No matter how plugged in you are, we all have the pop culture phenomena that have just passed us by. For me, the Fast & Furious franchise is one. I've got nothing against tricked-out vehicles of any kind, PG-13 explosion-fests, or "the family," so this isn't something I've ignored on purpose. Even if I wanted to catch up, I'd once thought, there are just too many movies to track down and watch. But at a press screening last week, I was given the chance to break my unintentional streak with
that re-teams the odd couple played by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham for a new mission. And while I wasn't Hobbs & Shaw, the Fast & Furious spinoff lost, per se, I did leave the theater with a lot of questions about what I'd just seen and what it — if anything — it means to the series at large.
Full disclosure: I've read a synopsis or two of a few Fast films — probably
The Fate of the Furious most closely, to learn how and why Hobbs and Shaw worked together in the first place. But I can promise you on a full year's worth of Johnson's "cheat day" meals that I've never watched one of them in anything other than passing. Now that I've started my Fast & Furious journey at the wrong end, here's what I want to know, with major spoilers ahead: 1 Is Jason Statham Playing His 'Spy' Character?
I suppose, in a sense, he always is, since Rick Ford from the 2015 Melissa McCarthy comedy is basically a parody of every tough guy Statham's ever portrayed. This is not a bad thing.
2 Do These People Have Jobs? What Are They?
Hobbs says he's "a cop," but he also says he prefers "to work alone." Are cops even allowed to do that? And what's the difference between his job and Shaw's? They appear to have the same exact duties and take orders from literally no one.
3 How Many Nut Shots Can There Be In One Two-Hour Movie?
I think I'm about to find out.
To clarify: there's nothing wrong with this time-honored tradition of PG-13 action movies. It's what I expected, frankly.
4 What's A 9-Year-Old Doing Reading 'Old Man & The Sea'? Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Hobbs's daughter is doing a book report on a novel most of us didn't get to the chance to resent until high school. Is she a genius? Will she be the brains of the operation in the
Fast 18? 5 Why Is Helen Mirren In Jail?
I mean, I'm sure she deserved it, but I didn't know she could be caught. She's got her jewels and her bold lip, through, so it seems like she's handling it well.
6 Did *You All* Know Ryan Reynolds Was Going To Be In This? Keith Tsuji/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
By the gasps in the theater, I assume his CIA agent Locke is a new character, despite claiming over and over again to be the best friend of his hero, Lucas Rebecca Hobbs.
7 Do Rob Delaney & Ryan Reynolds Come As A Package Deal These Days? Jeff Spicer/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Deadpool 2 costar — he played Peter, who perished violently along with the rest of the X-Force — pops up as another CIA agent. He's the one tasked to bring Shaw onto the operation, and while he and Reynolds don't technically share the screen, they do speak on the phone. 8 What's The Turtleneck Budget On These Movies?
Shaw is wearing one that's thick enough to function as a neck brace. Are they functional? Is this his armor? Or is he just silently protesting Hobbs's deep v-necks?
9 Seriously, WHAT ARE THEIR JOBS?
Consultants? All-purpose good guys? Battle Uber drivers? I'm going to need to see an official description.
10 Is Idris Elba Really Playing A Perfect Human Specimen?
Spot on, casting department. The
Luther star is the guy you hire when you need to visually represent the pursuit of human excellence. 11 Why Didn't The Virus Kill Hattie Immediately?
Vanessa Kirby's Hattie, M16 agent and sister to Shaw, injects herself with the virus Brixton (Elba) wants, which supposedly
melts your internal organs. It seems to have a timer on it, for reasons never fully explained. 12 If This Weren't A Spinoff, How Many Car Chases Would There Have Been By Now?
The first real one doesn't happen until about 25-30 minutes in. Don't leave and go ask for a refund — the few we do get are on the level you expect. My soul briefly left my body when Elba slid underneath a moving bus while on a motorcycle.
13 Are These Movies Science Fiction Now?
Have they always been?? We're talking super-soldiers and cheating death. Didn't this whole thing start in a chop shop?
