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The 5 best and 5 worst things in Hobbs and Shaw

The Fast & Furious series has excelled by giving audiences everything they could ever want and then some. Want a franchise that's about fast cars? Fast & Furious. Want a franchise with a diverse cast of action stars? Fast & Furious. Want a franchise that's simultaneously incredibly complicated and built on an incredibly easy to understand high concept? Fast & Furious. When you cry out for the perfect action franchise, it's the Fast & Furious films that you long for.

But with Fate of the Furious ratcheting up the stakes to an absurd degree — and reports of conflict between the stars — the franchise needed to split with a spinoff. This time it's not just about being fast or about being furious: this time it's about Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. As soon as the trailer dropped for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, audience expectations skyrocketed. Now, the film is finally out for the world to see, and it's every bit as action-packed as the trailers promised. But what's the max speed and the gas mileage on this installment? We're running down the five best and five worst things in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.

Best: Absolutely stunning action sequences

Every installment of the Fast & Furious franchise has gotten bigger, wilder, and more action-packed than the ones before it. For anyone worried that the absence of Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto and his "family" would lead to a lull in the action, Hobbs & Shaw keeps the fists flying and the cars racing. Every single major set piece in the film feels bigger than the last, as Hobbs and Shaw punch, kick, and cuss their way through London, Ukraine, and Samoa.

Anyone familiar with David Leitch's cinematic oeuvre could have expected that the former stuntman would put together all sorts of bravura action sequences, but the co-director of John Wick easily surpasses all expectations. There's a palpable sense of glee at the heart of Hobbs & Shaw, as if Leitch and his team can't believe they get to create some of the wacky stunts they're paid to make. By the time Hobbs and Shaw have teamed up with a truly ludicrous number of Hobbs siblings to use traditional Samoan weapons and explosives to destroy a group of high-tech mercenaries, your jaw's probably been on the floor of the theater for over an hour.

Worst: No justice for Han

Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), much like Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in Fast 5, was originally introduced into the Fast & Furious franchise as an antagonist that could realistically stand a chance against Dominic Toretto and his sizable muscles. However, unlike Hobbs, who pretty quickly recognizes that Dom and his family are on the wrong side of the law but on the right side of history, Shaw commits a grievous sin: he kills Han (Sung Kang) out of vengeance for Han and the Fast family taking down Shaw's brother, Owen.

Considering how much Dom loves his family, that's a big mistake, even if Shaw somewhat redeems himself by teaming up with them in Fate of the Furious. Even if the Fast family might be willing to forgive Shaw and forget Han, many fans of the franchise never will.

When Hobbs & Shaw was announced, the hashtag #JusticeForHan went viral, which eventually prompted writer Chris Morgan to comment on the upcoming films and promise that "justice" was coming. Whether or not that's true, it certainly isn't on display in Hobbs & Shaw. In the film, Shaw is as close to a regular good guy as can be, teaming up with his MI-6 operative sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) to save the world. Hobbs & Shaw even reveals that the Eteon corporation is behind one of Shaw's past misdeeds in an obvious retcon intended to make him even more appealing and heroic. Han doesn't even get a passing reference, and anyone hoping that Shaw would be held accountable for killing of the fan favorite character — or that the spinoff would reveal that Han actually survived — will be disappointed.

Best: The buddy-cop chemistry of Hobbs and Shaw

Putting Shaw's murder of Han to the side for a moment, Statham is in fine form as the tough-as-nails former spy. The only thing that makes his low-key annoyance better is matching him up with Johnson's no-nonsense Hobbs. The film takes plenty of opportunities to showcase the two muscular men at odds and working together, and it's a delight nearly the entire time. Whether it's showcasing how the two go about their very different days in a color-coded split-screen or seeing them kick butt together, their odd couple chemistry is a hoot.

