WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, in theaters now.
Hobbs & Shaw brings Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to the forefront of the franchise, alongside Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). But this is hardly the first time Statham has been at the center of a franchise that combines crime and cars, and that's not even counting his three previous appearances in the Fast and the Furious films.
In fact, Hobbs & Shaw even directly references another film in which Statham played a criminal driver. And we're not talking about The Transporter.
THE ITALIAN JOB
Based on the 1969 film of the same name, 2003's The Italian Job followed the release of the original The Fast & The Furious. The movie centered around a group of robbers who are betrayed by one of their own after stealing a cache of Italian gold. Reuniting to target the traitorous member, they devise a new plan to rob him and get their gold back.
The film starred Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Mos Def, Seth Green and the then up-and-coming Jason Statham. Statham played Handsome Rob, the team's getaway driver. Oddly predictive of his future role in The Fast add the Furious franchise, Rob is established early on as a quick-witted and eternally cool robber. One of the major pieces of the film involved using modified mini-coopers to transport the stolen gold.
After Hobbs, Shaw and Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) are forced on the run and framed for going rogue, they head into Shaw's secret garage. The location is full of luxury cars. Hobbs gives Shaw plenty of crap for having too many cars for no real reason, poking fun at his choice of vehicles.
The only one that Shaw outright defends is a mini-cooper, which he mentions he got as the result of "a job I pulled in Italy." This is a direct reference to The Italian Job, or at least recalling the title and the distinct mini-coopers used in the film. The reference could just be an allusion, or it could even suggest that The Italian Job is in the same universe as Hobbs & Shaw... which could actually be kind of perfect.
Hobbs and Shaw actually reveal a great deal about the origins of Deckard Shaw. All we know is that he was a crafty robber when he was a child before briefly working for MI6. But when he was framed for killing his squadmates, he went on the run and became a criminal. Following the shared universe thread, there's no reason he couldn't have assumed a couple of false names during that time, potentially even including Handsome Rob.
His share of the gold he received from the heist could have even been the first building block he needed to earn his current life of luxury. The massive heist in that film included the Ukrainian mob, Seth Green hijacking the traffic lights in all of Los Angeles and a high-speed chase through the Los Angeles River, which would all fit with the rest of The Fast and the Furious franchise.
Tying The Italian Job to The Fast & The Furious could even allow other major stars (like Mark Whalberg) to make an easy transition into the franchise. However, it would also create an interesting wrinkle, as Charlize Theron has also appeared in The Fast & The Furious already as the villainous Cipher. She might not have as easy of a connection between The Italian Job and The Fast & The Furious as Handsome Rob/Shaw does, but it could make for another fun connection to the underrated 2003 film for future entries in the franchise to reference.
Directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2) from a script by longtime Fast & Furious narrative architect Chris Morgan, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw stars Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby. The film arrives Aug. 2.