It seems like these Fast & Furious movies have jumped the shark even further with this one, but in all honesty, I don’t mind!
Taking place after the most recent entry in the long running Fast & Furious franchise, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – the first spinoff movie of the series – follows the titular pair, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), as they try to work together to save humanity from a lethal programmable virus dubbed “Snowflake”. After framing Deckard’s sister and badass MI6 agent, Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), for the theft of the virus and the murder of her squad, cybernetically enhanced soldier and all around bad guy, Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), makes it his mission to hunt down the virus, and by extension, anyone that gets in his way, Hobbs and Shaw included. Now, with time running out to obtain and neutralize the virus, our protagonist must find a way to put their differences aside and join forces for the greater good, or risk losing the virus to a new threat that wants nothing more than to remake the world in their image. Bad guys, huh? Always up to something wacky!
Spinning off from a franchise that has slowly but surely become synonymous with over-the-top thrills and unreal action sequences that defy all logic, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, is a film of similar ilk, just turned up to eleven. The action, as can be expected, is ridiculous, loud and fun as hell, even with the rules of this world set out in previous installments of the franchise seemingly thrown out the window within the first twenty minutes. But due to the commitment of the filmmakers to the zaniest and most outlandish aspects of the script, as well as the unabashed confidence of everyone involved, Hobbs & Shaw is able to work better than expected on levels that I hadn’t anticipated.
Say what you will about the scripting and the fact that it comes off like a teenaged boys’ wet dream wrapped in a hyperactive shell of an ADD driven music video, but the eye roll worthy one-liners and nonsensical plot points never would have landed nearly as well if it weren’t for the actors delivering them with a playful wink and a sense of cool that is usually lost on movies like this. Dwayne Johnson, as always, is just so damn good at doing these types of films and making them seem less insane than they really are, and this film is no exception. He alone is enough to elevate the script to levels that any other actor might struggle with, giving room for Jason Statham to flex his martial arts skills while at the same time allowing him to find his funny bone and go toe to toe with The Rock’s charisma and comedic timing in every scene they’re in together. Couple that with some great, albeit slightly less scene chewing acting from Vanessa Kirby and some full blown scene chewing from Idris Elba, and you have a film that lives and dies by its action and acting, both of which are able to temper the other in ways that makes the film click in a whole lot more ways than it should.
At its highest points this film, directed by Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde’s David Leitch, is a slickly made, bombastic thrill ride that feels like an updated 80s action movie with better Hollywood magic, but unfortunately, not all explosions and one-liner are created equal. As can be expected, being birthed from a franchise who’s entire draw is to show audiences fast cars, hot bodies, thumping music and absolutely bonkers action scenarios, the general plot for Hobbs & Shaw is a little thin, and borderline nonsensical at times. Sure, there’s a very loose reason for all of the big bangs, funny quips and face punches, but that reasoning is so farfetched, unnecessarily big and from out of left field that when we do find out who the “big bad” is that’s been pulling our antagonists strings, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and then proceed to somehow pretend like having a DNA encoded virus called “Snowflake” was a better, less ridiculous idea.
The film itself is still fun and entertaining to be sure (I truly did enjoy myself by the time I left the theater), but with the increasingly wacky way the script ups the ante in terms of what happens story and action-wise, the film gets to the point where it all kind of feels like the filmmakers were throwing things against the wall to see what sticks, a problem that I don’t necessarily mind, but one that gives the latter half of the movie a lot more misses than hits. Thanks to the chemistry between the leads and some unexpected cameos that I absolutely did not see coming, the handful of blatant problems this film does have can be pretty easily overlooked, even with the film fluctuating between being an average, slightly inspired piece of popcorn entertainment, to an above average, balls to the wall action flick that doesn’t let up from start to finish.
While not exactly a homerun in terms of quality or even coherency, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a solid 80s-esque action movie that goes above and beyond the call of duty in nearly every aspect of its being, simply because it can. The jokes are fast and many, the action furious and entertaining, and the chemistry between cast mates palpable, but everything else in this film feels like a practice in how far your suspension of disbelief is willing to go before things get too over-the-top for their own good. The pairing of Johnson and Statham is obviously the main draw here, and they do not disappoint in their exchanges whether it be at the business end of a fist or the butt-end of a joke, so if you’re looking for a mindless, funny, explosive popcorn flick, this is your end of summer escape.