Is Hobbs & Shaw a ridiculous, over-the-top Hollywood action blockbuster? Yes. Is it using an old, beloved franchise for promotion? Also yes.
But while these can make critics and audiences alike shudder because of the seeming lack of originality and cleverness, Hobbs & Shaw isn’t hated nor is a box office blunder.
A Good Ol’ Formula
What the Fast & Furious got right ever since its first film premiered way back in 2001 is that it didn’t have to stick to sensibility.
Yes, there are clever sequences and dialogue in the movies, but the overall result is high-octane action fueled by muscle and car chases. And if the audience likes it, why try to change?
You can argue that change did happen to the Fast & Furious franchise. Some characters that go away and the places vary from one film to another. Likewise, the stakes get bigger and bigger with each new sequel.
But, once again, its formula of explosions and crazy setpieces hasn’t changed. So while the appearance of the more recent entries in the Fast & Furious franchise may not look like the first few films, its internal core remains the same — and Hobbs & Shaw continues that pattern.
Sure, it’s no longer primarily about the premium cars and the beloved main cast, but it’s still familiarly ridiculous.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Remember that Hobbs & Shaw is a spin-off film. That doesn’t usually bode well. For one, it looks like a cash grab — and it probably is to a degree. Second, it doesn’t have the proven crowd pull of the main films.
Alien vs Predator in 2004 tried to combine the two monsters, but that’d didn’t work out well. Then there’s the case of Planes, the quickly forgotten spin-off of Disney Pixar’s Cars.
What these spin-off disasters prove is that there is a risk in branching off. Unless you know what your audience wants, you’re better off sticking to what pays well. But here’s the thing: Hobbs & Shaw knows its target market.
Even as a spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw debuted at No. 1 at the US box office with $60.8 million — and it got a stunning $120 in international markets.
With a production budget of $200 million, it’s already clear the movie will reap a profit by its second week. Plus, audiences gave it an impressive “A-” CinemaScore.
The Franchise Will Live On
So what does Hobbs & Shaw reveal about the Fast & Furious franchise? It’s that people crave mayhem in a franchise they know will bring it in heaps.
The movie doesn’t have to make sense all the time. That’s not the aim. Instead, the goal is to have two beloved action stars wreak havoc for a little over two hours.
People already went to cinemas to see John and Statham. Imagine how many more will go if the next spin-off includes franchise favorites like Vin Diesel — or even John Cena who’s already slated for Fast & Furious 9 next year?
There is no scarcity of crowd-drawing action stars in Hollywood, and it seems that this franchise has them in spades. The 18-year-old franchise is perfect the way it is. It’s fully aware of its appeal — it doesn’t have to aim for an Oscar or to look more polished in terms of plot.
And with moviegoers patronizing Hobbs & Shaw, we should expect the team to delve into more spin-offs as long as they stick to the franchise’s identity.