A last-minute change of plans saw me and a friend park our bums on seats earlier this week for Hobbs & Shaw (Cert 12A, 136 mins), a standalone, spin-off film from the interminable Fast & Furious cars-and-criminal-capers franchise.

I’m not a huge fan of the FAF films, to be honest; they’re normally the kind of things I’d burn rubber to get away from.

However, this vehicle for Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and self-deprecating ‘ardman Jason Statham proved surprisingly entertaining to roll along with.

As the titular characters, Luke Hobbs (The Rock) and Deckard Shaw (Statham) are forced to team up in search of Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby); an agent on the run from the film’s scenery-chewing villain, Brixton Lore (Idris Elba).

There’s much fuss made over a deadly supervirus that the good and bad guys alike are desperate to control, leading to some globetrotting shenanigans and scraps.

That’s pretty much the plot right there, as the need to find the Snowflake virus and then protect and work with Hattie is something of a McGuffin; a deliberate misdirect that takes a back seat to the real driving force of the film – the Hobbs and Shaw dynamic.

The two main leads spark off each other here with great effect, with each playing to their very different natural charisma as their characters are forced to work together.

With the film playing off the duo’s mutual dislike of each other, there’s a lot of fun to be had from the frequently outlandish scenarios Hobbs and Shaw find themselves in, and how they each react to them, with the pair constantly trying to outdo the other.

In the background, there’s some reliable support from the likes of Helen Mirren and the mighty Elba, although his role and character here as a cybernetic supervillain isn’t exactly a pole position performance.

However, who knew that the FAF films could milk the formula so successfully by spinning things off in a different direction?

In taking a very different approach to the often po-faced FAF films, Hobbs and Shaw have successfully steered the franchise’s worldbuilding and lore towards a hit.

Sure, the film is far from perfect, but as someone who normally accelerates away from over the top, laddish nonsense, I still found plenty to enjoy here, thanks to the star turns at the heart of the film.

  • Verdict: 8/10