Minor spoilers for Hobbs & Shaw to follow.
If an action-loving cinephile happened to crack open a Corona, flick on a Fast & Furious film and decide to play a drinking game, one instantly comes to mind. Knock back a beverage every time that a character mentions the word “family” — Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner have traditionally done the honors, but Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw have been known to as well — and you’d end up rather sauced rather quickly.
There’s an alternative, for those looking beyond the obvious. The outcome would remain the same, however. Take a swig whenever the high-octane series hones in on two bickering figures who shouldn’t fit together, yet do, and you’d be over the legal driving limit faster than you could speed through a quarter mile.
As much as Toretto and the gang love waxing lyrical about the value of family, be it the blood or the brotherhood kind, these gear heads and their ever-expanding entourage love clashing pairings just as much. It’s the foundation of the entire franchise, just as it was for the series’ inspiration as well. Before Dom was trading barbs and then banter with clean-cut undercover cop Brian — between burning rubber, of course — newly minted FBI agent Johnny Utah and surfing guru Bodhi were doing the same over boards and bank robberies. Neither Point Break nor any F&F film would be what it is without the odd couple dynamic, and the latter saga has plenty of standout examples.
With Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw now in cinemas, the franchise has even turned the concept of mismatched double acts into its first spin-off. But, as filled with brooding action men slinging insults at each other as the latest addition to the series is, Hobbs and Shaw are just one of F&F’s great odd couples.
DOM AND BRIAN
The best odd couples feel like pieces from two different puzzles that somehow still connect, and that sums up F&F’s main men perfectly. They’re as alike as they are different, which has always been evident from the outset. Indeed, it’s what initially caused the pair to butt heads way back in the original film, while keeping them connected once the series properly put the pedal to the metal again from 2009’s Fast & Furious onwards. And, let’s face it — for all of their heartfelt camaraderie, Dom and Brian were always at their finest when there’s a bit of bite to their repartee. Doesn’t a Corona between pals taste better when it’s washing down some A-grade banter?
ROMAN AND TEJ
Yes, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) both have skills, backstories and reasons for being part of the gang; however, their real function has always been comic relief. Put either of them next to Dom and Brian, and you know where the jokes are coming from. Put the two together, their wisecracking rivalry flares up, and you’ve got yourself another odd couple. The longer the franchise has gone on, the more Roman and Tej’s double act has been played up, but their hook gun scene in Fast & Furious 6 ranks among their best moments.
HOBBS AND SHAW
Getting this brawny duo together worked a charm in The Fate of the Furious, so it naturally does the same in the movie that shares their names. It’s the old lawman versus crook dynamic again — yes, the one that Dom and Brian’s friendship was originally based on. If that wasn’t clear enough in Hobbs & Shaw, the spin-off also throws a sister into the mix. Of course, when something works, it works. And in a particularly entertaining split-screen scene, as well as a mirrored attempt to dispense with villainous henchmen, it truly does. That said, the new film can lean a little too heavily on the odd couple factor at times, even though it’s in the name of laughs.
LETTY AND KARA
Sharing the spotlight in one scene and one scene only in Furious 7, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Kara (Ronda Rousey) are straight-up adversaries, with no signs of a possible friendship — or even just begrudgingly getting along for the greater good — ever sighted between them. But that one scene is such a delight, it’s easy to wish that the powers that be would find any excuse they can to team up the crew’s number one gal with the formidable female bodyguard.
MR. NOBODY AND EVERYONE
Some characters just bounce off of everyone. While secretive government agent Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) doesn’t ever get enough screen-time in Fast 7 or The Fate of the Furious to properly establish an odd couple rapport, you just know that he could — and should. Kurt Russell certainly has the pedigree, although perhaps the franchise is saving Mr. Nobody’s big moment until it can recruit Sylvester Stallone and mastermind a Tango & Cash reunion.
QUEENIE SHAW AND DOM
Given that it’s not only still going strong 18 years and nine films after first hitting screens, but plotting a whole universe to come, there’s plenty of room in the F&F canon for a Helen Mirren-led installment. Even when she’s chatting with her own children, Queenie Shaw fires out snappy banter with the best of them — more than enough to carry a whole film, rather than just the few scenes she’s received in The Fate of the Furious and Hobbs & Shaw. Indeed, her initial appearance opposite Dom makes that plain. Also, that’s a pairing everyone would love more of.
HOBBS AND LOCKE
If ever the F&F franchise decides to spin-off its first spin-off, this twosome is ready and willing. Well, one of them is. Not just eager and obsessed, but sporting a matching tribal tattoo and friendship necklace to signify his affection, Locke couldn’t be more keen to stay by Hobbs’s side from the moment he enters the F&F universe. Given how Hobbs & Shaw plays out, it’s likely that we haven’t seen the last of the CIA agent — or of Hobbs deflecting Locke’s mancrush-fuelled hero worship.