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‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Takes the Best Versions of the Rock and Jason Statham and Turns Them Loose

A ‘Fast & Furious’ fanatic on Fight Confidence, Cumulative Male Attractiveness, the Rock’s gray T-shirts, and Statham’s range

Universal Pictures
Spoiler alert

This really isn’t all that complicated. You either saw the Hobbs & Shaw trailer when it came out in April and said to yourself something like, “FUCK YES, MOTHERFUCKER, I AM ABSOLUTELY GOING TO WATCH THAT.” Or you saw the Hobbs & Shaw trailer when it came out in April and said to yourself something like, “Fuck no, motherfucker. I would never watch that.”

If you fall into the second category, then go ahead and X out of this internet browsing window and continue on about your day because there’s nothing here for you. If you fall into the first category, then go ahead and continue reading, because the rest of this article, which is basically just a typed-out version of the notes I scribbled down into a notepad during my second viewing of Hobbs & Shaw this past weekend, is for you, and for me, and for anyone who has ever dreamed about being strong enough to reach out of the window of a speeding car and snatch someone off of a motorcycle riding by.

THERE ARE KEY SPOILERS HERE SO DON’T GO PAST THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET

  • Hobbs & Shaw is a fun movie, but it’s so very clearly the announcement of a new movie franchise that they should’ve gone ahead and let you purchase your tickets for Hobbs & Shaw 2 and Hobbs & Shaw 3 as you walked out of the theater. Incidentally …
  • The theater where I watched Hobbs & Shaw the first time had a sign near the exit door that mentioned that a church holds mass there every Sunday. (This, I’m told, is a common practice at movie theaters.) When I saw the sign, I pointed it out to my youngest son and said, “They just had church in here today, too.” To which he replied, “What do you mean?” To which I said, “I was just making a joke. Because they have church in this theater on Sundays, but today it was the Rock and Jason Statham who were delivering the sermon.” To which he said, “What’s a sermon? Is that a fish?” To which I said, “No. That’s a salmon you’re thinking of.” To which he said, “Do salmon live in the ocean or in lakes?” To which I said, “Never mind.”

The reason I ended the conversation with him rather than answering the question about where salmon live is because (a) I don’t know where salmon live, and (b) I didn’t care enough about salmon to look up the answer.

