PLOT A lawman and a mercenary join forces to stop a technologically enhanced villain.
CAST Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba
RATED PG-13 (strong action-violence)
BOTTOM LINE Super-slick, stunt-driven entertainment.
What do you get when you cross "Black Panther," "Mission: Impossible," the "Fast & Furious" franchise and Hasbro's Transformers? A new kind of four-quadrant movie: "Hobbs & Shaw."
Properly titled "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," this spinoff of the popular cars-and-criminals series has carefully surveyed the Hollywood landscape and taken note of what sells. Here's what's in: fast cars, wild stunts, supervillains and cheeky humor. Here's what's out: virtually everything else.
The result is a mostly enjoyable movie that feels like many other mostly enjoyable movies. Reprising their "Fast & Furious" roles are Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs, a former federal agent, and Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw, a British soldier turned mercenary. The two mismatched buddies are thrown together on a case, but their target isn't the usual drug lord or arms dealer. He's a cyber-enhanced, bullet-proofed soldier named Brixton (Idris Elba, arrogant and soulful), from an organization called Eteon. They're ubermenschy, and not in a nice way.
"I'm black Superman," Brixton says wryly, though his shape-shifting motorcycle adds an element of black Batman, too. Into this superhero-styled world drops Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent who ingests a virus and becomes a ticking doomsday bomb. Kirby is convincing as a woman who can take care of herself (as she was in "Mission: Impossible — Fallout"). She even whips up a little romance with the usually asexual Johnson.
Speaking of chemistry, Johnson and Statham play well off each other, trading insults, puffing out chests and bro-ing down. They're no Gibson-Glover or Grodin-De Niro (the script, by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce, isn't exactly focused on character development), but they'll do.
Mostly, "Hobbs & Shaw" is concerned with keeping up the "Fast & Furious" reputation for outrageous stunt work, itself a reaction to the high standards set by the "Mission: Impossible" movies. It doesn't disappoint: Sports cars squeeze under trucks, motorcycles defy gravity, modern soldiers battle a tribe of traditional Samoans (a nod to Johnson's ancestry). Director David Leitch, of the brutally violent "Atomic Blonde," keeps the action tween-friendly, with little if any blood.
Clearly, a lot of money, materiel and human capital (including a couple of surprise guest stars) went into "Hobbs & Shaw," and most of it pays off. Is this a fun, fast-paced, entertaining movie? You bet. Is it memorable in any way? Sorry — what were we talking about?