This high-spirited summer action extravaganza delivers precisely what it promises: two great personalities, great stunts, and a little something extra. Hobbs & Shaw -- or, fully titled, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw -- narrows its focus to the most charismatic, and funniest, of the series' characters. Thus, it gets rid of the baggage of the worst entries in the franchise, including aggressive braggadocio, dimwitted writing, and a huge cast of half-baked characters that were stretched too thin. Now it's just Johnson and Statham, and they're perfectly matched, with both taking an appealingly tongue-in-cheek approach to their on-screen heroics.
The earlier Fast & Furious movies constantly, annoyingly reminded us of their so-called coolness; Hobbs and Shaw simply are cool. Plus, Elba makes a terrific bad guy, and Kirby is perhaps the most appealing woman in the entire series: She's strong, skilled, and smart and definitely has her own personality. Of course, the movie includes at least four huge action scenes that effortlessly elicit "whoas" and "wows" (especially one that takes place on the side of a skyscraper), as well as the usual "preparation" montages. But while the earlier movies frequently reiterated their theme of family through dialogue, Hobbs & Shaw manages to do it emotionally and organically, through character and interaction. Technically a spin-off, the movie ranks well above most of the series' "official" entries (though it's arguably the equal of series bests Fast Five and Furious 7).