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<pre><pre>In Hobbs & Shaw, the Fast & Furious crew is in fact the X-Men
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The fast and the furious series has undergone a number of radical changes since 2001 when the franchise was launched with a film about LA car enthusiasts who fund their passion for illegal street racing by stimulating DVD players. (It was a different era.) The original film was not exactly a restrained indie, but nothing suggested that it would eventually evolve into a globetrotting asset ranch that Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his ever-growing crew putted against international terrorists and other nefarious enemies.

The series has changed genre a few times, but at the moment it no longer resembles the X-Men (not so much the super-powerful mutants of the films as the X-Men from the long-running comics, in which colorful characters with specialized skills unite around a common cause and save the world). Group members float in and out, suspected dead teammates sometimes turn out to have a memory loss, and while navigating through a hostile world that doesn't understand them, a charismatic bald leader holds them together by emphasizing that they are an improvised family.

To continue the analogy, that would make Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw the equivalent of the franchise Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, a spin-off project in which two teammates with a nice dynamic and unique chemistry set off on their own for a side issue. Hobbs & Shaw repeats DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a British black-ops agent who has become a bad guy, a good guy (more or less) who was previously in the F&F fold, although he killed beloved team member Han. (However, he saved Dom & # 39; s baby, which apparently makes things right. The series has a strange sense of morality.) Of course, that doesn't mean that Shaw and Hobbs like each other when the movie is opened. What kind of buddy movie would it be without controversial chatter?

Co-writing with Drew Pearce, long-time series writer Chris Morgan offers controversial banter abundance when Hobbs and Shaw reluctantly reunite to deal with a world-threatening programmable supervirus that has disappeared in London – with Shaw's MI6 agent sister Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) as the the apparent thief of the virus. There is of course more going on. Hattie injected himself with the virus, sure, but only to keep it away from Etheon, a malicious company with plans to save humanity by killing large parts of it. Etheon has huge resources and a killer app in the form of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a rogue MI6 employee whose broken body has been rebuilt and reprogrammed with superhuman capabilities. Can the protagonists save the world despite overwhelming opportunities? Perhaps, but in the tradition of the recent F&F movies, they first have to travel to a lot of exotic locations.


Photo: Universal Pictures

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It doesn't hurt to bring Fast & Furious knowledge Hobbs & Shaw, but what comes earlier doesn't really matter. This is partly because Hobbs and Shaw continue where they left off, squabbling and threatening each other, partly because the spin-off uses characters who are not as dependent on their personal history as the characters of their stars. Statham and Johnson are two of the most sympathetic action stars that work today, but neither is what mixes up so much from film to film. (The Johnson who turns up for the disaster movie San Andreas is not that unlike the one that turns up for Kevin Hart's comedy Central intelligence.) There is a reason for that: those persona & # 39; s work. And Hobbs & Shaw proves that they work well together and extend the sparkling dynamics of their previous performances together to have length.

Although Statham and Johnson are both large, bare muscle plates, they make a nice study in contrast, from an early series of split screens that capture their morning routines to a later fight scene in which Shaw has to turn off a room full of bad guys using grace and finesse, and Hobbs must somehow eliminate an even bigger enemy by brute force. Hobbs speaks with wrestling bravado. Shaw uses insults such as daggers. Hobbs looms over Shaw. Shaw makes in scrappiness what he lacks in size. They have a number of fundamental differences and yet they form a pretty good team in a not-so-shocking development.


Photo: Universal Pictures

Kirby is also fun, just like Helen Mirren (as a criminal matriarch), a handful of great actors who make surprising cameos and Elba who plays a formidable enemy. But Hobbs & Shaw is very much about his duo of the same name that saves the world by a series of action pieces staged with panache by stunt coordinator-turned-director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2). Leitch continues a series of films that treat action scenes almost as musical sequences, with swelling rhythms that are built around a handful of breathtaking images. The gunplay and hand-to-hand battles (and battles with other weapons that are best left undamaged even though they appear in the trailer) have real impact, although some of the chase scenes rely too heavily on CGI for their effectiveness.

In fact, the gearhead pleasant moments feel almost as mandatory nods to the mother series Hobbs & Shaw otherwise it seems happy to forget. The unresolved hostilities between key cast members make it difficult to get a full picture Fast & Furious Reunion in the future, but Hobbs and Shaw seem to do well if that never happens. Their film leaves the door wide open for follow-up and sets up a supporting cast for future episodes, and the extremely entertaining, enthusiastic nature of this film makes it easy to welcome that option. The X-Men have often survived the departure of key figures. Dom and his family can certainly do the same.