It's also an aspect of the Fast & Furious franchise that's been missing for a while. 2 Fast 2 Furious briefly presents Brian (Paul Walker) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) as conflicted, equally tough partners, but that scenario barely lasts for the length of the film before Brian clearly becomes the leader. Furthermore, Brian and Dom's brotherly rivalry in subsequent movies never really has the serious energy that you need to get invested in who's tougher or faster. However, Hobbs and Shaw spend the whole movie trading barbs, punches, and deep looks. When they finally team up for the climactic fight, it feels earned and satisfying.

Worst: Cameos that overstay their welcome

In a move no doubt disappointing to anyone who believed the rumors, Keanu Reeves does not make a cameo appearance in Hobbs & Shaw — at least not onscreen. Instead, there are plenty of other cameos for the discerning action movie fan. WWE wrestler (and Johnson's real-life cousin) Roman Reigns appears as one of the Hobbs brothers. Kevin Hart, appearing onscreen once again with his former Central Intelligence co-star Johnson, appears in the film as Dinkley, an over-eager air marshal. Dame Helen Mirren reprises her role as the Shaw matriarch, and Catastrophe star Rob Delaney appears as agent Loeb. Leitch even manages to use his time as the director of Deadpool 2 to bring in Ryan Reynolds as agent Locke, an old friend of Hobbs (sort of).

It's a delight to see so many talented comedic actors, and their appearances provide some of the funniest parts of the film. Unfortunately, they also slow the pacing down to a crawl. Many of the scenes that they appear in drag on way too long, and seemingly exist in the final cut just to showcase the A-list talent that the film attracted. As funny as Hart, Reynolds, and Delaney are, their appearances distract from the film more than they benefit it.

Best: Taking the franchise to full science fiction with Brixton

Even before the Fast & Furious films got the big budget and huge action set pieces they always deserved, the franchise was never about realism. It was about shotgun-wielding truckers, it was about jumping a car onto a boat. It was about cars as super powers. As the films have gotten bigger and wilder, it's only fair that the villains have gotten bigger and wilder too, and Idris Elba's Brixton is an unqualified success in that regard. He's pure science fiction, a cyborg with super strength, a bulletproof suit, and a computer chip in his head that lets him analyze combat as it happens.

It's absolutely phenomenal, and feels like the logical end goal for a franchise built around incredibly strong men who seemingly never lose fights. Turning the tires of the Fast & Furious franchise toward super-tech corporations and the cyborg mercenaries at their disposal is like adding NOS to a fast car, turning a good thing into a great thing. Meanwhile, Elba himself is clearly having a ball in the role, strutting through scenes like a man who knows he can outfight anyone in a one-on-one brawl. If Brixton and Eteon are a sign of the villains to come in the franchise, Hobbs & Shaw feels like a beautiful reinvigoration of the series.

Worst: How old is Hattie Shaw supposed to be?

Vanessa Kirby, who plays Hattie Shaw, is 31 years old. Hattie's brother in the film, Deckard, is played by Jason Statham, who is 52. Throughout the film, we see flashbacks to the two of them as con artist kids, and they look to be about the same age, which leads us to one very important question: how old is Hattie Shaw supposed to be? It's a fairly consistent aspect of action movies to have a massive difference in age between the male co-star and his female co-star, but even allowing for it as a common trope, it's distracting to have Hobbs & Shaw position Kirby as more or less the same age as Statham and Johnson.

There's even an ongoing flirtation between Hattie and Hobbs that ultimately leads to a kiss between the two; Johnson is 47, and while age gaps in relationships aren't necessarily uncommon, it's continually surprising that no one acknowledges that either Kirby is playing a character at least a decade older than her actual age or that Johnson and Statham are playing characters a decade younger than they actually are. Then again, Kirby also smooched 57-year-old Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Fallout, so maybe filmmakers just believe that she can play characters much older than they seem.

