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By Dan Pavelich

Fair disclosure, I had not seen any of the “Fast & Furious” movies before taking in a showing of “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” I think that might have been a distinct advantage, however, as I was able to view this spin-off as it’s own thing entirely.

As Hobbs & Shaw, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham make this an entertaining buddy pic, though they are decidedly not buddies. Their comedic bickering makes this mostly-cliche’ action vehicle watchable, as they get just as many laughs as they do bad guys.

The bad guys, lead by a menacing half-man, half-machine Idris Elba, are of the common action-movie variety. Black helmets are worn by all and motorcycle stunts seems to be their only required job skill. Elba gives weight to their thin plot to take over the world via destructive virus, which is being carried around by rogue spy Vanessa Kirby. Kirby’s character (Hattie Shaw) also happens to be Statham’s sister and Johnson’s love interest.

Sound familiar? True enough, a lot of the plot is rehash, but the cast makes it enjoyably watchable. Rounding out the ensemble is Helen Mirran as the Shaw kids’ escape-artist mother, whose prison scene is worth the ticket price alone. Adding to that is Ryan Reynolds, playing the duo’s C.I.A. contact with a fanboy eagerness, and Kevin Hart as a U.S. Marshall trying his hardest to tag along. These performances, coupled with the natural chemistry of Johnson, Statham & Kirby, make this film a real winner.

The audience laughed out loud too many times for me to count, and as I looked down my row, there were smiles aplenty. Rated PG-13 for violence and language, “Hobbs & Shaw” is definitely suitable for family viewing. It’s more “A-Team” than “Rambo.”