Trailer Breakdown: “Hobbs & Shaw”

Well I had originally planned on posting this last night to coincide with the trailers actual release. However technical difficulties prevented that, but better late than never I guess.

Look…I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Like many I feel it’s an overblown series that has overstayed its welcome. BUT…even I can admit two of its most entertaining characters have become Dwayne Johnsons’ Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw. They made a great pairing in “The Fate of the Furious” so it was only a matter of time before these two got their own spinoff and, well, here it is. Universal released the first trailer for “Hobbs & Shaw” this morning which puts the two characters front and center for their own adventure against a new enemy. This could be an epic action flop or become further proof that, for whatever reason, the “Fast & Furious” franchise is still as marketable as ever. So what does this new trailer tell us about the film? Let’s dig in. This is my breakdown of the first trailer for “Hobbs & Shaw”.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

The trailer starts off strong presenting us with the villain who will bring the two protagonists together to *exhales* save the world. God, am I the only one who feels like this franchise is veering WAY to much into superhero territory? What happened to the good old harmless franchise about car racing…*exhales again*…I digress. As you’ll soon read getting away from the cars might not be that big of a deal. Anyway, this film’s main villain will be Brixton, a terrorist played by Idris Elba who considers himself a “necessary shock to the system”. A few things to note, Brixton is shown in front of what appears to be a panel of scientists likely having something to do with his physical enhancements and we see him undergo some sort of odd procedure that appears to make him stronger and more durable. Other than that only real character development he receives in the trailer is a snapshot that shows us he is an M16 Taskforce Black operative likely gone rogue. He also calls himself an example of “human evolutionary change” and this is where the superhero-like elements come into play. He claims to be bullet-proof and shows his new strength by breaking into an armored vehicle, assaulting several armed guards in the process before outright declaring himself the “bad guy”. I’m serious he uses the words “bad guy” to introduce himself just in case we didn’t get the point.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

We don’t see what Brixton is after but it’s implied that he obtains it and that it’s a pretty big deal. A new character, Hattie Shaw, played by Vanessa Kirby, is present for the theft but escapes. She is an MI6 agent and also happens to be Deckard Shaw’s sister. She informs her superiors that her mission was compromised and that they are going to need help to recover whatever was stolen. According to the cast list Hattie Shaw won’t be the only sibling to enter the picture. Dwayne Johnson’s fellow wrestling legend Roman Reigns is also on the cast list to play Luke Hobbs’ brother, however he does not appear in the trailer. This implies that we will be exploring more of these characters’ backstories throughout this film. We already know some of Shaw’s lineage as his mother and brother were featured heavily in past films but this is the first time we’re leaning of a sister which might be by design as I’m sure she’d want to distance herself from her evil siblings if she is with MI6. Her going to Deckard is probably a last resort. Knowing her brother’s skills she’ll go to him because she knows what he is capable of. It would serve as a convincing way to justify Shaw being part of the mission.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

Next we get shots of both Hobbs and Shaw in their normal lives including their morning routines. Considering that this movie supposedly takes place two years after “Fate of the Furious” it makes sense they have settled back into reality until now. An agent provides a voiceover saying they need the “best trackers in the business” which he identifies as Hobbs and Shaw. Interesting little detail here. Hobbs and Shaw are shown in two different lights…literally. Hobbs is introduced in a blue-lighted room while Shaw is shown in a red club-like setting. To me this is a not-so-subtle nod at the overarching theme of the film that these two men are very different peopel forced to work together toward a common goal. With Hobbs being a “career lawman”, blue is usually used to represent police and is a more welcoming and popular color. Meanwhile Shaw works outside the law and red is more aggressive. Both character shoot off one-liners to introduce themselves reminding us why, for better or worse, we love these two personalities. It also gives us a neat sneak peek at the action we’ll see from this pair over the course of the movie reminding us of their style and abilities.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

The two men are told they will have to work together to beat Brixton, which doesn’t go over well. Hobbs throws a folding chair at the glass (a nod to Johnson’s time as a wrestler) and the two engage in the same kind of banter they began in “Fate of the Furious”. I will say bleeping out the “hole” in asshole using microphone feedback for the sake of the trailer’s green band rating is clever if unoriginal and allows for the line to still be in the trailer to drive home their love-hate relationship. Clearly there is still some animosity between the two from “Fate” so what we have here folks is an action packed mismatched couple type of film that will take these two characters’ testosterone driven rivalry from just being a side joke to pretty much being the basis of the entire film…yay…I guess. Look I know I’m giving this film a lot of crap already just because I think the “Fast and Furious” franchise is worn out but in all honesty if anyone can pull of this macho man dick swinging contest it’ll be these modern action icons so I think there could be potential if they do it right.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

Johnson and Statham get their name cards a “Why Can’t We Be Friends” plays over action sequences featuring their characters. Obviously the song is fitting of the mismatched duo that will take center stage in this movie. What’s worth noting is that “Hobbs & Shaw” looks like it will focus less on the cars and much more on the two leads which will certainly help define it apart from the rest of the franchise. While the “Fast & Furious” franchise has shifted away from the racing aspect it has always balanced characters and vehicles as the main focus of the film to the point where the cars sometimes become actual characters of sorts in the movie. “Hobbs & Shaw” looks like it will be a huge departure from that as the only real stylish car we see in the trailer is Shaw’s blue McLaren 720S and that seems more to fit Shaw’s style and personality than anything else. There are some other nice looking vehicles in the trailer, but this is the only one that is the center of any sort of attention. In fact the massive truck that Hobbs drives through vehicles (the one shown above) is more prominent than even the McLaren and fits more with Hobbs’ personality and style.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