Best: The focus on family

Family isn't just Dominic Toretto's favorite word, it's the grounding behind every major event in the Fast & Furious universe. No matter how wild the action gets or how fast the cars go, family is what keeps the characters human. Fittingly, even though Hobbs & Shaw is a spinoff of the main series, family remains a main theme. Hobbs spends the film trying not to return to his formerly criminal clan, even going so far as to tell his daughter that she basically doesn't have any other family besides her dad. The film's climax sees Hobbs bury the hatchet with his brothers (and bury plenty of other bladed weapons into the bodies of Brixton's mercenaries) before introducing his daughter to her extended family. Shaw, meanwhile, spends the film reuniting with his MI-6 agent sister, which ultimately leads to a sweet little Shaw family reunion in the visiting room of the prison where his mother is locked up.

Keeping the focus on family is a great way to keep the spirit of the Fast & Furious franchise alive even while the film itself doesn't feature much in the way of character overlap.

Worst: Is this the future of the Fast & Furious franchise?

While the film stays pretty thematically true to the past few iterations of the Fast & Furious franchise, Hobbs & Shaw still feels removed from the main run of films. Besides a quick line of dialogue referencing Kurt Russell's Mr. Nobody and some use of NOS in the climax, the filmmakers don't really seem interested in making Hobbs & Shaw much of a Fast & Furious film. In a vacuum, that's perfectly reasonable; Leitch has said that there's plenty of room for sequels here, and keeping the focus on the two leading men and mostly new characters is a good way to keep that potential open.

Still, in terms of feeling like the same universe and the same characters we've seen before, Hobbs & Shaw could easily be an entirely different film outside of the Fast & Furious franchise. The movie doesn't feel quite like a Fast & Furious film, but it also doesn't ever feel like it's entirely not one, either. With Johnson and Diesel reportedly at each other's throats on the set of Fate of the Furious, and Hobbs & Shaw seeming more and more like a way to keep Johnson involved in the franchise without stepping on Diesel's toes, the film's uneven tone and relationship to its parent franchise feels even stranger.

Best: Dame Helen Mirren is in the film

While some of the cameos in Hobbs & Shaw drag on a touch too long, Dame Helen Mirren's appearance as Magdalene Shaw feels far, far too short. It's a source of near constant delight that Mirren, one of the greatest and most venerated actresses working today, has decided to spend her time as a trash-talking criminal in the Fast & Furious franchise. Her role in the film, like her appearance in the earlier Fate of the Furious, is a small part of the film's larger action scenes, but every line reading she gives is a delight. In Hobbs & Shaw, Magdalene is incarcerated for unknown reasons, visited occasionally by her son, Deckard, and biding her time until she feels like breaking out. With the credits scene implying a prison break for the Shaw matriarch, there's plenty of room to hope that Mirren will continue to delight in whatever future installments she appears in. Hopefully her continued appearance in the franchise eventually leads to her appearing in some of the ridiculous action set pieces that some of her co-stars get to take part in.

Worst: What year does the film even take place in?

Part of the problem that comes from making a spinoff that's only somewhat related to the larger franchise is establishing what the world of the film is like. If Hobbs & Shaw slots neatly into the Fast & Furious world, then we can draw clear conclusions. Unfortunately, a few strange details make it difficult to place Hobbs & Shaw in the same timeline as the previous films.

We last saw Hobbs & Shaw in Fate of the Furious, which established that Owen, the antagonist of Fast 6, had more or less recovered from his beating at the hands of Dom's gang. In Hobbs & Shaw, Owen isn't even mentioned by name, and an ambiguous line could imply that Deckard was forced to kill Owen on Brixton's orders... or that Brixton was like a brother to Deckard and the villain's self-serving actions before the film's story forced his "brother in arms" to kill him. Either way, it's an incredibly strange decision to not mention Deckard's brother by name in a film that's so focused on family.

Insider believes that the film takes place in the year 2022, rather than 2019, as you might assume, but there's no clear reference in the dialogue to that being the current year. What's more, Magdalene lands in prison sometime between Fate of the Furious and Hobbs & Shaw with the implication that she's already served a fair amount of her time. If the film does take place in the near future, it's an incredibly bizarre choice to never officially confirm it onscreen.