As a child, did you smash your action figures together with your toy cars, SUVs, and helicopters and make fake explosive sounds with your mouth? As an adult, do you still do that? Well, if you do, aside from perhaps needing psychotherapy, you may like Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw.
Directed by David Leitch, who’s made competent action films such as Atomic Blonde (2017), Deadpool 2 (2018), and influenced John Wick (2014) — Hobbs & Shaw is a spin-off of The Fast and the Furious series. The franchise, which finally hit its stride in Fast & Furious 5 (2011) with the introduction of formidable Diplomatic Security Service Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), never quite worked as a street racing film about car thieves. But with the fifth installment, the franchise became more ridiculous and action-packed and it worked.
The sixth film in the series introduced us to UKSF assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a thoroughly bad guy who murders people in cold blood. This spin-off takes the two characters, Hobbs and Shaw, and puts them together in a ’90s style buddy cop movie and expects us to cheer for them. Yes, it expects us to cheer for a character who is a remorseless killer, but no one has ever accused Fast & Furious fans of using their grey matter.
If you can check your brain in at the door, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw will show you a fun time
Hobbs & Shaw also introduces us to an evil MI6 agent named Brixton Lore/Black Superman (Idris Elba), a war criminal, terrorist, and cyborg with superhuman abilities. Here, the plot is the typical action spy movie nonsense, where the villain is threatening the world with a super virus.
In fact, Deckard Shaw’s only motivation in joining the good guys is to rescue his sister, Hattie Shaw who herself is an MI6 agent. Not that Hattie needs it. Played well by Vanessa Kirby, she can kick as much rear as her brother. In fact, she is such a significant part of the film, it may as well have been called Hobbs & Shaws.
As you can expect, the action scenes in Hobbs & Shaw are mindlessly entertaining. Sort of like a Michael Bay film, but amusing. The hand-to-hand combat scenes are high-octane fun. They often quickly develop into over-the-top explosive set-pieces involving buildings or vehicles, where everything defies the laws of physics. In fact, I have it on good authority that the release of this film caused Issac Newton to turn in his grave.
The performances in Hobbs & Shaw are effective. The Rock, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, and Idris Elba have enough chemistry to keep the film moving. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough to work with.
Speaking of bad jokes, Hobbs & Shaw has plenty of humour. Most of it is funny, some of it not. Certainly, more gags than any of the other films in the franchise.
The performances in Hobbs & Shaw are effective. The Rock, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, and Idris Elba have enough chemistry to keep the film moving. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough to work with. The script is poor. To make matters worse, the film overstays its welcome.
Just when you think Hobbs & Shaw has ended, it surprises you with another act that has little to do with the rest of the film. This final segment is about the franchise’s family values theme and will leave you checking your watch often. Here, the rest of the film’s flaws become more apparent. It’s sort of like having a greasy burger. Have one, and you find it tasty. Forced to eat another, and you realise just how bad the first one was for you.
Your mileage with Hobbs & Shaw will vary with your expectations. If you can check your brain in at the door, are up for a night of silly entertainment, and can forgive some glaring errors in the editing room, then you’ll be in for a fun time.
Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language
Published in Dawn, ICON, August 11th, 2019