14 What's The Point Of That Sound Wave Room?
When Brixton reports to the anonymous director of Eteon, the operation that wants to upgrade humanity by wiping it out, he does so in a
Black Mirror-type vestibule where the sound waves of the director's altered voice are projected onto the walls. For what, the aesthetic? Seems excessive. 15 How Many Dick Jokes Can There Be In One Two-Hour Movie?
I stopped counting but also laughed at every single one. We're talking base-level boy fighting, and it's delightful.
16 Are They Really Talking About This Top-Secret Mission On A Commercial Flight?
Keep in mind that they're also international fugitives by this scene and have already ditched their carefully crafted disguises. Being overheard by the air marshal is the least of their concerns.
17 Can You Imagine Sitting Next To The Rock In Coach?
You wouldn't get the armrest, but otherwise, it would probably be a lovely, life-affirming experience, including several motivational speeches about everything you can achieve and how proud he is of you.
18 Has Hobbs Always Referred To Himself As "The Mountain"?
Shaw doesn't like that Hobbs is hitting it off with Hattie, which Hobbs enjoys
immensely. He informs Shaw that he'll let her "climb this mountain" if she wants to, and I need to know if this fitting euphemism is new.
Also, who's his daughter's mom? She scaled that mountain first, apparently.
19 Are There Movies That Kevin Hart Isn't In?
Not that I've seen.
In this, he pops up as the aforementioned air marshal, who obviously overhears Hobbs and Shaw bickering because they're talking
so damn loud and later helps them get out to Samoa to stage their last stand against Eteon. 20 Why Doesn't This Hot Girl Crime Gang Get Their Own Spinoff?
Eiza Gonzalez shows up briefly as Margarita, the leader of a gang of women criminals who steal from Russian mobsters. I want to know
everything about her. 21 Do Hobbs & Shaw Secretly Love Each Other, Though?
There's too much pigtail-pulling for this not to be true. Someday, they'll admit it and get their own set of matching tattoos.
22 How Did Eteon Get To Brixton After He Was Shot?
We find out that Brixton was mechanized after Shaw shot him in the head, but how did Eteon get to him? Was he already dead when they did? Does it matter
at all? 23 Why Is All Of Eteon's Tech *Except* The Director's Voice Changer State Of The Art?
The more Brixton communicates with the director, the more often it slips. Seems like Locke isn't who he says he is, and that they might want to get IT in to take a look at that thing.
24 Am I Supposed To Know That Hobb's Dad Was A Jerk?
The whole last third of the movie takes place in Samoa, which is awesome and beautiful and adds some culture to the proceedings. Hobbs is apparently estranged from his family, but it sounds like it was all his dad's fault.
25 More Of A Statement: I Still Don't Understand What This Has To Do With Cars
I guess we've moved
way beyond that at this point.
Side note: are there Fast fans out there who get together to talk about the good ol' days and petition for the franchise to get back to basics or does that only happen in literally every other fandom?
26 How Can These Guys Drive Like That In Flip Flops?
The guys from Hobbs's hometown play a key role in
bringing down a helicopter, doing all kinds of trick driving in inappropriate footwear — a skill you have to develop if you live on the islands, apparently. 27 Why Didn't Brixton Realize He Had A Shutdown Button?
The director is able to put Brixton to sleep easily, which he might have considered in all his bragging about being half-machine. Pro: you're almost indestructible. Con: anybody with the kill switch can turn you off and turn you back on again.
28 Can Hattie Stay?
I realize I don't know what I'm talking about, but she fits right in! And I want her and Hobbs to go on a date in the rom-com spinoff I'm already pitching!
29 Is Ryan Reynolds The New Big Bad?
I'm 99.99999% sure that's him on the other end of those communications with Brixton, and those post-credits scenes are super sketch. Not to mention I'm pretty sure you've got to be a super-soldier to really be able to stab a guy with a brick.
30 Is Vin Diesel Even Gonna See This One? Amy Sussman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
the feud continue? real Fast & Furious
All of this is to say: you really don't need to be informed at all to enjoy all the ridiculous action of
Hobbs & Shaw. So consider this your entry point, fellow newbies.