And that brings me to what I believe is the overarching theme of both this trailer and the film in general, two character who are extremely different having to work together. This idea is thrown in our faces several times throughout the trailer. The two different colors used to introduce the characters, the fact that Shaw drives a stylish McLaren and Hobbs uses more badass and larger vehicles. And, most of all, a direct reference to these different approaches by Shaw himself right about at the minute-and-a-half mark when he explains that the mission requires stealth only for Hobbs to shake it off and explain that he has saved the world three times before (with the rest of the “F&F” crew) overlaid with shots of him destroying cars in style with the aforementioned truck. Shaw is going to be presented as more calm, stylish and stealthy while Hobbs is going to be the brawn that just smashes through things like the Hulk to get the job done. Like I said before this is a match that COULD actually work and I think the two actors can make it convincing.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

The turning point seems to come when we see both men actually taking on Brixton who gets the upper hand on both of them. The two men are clearly overpowered and seem shocked by their inability to take Brixton on. It looks to me like this film will follow the basic superhero formula, which honestly can be adapted to any action movie, where the heroes hunt down and locate their pray only to be defeated and have to rework their plan, eventually learning how to help each other and find the upper hand against a superior foe. Brixton looks like he will be a true badass of a character and honestly the idea of seeing Idris Elba take on Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in combat is something I never knew I wanted until now.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

As the trailer comes to a close we see a flurry of out of context action scenes that serve to show us the mayhem this movie is going to bring. Brixton promise a war and we get an AWESOME looking ATV scene where the vehicle bursts from a building and does a 360 blocking helicopter bullets in the process. I did say earlier that this movie looks like it’s putting the characters before the vehicles but obviously it’s still going to maintain some of the ridiculous style this franchise has been known for. You can’t COMPLETELY ditch the overreaching physics and car stunts otherwise it wouldn’t be a “Fast & Furious” movie now would it? But it does look like there will be less attention on the style of the vehicles and more on the function of those vehicles for a change. Getting back to the montage, these scenes of explosions and chaos only serve to give the viewers a little taste of the action this movie promises to provide and nothing more. Helicopters shooting at buildings, a convoy headed towards what appears to be some kind of nuclear plant…it’s all flair that leaves enough to the imagination so we can fill in the blanks without being spoon-fed the story. The problem is it all also promises a very basis action product on the surface and it makes me hope that there’s much more substance than just what this montage of mayhem provides us. I love action movies, but I also don’t want to see the same formula just with a new coat of paint. I hope this movie will give us something different and, so far, I’m intrigued because the absence of fashionable cars and the mismatched couple concept alone are enough to at least give me hope.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

Anyways, after the montage we see Brixton breaking into a building where Hobbs, and the two Shaw siblings are located. The building looks similar to the area where Shaw and Hobbs called each other assholes earlier in the trailer so I assume this is early in the film. Brixton kidnaps Shaw’s sister, jumping out a building to escape. I think this is an important moment because I think Brixton NEEDS Hattie Shaw to use whatever he stole earlier in the trailer. She was present when he stole the item after all, and in this moment we see him look down at someone and say “remember me” and I assume he’s talking to Hattie. I don’t think this is simply something to irritate Hobbs and Shaw. I don’t even think the two have begun their mission yet at this point in the film. I think Brixton kidnaps Shaw’s sister to use her to operate whatever device or compound he stole and this forces Hobbs and Shaw to work together to get her back and stop Brixton. Obviously this would irritate Shaw and motivate him to go after Brixton so this could be the moment that the two agree they are going to do this together. This is further enforced by a getaway scene shown in the montages that has Hobbs and the Shaws in the McLaren which I assume takes place later in the film.

Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

The ending of the trailer is pure gold in my eyes and, AGAIN, proof that this film’s plot will be driven heavily by what sets these guys apart. After Brixton and his men escape Hobbs literally jumps out of the building and chases down Brixton’s men by running down the building while Shaw simply takes the elevator and mocks Hobbs as he is making it down just as fast without necessarily risking his well being. It’s a funny moment and to me it shows the real potential these two actors have to provide a funny yet engaging product. After the title card we learn that at one point the two heroes will be captured by Brixton because we see he has them chained together to a device that produces electric shocks. Again showing their separate styles, Hobbs antagonizes Brixton and receives a shock leading Shaw, who is also shocked, to comically comment on Hobbs’ big mouth. It leaves viewers on a high note as we see that even at their lowest the two titular characters will continue to have a tongue and cheek approach to their mission.

So in conclusion I’m mixed about this movie. The idea alone kind of irritates me because it’s pure blockbuster bait to try and cash in on the “Fast & Furious” name without actually producing another “Fast & Furious” movie. But, I’m (obviously) going to give it a chance and I hope that what I like about this trailer shines more than what I dislike. I appreciate its sense of humor and how the film seems to be focuses on the contrast between Hobbs and Shaw with two capable actors that can pull off the humor and personalities well. Johnson and Statham worked off each other well in “Fate of the Furious” even if they didn’t have quality material to work with to sell it. If the two can find the right balance this movie might just work and Idris Elba being the villain only makes this more intriguing. However I am worried that “Hobbs & Shaw” is going to lean on too many clichés for my liking. The action and establishing shots presented in the montages all look like they are ripped right out of every other “Fast & Furious” entry or any number of action staples. For me this trailer is a fun sneak peek at what we can expect, but it doesn’t really promise enough to get me truly excited. We’ll have to see what “Hobbs & Shaw” really has in store for us when the film hits theaters on August 2.

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