In a couple of days we’ll be inundated with fresh glimpses of this year’s biggest movies courtesy of the annual Super Bowl trailer (opens in new tab) deluge. But first off the starting grid is Fast and Furious spin-off Hobbs and Shaw, which sees Dwayne Johnson’s one man cavalry Hobbs reluctantly buddy up with best frenemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to take down Idris Elba’s troublemaking merc Brixton.
The Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw trailer (opens in new tab) (above), as expected, is nuts dropping a bombshell in the opening seconds (Brixton is a bulletproof “superhuman”?!) and features all the OTT action you’d expect from a series which recently featured muscle cars battling a nuclear submarine. Naturally, we have questions. Lots of them. So we put them to Chris Morgan, the sole writer of every Fast film since 2006’s Tokyo Drift, to make sense of the madness.
1. Is Brixton... superpowered?
Despite being set in the ‘real world', the Fast and Furious movies threw the laws of physics out the window years ago. But is Hobbs and Shaw the film where F&F finally takes on superhero cinema at its own game? It certainly seems that way, with Brixton monologuing that he is “human evolutionary change”, but Brixton’s no X-Man according to Morgan.
“We kept it just this side of sci-fi,” says the writer. “Brixton plays a future tech mercenary, using the latest dark tech. So his suit is light but it’s bulletproof. He is slightly genetically augmented. Nothing that is so far beyond the realm that it would lead into sci-fi."
“I’ll give you the reason why we went there,” Morgan adds. “There’s a really crucial moment in the trailer where Brixton steps up, and he punches Hobbs, and Hobbs goes flying and smashes into a car. These two guys are such alpha heroes. We wanted someone to step up as our villain that could be an equal and opposite to them. In fact, probably stronger than them, which would force these guys to have to work together to beat him.”
2. What is Task Force Black - and did Shaw and Brixton cross paths during their clandestine pasts?
During a brief insert we learn that Brixton was not only presumed dead (a pre-requisite for all blockbuster villains), but that he was formerly a member of a covert group called Task Force Black.
Given that Shaw has his own black ops history from his time in the British military, is it possible the two encountered each other, or even fought shoulder to shoulder in another life? “It is possible!” Laughs a cagey Morgan. “Anything is possible in the Fast universe!” We’ll take that as a definitely… maybe.
3. Did Idris Elba play Brixton in a deleted Fast 7 post credits scene?
F&F die hards had their collective minds blown when Fast and Furious 7 (opens in new tab) director James Wan tweeted in December that a post-credits sting featuring Idris Elba was shot for Fast 7, before the end of the film was retooled following the death of series stalwart Paul Walker.
Chris Morgan confirms that, yes, the scene does exist, but that Elba wasn’t playing Brixton, and he won’t be pinned down on who Elba was playing. “I can’t really give that out! We did have him in a little bit of a tease for something else, until the events with Paul ended up changing how we were going to end the film. We knew we wanted to work with Idris for quite a while. When we got the chance to make this film, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. So that [Fast 7 sting] was a different thing that was going to be a little bit of a tease.”
A tease for Fast and Furious 8 (opens in new tab)? “Potentially, yeah.” says Morgan, elusively. “Every time we do one of these films we write like five or six of those tags and I’m like, ‘Ooh, remember that one we were going to do at the end of 4? What if we did that here?’ That is part of the fun of being able to work on a franchise that’s been going on for so long. All of these ideas, you find different ways to use them, or something that was a cool idea before suddenly becomes a hugely important connecting piece.”
4. Why are we getting and Fast and Furious spin-off movie now?
It took eight core entries for the Fast and Furious team to take a punt on a spin-off, why now? “The thing that informs the movie the most is that prison scene from Fast 8,” Morgan explains. “Specifically the moment where Dwayne and Jason are kept apart from each other in those cells, and just riffing and insulting each other. The day we were filming that, we were like, ‘Oh my God… yes!’ We’d been talking about and doing a spin-off in the last couple of movies with the studio.
"The second we rolled camera on that, we were like, ‘It’s time. These guys are too fun together.’ And they’re the perfect odd couple. Hobbs is this big, unstoppable bull who smashes through everything. Shaw is a very calculated, precise kind of person. Smashing their styles together is just irresistible.”