  • The Rock looks fantastic in a gray T-shirt. It’s definitely his best color for a T-shirt.
  • Jason Statham is funny. I always forget about that part of his range. His best-ever funny movie scene was when he snuck up on Melissa McCarthy in the hotel room in Spy. You can watch it here
  • Jason Statham’s range, FYI, is two spaces wide. He can be Angry Grumbly and he can be Funny Grumbly. That’s it. That’s all you’re getting out of him. But it’s more than enough, because nobody on planet Earth is better at expressing those specific things than he is.
  • Hobbs & Shaw has the whole “Fast & Furious Presents” at the start of its official title, but it doesn’t really feel like a Fast movie. There are a couple of times when they try to play the emotion card that Vin Diesel has always been so great at delivering, but they never really land with the Rock and Statham. I miss Dominic Toretto. And since we’re here …
  • There’s a chase scene in Hobbs & Shaw where Statham Tokyo Drifts a sports car under two crisscrossing 18-wheelers while Idris Elba follows behind them on what’s essentially a living motorcycle. I’m sure nobody is ever going to come out and say it, but that scene felt a lot like the Rock was intentionally blowing dirt in Vin Diesel’s eye, what with Shaw’s 18-wheeler moment one-upping when Letty did a similar thing at the end of The Fast and the Furious, the movie that started the Fast universe. (Lest you think it’s an homage to the original and not a jab, I’ll point you toward the Instagram post where the Rock said that Hobbs & Shaw currently has the best audience rating of any movie in the Fast series. I know all he’s doing is stating a fact, but it feels a lot like one of those situations where you state a fact because you know it’ll insult someone else, like reminding people that the Warriors were the first team to ever blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals.)
  • Vanessa Kirby, who costars in Hobbs & Shaw as Hattie Shaw, an MI6 agent and younger sister to Statham’s Deckard Shaw, has real Fight Confidence. We caught a glimpse of it when she did some light-lift action work in Mission: Impossible—Fallout. But she has it on full display in Hobbs & Shaw. I’m excited about her action movie future.
  • “Fight Confidence,” by the way, refers to the ability to convincingly carry an action movie fight scene. It’s less about size and more about possessing the ability to move a certain way, to punch a certain way, to jump a certain way, to kick a certain way, to roll a certain way, etc. If you can’t do those things, then everything feels fake. It’s fine if an action movie set piece feels fake (like Idris Elba running down the side of a skyscraper), but it’s never OK if an action movie fight scene feels fake (the fight scenes between Idris and the Rock and Statham were wonderful and violent and good).
  • The most interesting example of an excellent actor who lacks Fight Confidence is Christian Bale. It’s why the big showdown at the end of Equilibrium, WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT, felt so blah, or why the fight between Bane and Batman at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT, felt so blah.
  • Some other (but certainly not all of the) modern actors who have Fight Confidence: The Rock (obviously), Jason Statham (obviously), Keanu Reeves (it was surprising up until John Wick 2, at which point it became retroactively obvious), Halle Berry (a big surprise, but also maybe not that surprising), Iko Uwais (the blow-for-blow most talented movie fighter alive today), Charlize Theron (an aside: the guy who directed Hobbs & Shaw also directed Atomic Blonde, an action movie that Theron stars in), Wesley Snipes (please God let him have a role in the new Blade), and Henry Cavill (I know everyone had a great time shitting on Justice League, but the Angry Superman fight was really fun).
  • Idris Elba took his role as a cyber-enhanced human very seriously, and I appreciate him so much for that. I’m sad that he had to die at the end of the movie, but I’m excited that he wasn’t just outright killed, because that means the window is open for him to come back in a future Hobbs & Shaw movie as a good guy. (The way it should happen is that his body washes up on the shore of an island somewhere. The Rock’s family finds him. His genius mechanic brother rewires all the machinery in Idris’s body and brings him back to life. He becomes good and joins the Rock and Statham in trying to take down the evil organization that created him. And then we get a great gag later on where they run into Kevin Hart again and he makes some comment about how he was supposed to be the third person in the group but that they went with Idris instead.)
  • Just so it’s said: The Rock and Jason Statham and Idris Elba all in the same movie fighting with each other and against each other is a real Meat Market Hall of Fame moment. They are all undeniably cool, and undeniably handsome, and undeniably magnetic. I’m not sure there’s ever been an action movie cast with a higher CMA rating.
  • “CMA,” by the way, is an acronym for Cumulative Male Attractiveness.
  • Cliff Curtis (who is from New Zealand) plays the Rock’s brother in Hobbs & Shaw. They meet up when the Rock goes back home to Samoa for the first time in decades. I like Cliff Curtis. I’ve liked him since back when he played a Mexican gangster in Training Day. Slate actually made a video five years ago where they highlighted all the times he’s played different ethnicities. He’s played, among others, an African American (in Bringing Out the Dead), an Iraqi (in Three Kings), a Mexican (in Training Day), a Colombian (in Blow), and an Indian (in A Thousand Words). Go ahead and add Samoan to that list now. (Curtis is actually of Māori descent.)
  • The scene shown in the trailer where the Rock tries to pull a helicopter out of the sky is the most exhilarating moment in the movie, and maybe even the entire point of the movie, and what I mean when I say that is: Inevitably, there will be a conversation about whether or not Hobbs & Shaw is a good movie. And that’s fine. I understand that. That’s what happens any time a movie comes out. But Hobbs & Shaw exists less to make it onto a year-end best-of list and more to serve as a playground for the Rock and Jason Statham to do a whole bunch of ridiculous shit for ridiculous reasons with ridiculous stakes against ridiculous odds. That’s why it’s going to be successful. It takes the best version of the Rock and the best version of Jason Statham and turns them loose. I didn’t love Hobbs & Shaw the way I loved, say, Furious 7, but if you told me they were making 10 more Hobbs & Shaw movies and I could buy my tickets right now in a special Hobbs & Shaw bundle that came with a free leather vest like the Rock wears in the movie, I absolutely would.