movie. From the opening scene, the movie rarely lets the audience take a breath. From the fight scenes, to the car chases and to one explosion after another, Hobbs and Shaw grab your attention and don’t let go for more than two hours.
That’s good, and bad. Statham and Johnson complement each other well, providing genuinely funny banter and trash talking, but most of the time, they’re just too busy kicking bad guys’ asses.
Statham, a former British agent, and Hobbs, an active member of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, work with Shaw’s sister and rogue MI6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), who had to inject herself with the Snowflake virus to prevent it from falling into Lorr’s possession.
At its core, “Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” isn’t really a “Fast and the Furious” movie since Johnson and Statham simply don’t have the street mentality personified by Vin Diesel, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson. They were by no means villains, but they weren’t completely good guys, either.
Hobbs is a good guy. He is a loving father, works out regularly and would rather pop a criminal with a uppercut. Meanwhile, Shaw, who is loyal to no one and has no friends, favors popping a cap in anyone who gets in his way.
The dynamic plays well, especially when they decide to work as a team instead of constantly trying to one-up the other, which means like Lorr, they’ve evolved, too.
And that makes Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw worth seeing in the theater.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 18 years experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He’s also an editor for CBSSports.com. He’s crossing his fingers the only baseball team in Baltimore that will contend for a title this summer won’t be his fantasy squad, the Catonsville Cartel. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.