Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw: 'Downshift your brain into neutral'
Damon Smith watches Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham flexing their muscles in (un)friendly rivalry to take down Idris Elba's arch villain in the turbo-charged action sequel Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw
FILMED on location in London and Glasgow, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is a deliriously overblown spin-off from the turbo-charged action franchise, which invites Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham to re-flex their muscles as (un)friendly comrades in a war against cyber-terrorism.
When the leading men first meet in a stand-off played for laughs, one snarls: "We've been down this road. It's a total waste of time."
There's some truth so his withering assessment.
Scriptwriters Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce appropriate spare parts from earlier pictures, including Dame Helen Mirren as Shaw's jailbird mother, and repeatedly abandon the laws of physics to deliver spectacular set-pieces of automotive mayhem on a giddily grand scale.
It's familiar, testosterone-fuelled nonsense from pyrotechnic-laden start to chest-beating finish laced with seductive sass courtesy of Vanessa Kirby as Statham's ballsy on-screen sister.
Downshift your brain into neutral and director David Leitch delivers a full tank of slam-bang thrills.
Surprises are fleeting – uncredited cameos, three additional scenes in the end credits – and the identity of the spin-off's shadowy antagonist is intentionally masked to add fuel to the 10th and 11th instalments of the main series, which shift into top gear in summer 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Crack MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Kirby) locates a stolen consignment of chemical compound CT-17 – codename Snowflake – which will liquefy the internal organs of billions of innocent victims if released into the atmosphere.
Cyber-genetic assassin Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), who boastfully describes himself as "black Superman", attempts to steal the contagion and Hattie's only option is to inject herself.
She has 72 hours before micro-capsules in her bloodstream release Snowflake and trigger a global extinction.
Her brother, former British Special Forces operative Deckard Shaw (Statham), races to the rescue.
Unfortunately for him, the CIA recruits his sparring partner, federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson), to track down Hattie.
The bickering brutes begrudgingly join forces to protect Hattie from Brixton, who has history with Shaw.
"Three years ago, I put a bullet in his brain," confides the London hard man.
"Great, so we're being chased by the Terminator!" deadpans Hobbs.
Rubber burns as Hobbs and Shaw reduce swathes of property to rubble in the name of humanity's survival, aided by alluring arms dealer Madame M (Eiza Gonzalez).
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw delivers all four elements of its title with maximum macho posturing and minimum narrative outlay.
Johnson and Statham play up their swaggering screen personas, the latter referencing his role in the 2003 remake of a Michael Caine classic when he nods to a green Mini in his garage: "From a job we did once in Italy."
Elba hungrily chews scenery as the bionic bad guy with a radical solution to overpopulation.
Adrenaline-pumping stunts are audacious and should rev the engines of the fanbase.
HOBBS & SHAW (12A, 136 mins) Action/Thriller/Comedy/Romance. Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba, Eiza Gonzalez, Dame Helen Mirren. Director: David Leitch.