Hobbs & Shaw First Reviews: Absurdly Over-the-Top, but Anchored by Great Comedic Chemistry

Critics say the Fast and Furious spinoff makes for decent, high-octane fun, depending on how far you're willing to suspend your disbelief.

by | July 31, 2019 | Comments

One of the biggest movie franchises on the planet expands outward with Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. The spin-off stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as their respectively titular characters from the Fast and the Furious series as they reluctantly team up to take on a superhuman villain played by Idris Elba. What ensues is less a F&F movie than a silly superhero action movie, according to its first reviews. You mostly get what you expect, plus a standout Vanessa Kirby and surprise cameos, if you’re just interested in dumb popcorn fare.

Here’s what critics are saying about Hobbs & Shaw:

How does it fit in the Fast & Furious franchise?

The spin-off film is nigh unrecognizable from the gritty low-level crime days of early Fast and Furious, and even the high-stakes heists of the more recent films.
– Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

Too sci-fi for the world of Fast & Furious… the bionic stuff is anathema to the franchise’s core, meat-based values.
– Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

It’s all a little sci-fi for the Fast & Furious franchise, though it’s arguably no more ridiculous than launching parachute-sporting cars out of planes.
– James Mottram, Total Film

It’s a Fast & Furious movie that doesn’t really care that it’s a part of the franchise.
– Germain Lussier, io9

What really stands out from this Fast movie is how little help it needs from the franchise for it to work.
– Jason Guerrasio, Business Insider

Does it meet expectations otherwise?

It delivers some bangs and laughs for your buck.
– Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

If you liked Johnson and Statham’s big jailbreak in Fate of the Furious and thought you’d want to see a whole movie of that duo, then you’re in luck. And it’s as awesome as you’d hoped.
Edward Douglas, The Beat

It’s not going to change your life but if you are looking for a silly, over-the-top entertainment with very likable leads than there is more than enough to enjoy here.
Rachel Wagner,

I get it, you, the audience, have bought a ticket for the punches and perhaps the punchlines… But do we not deserve better?
J. Don Birnam, Splash Report

Frank Masi / © Universal

(Photo by Frank Masi / © Universal)

How is the chemistry between Johnson and Statham?

The back and forth banter between the two of them is hilariously written, and their deadpan delivery is incredible.
Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment

Hobbs & Shaw is anchored by excellent comedic chemistry between Johnson and Statham, building on their dynamic from the previous film and ensuring laughs are in ample supply.
Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

Johnson and Statham do have great chemistry and comedically play off each other well.
Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

The actors always feel like they’re trying to outdo each other. At times, that chemistry works well, but eventually it gets a little repetitive and numbing.
Germain Lussier, io9

Simultaneously the best and worst parts of the film are Hobbs and Shaw’s arguments… these scenes start to drag once they’ve been going on for over five minutes straight.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

Is Idris Elba a satisfying villain?

Idris Elba as the evil Brixton Lorr is phenomenal.
Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment

Elba is truly savage throughout in a could’ve-been-Bond performance of action and brute force.
Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

Elba allures through all that relentless cyborg glint, but he nonetheless feels like an unwelcome visitor from a different franchise.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

Daniel Smith / © Universal

(Photo by Daniel Smith / © Universal)

Who really owns the movie?

For all the hyper-male puffing, Hobbs & Shaw is most memorable for the opportunities it gives to Vanessa Kirby.
Donald Clarke, Irish Times

It’s a pleasure to watch Kirby go from cigarette-addled Princess Margaret on The Crown to this commanding bit of action-heroing.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

I was particularly impressed with Kirby, who holds her own.
Rachel Wagner,

What I love about the character is that she doesn’t have to sit around and let the men fight for her… her fight scenes are amazing and prove her range as an actress.
Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment

What’s all this about cameos?

Some of the film’s biggest laughs come courtesy of two scene-stealing cameos that we won’t spoil here.
Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

Has some great surprises for the audience with a few A+ cameos.
Jason Guerrasio, Business Insider

These cameos are a delight to stumble upon, and I would suggest you go in not knowing who you’ll see. It adds to the magic of the film.
Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment

The film gets weighed down by its self-indulgent excess and distracting cameos from the cast and crew’s best buddies.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

© Universal

(Photo by © Universal)

This is all that matters: How is the action?

The action scenes are where Hobbs & Shaw truly excels.
Candice Frederick, The Wrap

The action in the film is off the charts. Some scenes are sure to leave your jaw on the floor.
Ashley Menzel, We Live Entertainment

Boasts a chase sequence — featuring a helicopter, a tow truck, and a group of souped-up hot rods — that’s absolutely bonkers.
Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

The early action sequences are impressively choreographed but disappointingly limp, delivering none of the bombast that a Hobbs & Shaw movie would promise.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

Somewhere around the midpoint of Hobbs & Shaw, the action sequences become so elaborate that they start to weigh the movie down.
Stephanie Zacharek, Time

It’s only in the final third when the fight choreography gets a little too incoherent that you realize you don’t give a damn about anything that’s happening.
Brian Tallerico,

Is Hobbs & Shaw too cartoonish even for a Fast & Furious movie?

Hobbs & Shaw checks all the boxes for the rousing, over-the-top ludicrousness you’d expect… [but it] tests the limits of that absurdity.
Brian Truitt, USA Today

From motorcycles that transform and cars that twist in the air, to jumping off buildings and slow-motion fistfights, the whole movie is a cartoon.
Germain Lussier, io9

It’s basically a cartoon, a machismo-laden thrill ride that borders on parody and is, at times, unspeakably dumb, but in the best possible way.
Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

In Fast & Furious, is there really such a thing as “too much?”
James Mottram, Total Film

Daniel Smith / © Universal

(Photo by Daniel Smith / © Universal)

What’s really missing here?

Without its own identity, without an interesting hook or resonant emotional through-line, most of the movie feels rather shallow — like it’s trying to impress us instead of engage us.
Germain Lussier, io9

One yearns for the old heart-to-hearts between Diesel and the late Paul Walker…Hobbs & Shaw forgets to maintain the balance of insanity and heart that makes the series special.
Brian Truitt, USA Today

But who needs Oscars anyway, right?

When compared to, say, the last five movies to win best picture, there’s a sense that [it’s] doing more to advance film literacy — while bludgeoning all other aspects of our intellect in the process.
Peter Debruge, Variety

[The Fast & Furious movies are] made solely for entertainment purposes, and for the most part, they always deliver. Hobbs & Shaw is no exception.
Edward Douglas, The Beat

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw opens in theaters August 2, 2019. 

Adjusted Score: 88701%
Critics Consensus: Hobbs & Shaw doesn't rev as high as the franchise's best installments, but gets decent mileage out of its well-matched stars and over-the-top action sequences.
Synopsis: Brixton Lorr is a cybernetically enhanced soldier who possesses superhuman strength, a brilliant mind and a lethal pathogen that could... [More]
Directed By: David Leitch

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