Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw – The Comedy of Violence (Spoiler-Free)

The Fast and the Furious franchise gives us a spin-off focused on the odd-couple of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Shaw.


DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Actor Formerly Known as The Rock” Johnson) gets called in by his old “friend” Locke (Ryan Reynolds) to catch a virus-infected MI6 agent named Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby). However, Hattie is the sister of Hobbs’s former rival, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who also joins the hunt. The three are soon on the run from the forces of evil organization Eteon and Shaw’s former partner Brixton Lore (Idris Freaking Elba), a literal superhuman. 

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I’m amazed that this picture doesn’t explode from awesome.


Okay, so I’m gonna have to give a little disclosure here: I started off kind of cold towards the Fast and the Furious films. I didn’t really care for the first two and I didn’t watch the others until part 6 came out, only to find out that parts 4-6 are freaking awesome. They’re basically just loose plot threads built around awesome action set pieces of continually increasing ridiculousness and cast sizes. Physics is more of a suggestion in the world of Fast and the Furious now and the main characters are more immortal than John McClane, but it’s just so fun to watch them fight a tank or jump cars between skyscrapers. The name of the game is “just don’t think about it and enjoy the show.” 

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I love how often I can re-use this image.

This movie took it a step further.  While many of the previous films had hints of self-awareness, this one knows exactly what the audience is likely there to see and plays it up perfectly. Hobbs and Shaw is basically just a slapstick comedy film where some of the gags just happen to be giant explosions and car stunts. I notice, looking over Rotten Tomatoes, that many of the people who actually get paid to review films consider this a step down from the over-the-top action entries that the franchise has produced lately. I go in the exact opposite direction and praise the series for not just trying to make this the same as the main films. I admit it’s subjective, but I honestly liked this film as much as any of the other ones. Probably more. 

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Vanessa Kirby definitely helped.

At its core, I think this movie works for the same reason that I think the John Wick films work: The comic potential of violence. Humor is often derived from giving us an outlet for something that’s uncomfortable or repulsive by giving us a distance from the subject and subverting our expectations. A person getting shot in the face is horrifying. A coyote getting blown up by a rocket is hilarious. Some people say comedy = tragedy + time; I say comedy = horror + distance. Whereas John Wick plays out killing sequences with the same sense of timing as a Buster Keaton or a Jackie Chan film (even having Buster Keaton movies playing at the beginning of the second and third films to show respect), this movie is more akin to a Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon. The rivalry between them is hilarious, but when they work together to humiliate a mutual enemy, it’s even better. 

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If you can’t see them doing “Rabbit Season/Duck Season,” you aren’t trying.

The chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham isn’t exactly flawless, but it’s not supposed to be. They’re two very different kinds of action heroes that clash in exactly the way that their characters do: Hobbs is all the power, Shaw is all the technique. The movie plays that up as much as possible by literally presenting them side-by-side in split-screen during the opening. It’s a little cliche, but they really use it to set the tone for this film and I think it works. The odd-couple dialogue and petty pranks between them is amusing and manages to keep the mood light between the giant action set pieces. However, when they have another outlet, typically the villain, it’s even funnier, and usually happens in the middle of an action set-piece.

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Yes, the film 100% tries to play this straight. 

Idris Elba decided to bring his B+ game to this film, which is more than most actors would to a role where he unironically calls himself Black Superman. He’s so perfectly cliche that his first line in the movie is to say he’s the “Bad Guy.” It’s just so fun to watch as he does all of the things that even this franchise recognizes that normal humans can’t do, and looks amazing doing them. You can genuinely imagine that he’s someone who can easily overpower either Hobbs or Shaw, because he’s stronger than the former and his technique is better than the latter.

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He also is a special kind of crazy.

The action in the film is, even by this franchise’s standards, ridiculous. There’s a scene that I believe is exploding for a solid 7 minutes, just explosion after explosion and it’s freaking awesome.

Also, the theme is family and, while it’s a little more literal in this one than in the other Fast and the Furious movies, it still feels like it’s keeping an important part of the series.

Overall, I loved this movie. It’s dumb as hell, but it’s the right kind of dumb as hell. Also, I’m convinced Ryan Reynolds took this role just so he could make a joke about some of the stuff he does when he plays Deadpool again. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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48) Middle Ground (The Wire)

The Wire exposes the vices of city of Baltimore season by season. First season, they did the drug trade, second season, they did the seaport system, and in the third season, they turned to government bureaucracy, where the real evil lies.

It is surprisingly difficult to find a cast photo of this show. Is that racist?

The characters on The Wire were the key to the show’s success, but the long and intricately interweaving plotlines were the secret to its longevity. The most popular characters of this season, and of the entire show, are Omar (Michael K. Williams), a privately tender, gay stick-up man known for robbing drug dealers and avoiding innocent bystanders, and Stringer Bell (Idris “GIVE HIM EVERY ROLE” Elba), a drug kingpin and expert economist trying to make his organization a little bit more legitimate. Mostly, Stringer starts trying to reduce the number of murders committed by his organization (murders get the police, drug deals get passed over). He also begins to work heavily with politicians in order to support his building project, which will both provide for easy laundering, and also a path towards a legitimate business. At the same time, Stringer is dealing with the return of the former head of the organization, Avon (Wood Harris), who is less concerned with trying to maintain a legitimate front, and more concerned with his reputation.

Every. Role.

In this season, Omar and Brother Mouzone (Michael Potts)(Mouzone means “judicious” in Arabic), a hitman and drug enforcer from New York who always speaks eloquently and wears a suit, have both had intense dealings with Stringer, who finally attempts to force Omar and Mouzone to kill each other. After a brief confrontation, Mouzone surprises everyone by suggesting that he and Omar instead kill Stringer. After confronting Stringer’s gang, Mouzone then proceeds to give Avon a choice: Stringer’s location, or Avon’s reputation. Avon chooses to give up the former.

This is one of the scariest men on TV.


This episode is as intense as television can normally get. Even the parts that don’t have to deal directly with Omar, Mouzone and Stringer are extremely tense, featuring the Mayor (Aidan Gillen) dealing with Hamsterdam, a series of drug-safe zones throughout Baltimore, and the major case unit failing to curb the extremely high crime rate in the city, despite pressure from the local government. In the end, every story involves someone trying to reach a middle-ground, and many are reached in the episode. The necessity of compromise is part of politics, because otherwise nothing gets done (though, of course, if your position is that you want nothing to get done, then you have no motive to compromise). This episode shows both the traditional political compromise of ideals and the compromise of economic triage, whereby you just give up and let some things die. The last middle ground, however, is in-between Mouzone and Omar, which is where Stringer finds himself, unarmed, at the end of the episode. Stringer pleas for his life, and claims that he has finally gone completely straight, but, in the end, he tells them there is nothing he can say to stop them. Then, Mouzone and Omar fire, and walk away without a word, leaving Stringer dead next to the sign for his prized building project.

It takes both of them to equal one Stringer Bell.


In the end, this episode highlights one of the more difficult parts of government: It’s composed of, and policed by, people. And one of the worst parts of being a person is: Even when you want to change for the better, the means by which you effect that change may destroy everything you want to save. Sometimes, you can only advance through losing a little in the process.

PREVIOUS – 49: Cheers

NEXT – 47: Psych

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.