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Idris Elba elevates Rock/Statham Fast & Furious spinoff to must-watch status

The spinoff has all the makings of a summer hit. Along with the larger than life talents of the bald-headed warriors in its lead and now the cunning ability of its chief bad guy in Elba.
Columbia Pictures

The biggest takeaway from 2017's Fate of the Furious wasn't just that the franchise still had legs, but that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jason Statham's characters needed their own adventure.

From the moment they locked fists in 2015's Furious 7 and then exchanged hilarious one-liners in the next entry to the fuel-injected rollicking series, Johnson and Statham had something that every action star wished they possessed: pure chemistry. When you saw what they could do with a few minutes, you needed 110 minutes of screen time for these two.

And then today, in a move that will only beef up the Hobbs/Shaw spinoff even further, Idris Elba has joined the party as the villain. This should delight fans of The Wire, where Elba made his dent in Hollywood playing the notorious drug dealing kingpin Stringer Bell, and fans of the franchise as well. Elba is a capable actor with charm and presence to spare. Even when the project wasn't the greatest, like The Mountain Between Us or Dark Tower, Elba found a way to make it watchable and entertaining. The great ones do that.

Do I have to even mention his Oscar worthy performance in Aaron Sorkin's Molly's Game this past year? Elba is a versatile talent who will enhance the action-adventure treks that Hobbs and Shaw will take him on. What happens when you add a great actor to an action film? Credibility, baby!

The Rock sure is excited.

Johnson should be. The spinoff has all the makings of a summer hit. Along with the larger than life talents of the bald-headed warriors in its lead and now the cunning ability of its chief bad guy in Elba combined with Vanessa Kirby's deceptive MI-5 agent, the movie is being directed by John Wick auteur, David Leitch and written by Chris Morgan, who was the chief scribe on recent Fast/Furious films. We call that a match made in cinematic heaven.

Leitch is the guy behind John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and this year's smash hit, Deadpool 2. He doesn't just make action films, but movies with a wide-ranging sense of humor, sophistication, and wit. You won't just get Johnson punching out bad dudes or Statham fixing his tie behind the wheel. You'll get their talents pressed to the max.

The movie, still collecting a title, will arrive on July 26, 2019. I would expect a teaser by the end of the summer and a full-fledged trailer sometime in the opening rounds of 2019. This is easily one of the most anticipated movies of 2019, and it just keeps getting better and better.

While the Fast and Furious films have been wildly successful, grossing over five billion dollars so far with eight films, they haven't fired up a spinoff just yet-but now is a good time. As Vin Diesel and company take a break and rest their egos, Johnson and Statham can go off on their own mission and create their own mischief.

For me, it was one scene in The Fate of the Furious that did it for me. Statham's Hobbs is working on a car and Hobbs comes over to talk about the mischievous Brit's colorful past. After a few mild pleasantries, the two exchange threats, with Hobbs' push being so elaborate that Shaw just starts to laugh, as does his counterpart. In a couple minutes of cinema, the wick was lit on a partnership that didn't need to be fast or furious to be successful.

All Johnson and Statham need is a separate location, a big enough space, and some creative partners to make next July the place to be.

I'm already standing in line.