5. Is Hobbs and Shaw taking a page out of the Deadpool playbook?
With Deadpool 2 (opens in new tab) director David Leitch at the helm, the trailer packed with irreverent, self-aware gags (“There we are, it’s a bad guy speech”) and that hilariously on the nose choice of song (“Why can’t we be friends?”), it seems like Hobbs and Shaw could be to F&F what Deadpool is to the X-Men. But Chris Morgan claims this isn’t the Fast and Furious Rib Tickler.
“One of the things we wanted to do was keep the feel and emotional character grounding that Fast and Furious had, and the big spectacle action. But also to bring in its own flavour as well,” he explains. “The sense of humour is a little bit pumped up here, for sure, because these guys will bounce off each other. You literally can’t stop them. But it is not a comedy. It is an action film. We pull back on that stuff to really keep it in the realm of Fast.”
6. Where’s the rest of the Fast family?
While a cameo for Dominic Toretto is unlikely given Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson’s public beef during the Fast 8 shoot (Dwayne Johnson has already confirmed Hobbs and Shaw won’t appear in Fast 9), it wouldn’t be a Fast and Furious film without family. The most important new addition is Hattie Shaw (Mission: Impossible – Fallout's Vanessa Kirby) – Deckard’s sister – who plays a crucial role in bringing Hobbs and Shaw together.
“She is tough, she is smart, she is an awesome counterpart to the guys, she gives them a run for their money,” Morgan explains. “These two guys both have a goal: to stop our villain. But they have very different methodologies for how they’d like to do that, and they irritate each other, so the last thing they want to do is work together. Hattie is the glue that forces them to work together."
Morgan also says that Hattie “gives us a window into Shaw’s family life and Shaw’s upbringing”, while confirming that Shaw matriarch, Magdalene, will return in Hobbs and Shaw. “We were really lucky to bring back Helen Mirren in this film as their mum. The fact we’ve been so lucky to come back again and again, it gives us an opportunity to learn more about who these guys are, what drives them, where would they like to go. And this movie is particularly fun in that we get to learn about both of these lone wolf alpha guys. We get to learn about their family, and where they come from, and what they do in their down time!”
7. How will Hobbs's brother fit into the story?
We’ve already met our fair share of Shaws, but Hobbs’ extended family are stepping into the limelight here. On Instagram Johnson recently confirmed that fellow WWE superstar Roman Reigns is playing his on-screen brother in Hobbs and Shaw, while Johnson’s own family heritage will be represented in a major way, with a key sequence set in Samoa.
“That was really special, really fun,” Morgan recalls. “And special on a personal level for Dwayne Johnson and his family. His mum was on set for some of the things that we were shooting, and he got very emotional, actually, at some of the stuff that we were able to shoot. We tied into Samoa, which is his ancestry. So for Dwayne’s mum to be able to see her son on screen embracing his true heritage was really awesome.
“One of the earliest ideas for Hobbs here was leaning into his family, leaning into where he comes from,” Morgan continues. “He’s a normal guy like everyone else, and he has sibling issues. It’s what I love most about these films – not only do we get to drag bank vaults down the street in Rio de Janeiro, but we get to take these tough action characters, and look at them through the prism of our lives. Even the guy who goes out to save the world has the same problems and emotional drama that we do.”
8. So just how insane does Hobbs and Shaw get?
The Fast and Furious films don’t play it by halves when it comes to action – particularly of the automechanical kind – and Hobbs and Shaw won’t be pulling its punches in this regard, with the trailer providing a glimpse of at least two major set-pieces, including a car/helicopter pursuit and Brixton running down the side of a building.
But with filming having wrapped only last week, Morgan teases that the best is yet to come. “We’ve got one [set-piece] that we’re just wrapping photography on right now that I think is going to be stunning,” the writer enthuses. “It will take place in the Samoa section of the film. It’s going to be super, super-fun. To be able to work on these things where you get to go out and hang people outside of buildings, you show up to work, look at what you’re shooting, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, this is pretty special.’”
For more about Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, check out our breakdown of the best upcoming movies (opens in new tab) of 2019 to watch out for.