An MI6 Black Ops team is sent to acquire a deadly virus, but the mission goes awry. The team is attacked by super-soldier Brixton (Idris Elba) and his men. Brixton is like an unstoppable Terminator—he’s a technologically-enhanced human with increased strength and abilities, high-tech weapons, and a state of the art motorcycle. He is working for the tech cult Eteon, whose mysterious leader wants to weaponize the programmable virus. One of the MI6 agents, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), manages to evade Brixton’s attack, escaping with the virus. However, Brixton makes it look like she’s gone rogue and turned on her own unit. The CIA is part of a joint task force to track down the rogue agent and secure the virus before it falls into the wrong hands and causes a worldwide pandemic. The agency has recruited DSS agent/bounty hunter Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), “the world’s best tracker”, to join the mission. However, when he arrives in London, he discovers that his sworn enemy, UKSF assassin/career criminal Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is also part of the team. Neither of the men are thrilled to see one another, and their endless verbal sparring begins almost immediately. For the sake of the planet, the men reluctantly agree to work with one another, but that doesn’t mean an end to the constant bickering, or trying to one-up one another. For better or for worse, the fate of the world is in their hands.
Hobbs & Shaw is the action-packed spin-off to the extremely popular The Fast & The Furious franchise that I never knew I needed, but now never want to live without. Not only does the film feature the same kind of fun, ridiculous, over-the-top action we’ve come to expect from the latter entries of the franchise, but it also provides a lot of interesting backstory for these beloved characters. On the surface, Hobbs and Shaw seem like very different guys. Hobbs is the Hulk-like agent who likes to go with with fists raised and smash things. Meanwhile, Shaw likes the more refined things in life…and also to blow things up. But the men also have similar issues in their lives. Hobbs had a falling out with his brother, and hasn’t seen his family or been back home to Samoa in 25 years—and his young daughter Samantha has started to ask questions about their family tree. Shaw also had some family issue—his mother (Helen Mirren) is in prison, constantly asking him to help her break out, while his sister turned her back on the family business, opting for a more legit career.
Hobbs & Shaw is for all intents and purposes a buddy action-comedy…it’s just that the two main characters are far from buddies. Johnson and Statham have such great chemistry and comedic timing. Every scene between these two had me smiling—the way these characters hate each other and constantly try to prove themselves to be superior leads to some pretty hilarious moments. And add to the mix the delightfully charming but also kick-ass Vanessa Kirby as the woman who comes between them (though not in the way you’d expect), and you’ve got a recipe for success. There is so much great non-stop action, from fights utilizing all kinds of fighting styles and techniques, to shootouts, fast car chases, gravity-defying leaps from a high-rise, and more. Idris Elba makes a great villain for these two to go up against…the “black Superman” as his character refers to himself. The film features also two amazing surprise cameos that will be sure to have viewers laughing, Helen Mirren also returns as the tough, cockney matriarch of the Shaw family, plus we get to meet extended Hobbs family.
Universal’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. The disc provides a clean, detailed picture that looks really nice no matter how fast the on-screen action. The one scene where I wished I had been watching an HDR-enhanced 4K release was early on, when Hobbs is investigating a tattoo parlor and there is this blueish purple lighting in the facility. While this looked fine on the Blu-ray, I suspect the 4K HDR would provide a richer experience with the improved color palette. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack sounds great, capturing all of the whizzing bullets, explosions, roaring engines, and more, bringing the excitement and action to life, while still providing clear dialogue.
The Blu-ray release includes both a Blu-ray disc and a DVD packed in standard HD keepcase with a slipcover. On one side of the enclosed insert is a code to redeem for an HD Movies Anywhere digital copy of the film, and on the other is a code to redeem for an additional free digital film from Universal from a selection of six titles (the list of titles changes every 4 months or so). The Blu-ray contains a large assortment of bonus material while the DVD only includes a subset of this. The bonus material consists of about 45 minutes of alternate/extended/deleted scenes (including an alternate opening), about 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews, and an audio commentary with the director. There is a convenient Play All option that makes it really simple to make your way through all the bonus content.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service), Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- HD digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere
- Bonus Digital Movie (Redemption Deadline 3/13/2020)
Additional bonus digital movie redeemable at www.upherewards.com. At the time of this review, the list of available titles includes Dead Again in Tombstone, Dracula (1931), Ratchet & Clank, The Stolen, Frankenstein (1931) and American Girl: Lea to the Rescue, but these change every 4 months or so.
Digital (for redemption deadline, see NBCUcodes.com):
Items marked with a * can only be found on the digital copy and Blu-ray disc. On the Blu-ray, there is a convenient Play All option to watch all of the bonus material back-to-back.
- Alternate Opening* (10:14)
This alternate opening doesn’t really add anything new, just rearranges the existing opening. It opens on Hobbs & Shaw refusing to work together before jumping back to one day earlier, with both men doing their morning routines and starting their investigations. The failed MI6 operation doesn’t come until afterwards. The sequence of events ultimately used for the film works a lot better than this—I’m glad it got changed.
- Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes (34:29)
Collection of 8 deleted, 12 extended and 2 alternate scenes. Play All, or select from “Brixton Opens Case and Grenade Explodes”, “Extended Hobbs and Sam in the Pancake House”, “Extended Pancake House with Locke”, “Extended Hobbs and Shaw Face Off”, “Extended Shaw Tracks Hattie”, “Hobbs Gets Handsy with Hattie”, “Extended Hobbs and Hattie Tango”, “Extended Car Chase Dialogie”, “Passport Check — Alternate”, “Extended Dinkley on the Plane”, “Maximum Weight These Parachutes Hold?”, “Dinkley in his Office — Alternate”, “Samoa Truck with Radio”, “Extended Hobbs and Hattie Talk Family”, “Jonah — Let Me Be Clear”, “My Land, My Plan”, “Extended Hobbs and Hattle at Sunset”, “Extended Hobbs and Jonah Talk”, “Extended Shaw and Hattie Talk”, “Extended Battle”, “Cliffside Walk, and “Hobbs and Locke Phone Call”.
- Johnson & Statham: Hobbs & Shaw (3:38)
The cast and filmmakers talk about how the spin-off came about, and the chemistry between the actors. Includes interviews with co-writer/producer Chris Morgan, director David Leitch, producer Hiram Garcia, and stars Dwayne Johnson (“Hobbs”/producer) and Vanessa Kirby (“Hattie”).
- Progress of a Fight Scene with Director David Leitch (4:57)
Director David Leitch breaks down some of the film’s fight scenes—from the script, to storyboards, to training the actors, executing the action, and making use of practical and visual effects. Includes lots of behind-the-scenes footage.
- Practical Action (3:43)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the film’s fight sequences, and how they help to tell the story and inform the characters. Includes behind-the-scenes footage—including footage from the fight pre-viz—and interviews with director David Leitch, second unit director/fight coordinator Chris O’Hara, second unit director Greg Rementer, and stars Dwayne Johnson, Idris Elba (“Brixton”) and Vanessa Kirby.
- The Bad Guy* (2:00)
The cast and filmmakers talk about coming up with the ultimate bad guy for the film who could take on both Hobbs and Shaw, and the casting Idris Elba, who came up with the “Black Superman” line himself. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with co-writer/producer Chris Morgan, producer Hiram Garcia, director David Leitch, and stars Dwayne Johnson, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby and Eddie Marsan (“Professor Andreiko”).
- The Sister* (3:58)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the character of Hattie, and working with actress Vanessa Kirby. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director David Leitch, second unit director Greg Rementer, second unit director/fight coordinator Chris O’Hara, and stars Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren (“Queenie”), Dwayne Johnson and Idris Elba.
- Hobbs’ Family Tree* (3:20)
The cast and filmmakers talk about creating the Hobbs family. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director David Leitch, co-writer/producer Chris Morgan, and stars Dwayne Johnson, Eliana Su’a (“Sam”), Cliff Curtis (“Jonah”), Joe “Roman Reigns” Anoai (“Mateo”), John Tui (“Kal”), Joshua Mauga (“Timo”) and Lori Pelenise Tuisano (“Sefina”).
- The Matriarch* (1:35)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the return of Helen Mirren as Queenie. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with co-writer/producer Chris Morgan, producer Hiram Garcia, director David Leitch, and stars Helen Mirren, Jason Statham (“Shaw”/producer) and Vanessa Kirby.
- New Friends (2:01)
Star/producer Dwayne Johnson talks about bringing in some of his celebrity friends for surprise cameos. Includes behind-the-scenes footage and alternate takes.
- Elevator Action* (1:59)
The filmmakers talk about creating the film’s gravity-defying elevator action sequence. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with star/producer Dwayne Johnson, producer Hiram Garcia, second unit director/fight coordinator Chris O’Hara and director David Leitch.
- Stunt Show and Tell* (3:41)
Director David Leitch goes through some of the film’s crazy, over-the-top stunt sequences, narrating storyboard, pre-viz and behind-the-scenes footage, providing an emphasis on the use of practical effects where possible.
- Keeping It in the Family: A Conversation with Roman and Dwayne* (5:02)
Stars Dwayne Johnson and Joe “Roman Reigns” Anoai (“Mateo”) talk about their long history together, and bringing their Samoan culture to the big screen. Includes behind-the-scenes footage.
- Blind Fury* (1:50)
Star/producer Dwayne Johnson explains why a scene where he bites a guy’s face brought tears to his mother’s eyes…because it was an homage to his grandfather.
- Dwayne and Hobbs: Love at First Bite* (1:36)
Star/producer Dwayne Johnson brings his French Bulldog Hobbs to set to be in the movie.
- Feature Commentary with Director David Leitch (2:16:42)
Director David Leitch provides an interesting and informative commentary throughout the film. He talks about how he got involved in the project and shares lots of behind-the-scenes stories about the production. He often points out places where scenes were deleted, extended or an alternate take was used, and how the story evolved.
Hobbs & Shaw is a wonderful addition to the Fast & Furious franchise. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham deliver on both the over-the-top action as well as the laughs. I hope this is just the first of many films of this spin-off! There is no need to have seen any of the Fast & Furious films in order to be able to fully enjoy this film, but those who have will get some interesting backstory on some of the characters they’re already familiar with. Universal’s Blu-ray looks and sounds great and contains a huge assortment of bonus material. This is a Must Own for fans of the franchise, and highly recommended for anyone looking for a fun buddy action/comedy.