The ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise has had fuel in its tank since 2001, having seen the release of eight feature films. The series began rather simply, with the first film depicting Vin Diesel and Paul Walker at odds with one another over illegal drag races. This tradition continued for the next three films, before switching gears into a more action-heavy series with ‘Fast Five’ in 2011. This change has proven to be a beneficial one, as audiences had grown attracted to the ludicrous fare that this series has given them. Recent installments such as ‘Furious 7’ and ‘The Fate of the Furious’ have also grossed over a billion dollars worldwide.
That leads us to this newest film: ‘Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.’ This one acts as the ninth overall installment of the franchise, but as a spin-off, not a sequel to ‘The Fate of the Furious.’ ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ brings back franchise veterans Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, respectively. The duo finds themselves having to team up to prevent a virus from being unleashed upon the world. As per the typical ‘Fast and Furious’ film, there is exhilarating action, goofy one-liners, a dash of stupidity, and a working engine present.
It takes two (or three) to make a 2018 McLaren 720S Coupe go right
The best element of ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ by far is the palpable chemistry between Johnson and Statham. While we got a mere glimpse into their dynamic back in ‘The Fate of the Furious,’ this film goes all in. For pretty much the entire duration of the film, the titular duo constantly berate one another while fighting the bad guys and trying to save the world. While the consistent banter between the two is quite entertaining–and even funny at times–at around the film’s halfway point, the shtick starts to grow a bit stale. Unfortunately, it became obvious that the same jokes and insults were going to be recycled over and over again, and you just have to sit there and push through them.
Despite that, the addition of Vanessa Kirby, who plays Deckard’s sister Hattie, helps to keep the dynamic a bit fresh. When compared to Johnson and Statham, Kirby takes things a bit more seriously, which added some much needed urgency to the story at hand. Not only that, but the relationship that Kirby and Statham’s characters share as siblings revealed some interesting aspects of their past, such as how they have clever maneuvers for robbing people. However, the film tries its hardest to force Kirby into a relationship with Johnson, which was detrimental since the two of them shared little chemistry.
Mr. Elba, you were going well past the speed limit
The main villain of the film is criminal mastermind Brixton Lore (yes, that is his actual name), who was played by Idris Elba. The character was advertised as being a soldier equipped with biomechanical upgrades that gave him enhanced durability, super strength, and an internal computer system that allowed him to analyze his enemies. Such upgrades caused Brixton to dub himself “Black Superman” (although he’s more of a Cyborg or a black Captain America, but I digress). His goal throughout the film was to help the secretive organization known as Eteon, whose goal was to prevent humanity’s extinction through augmenting the strong in order to eliminate the weak (this is real, I am not joking), and the virus I mentioned earlier would help in completing that goal.
Sadly, everything involving Brixton and Eteon were the weakest elements of the film. Even by usual ‘Fast and Furious’ standards, these elements were a bit too ridiculous, and even generic. There have been many films in the past in which the main antagonist would believe that humanity needed to be wiped out or augmented or culled or what have you in order to save the planet, and Eteon was no exception. The ridiculousness comes in through Brixton himself, as his augmentations made him almost out-of-place, feeling more like the villain out of a ‘Kingsman’ film. Despite that, Brixton’s character could’ve actually benefited from a more outlandish personality, as Elba played him too straight-faced. There were little moments where Elba did try to go the extra mile, but he frequently held it back.
Green means go
Thankfully, ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ delivers on its action scenes. This comes as no surprise since David Leitch, the director of ‘Deadpool 2’ and ‘Atomic Blonde,’ directed this film. While the seemingly contractually obligated car chase sequences were borderline insane–particularly one that occurs near the end of the film–they were very entertaining to watch. The best of these sequences involved Hobbs and the Shaw siblings driving through the streets of London in order to escape Brixton and several Eteon operatives. It was frantic and exhilarating, containing a neat little trick that Brixton did with his motorcycle that I won’t spoil here.
On the whole, the hand-to-hand combat scenes were far better. The weight and impact of each hit was evident, and these scenes were notable highlights. One involving Statham fighting Eteon operatives in an apartment immediately comes to mind.
You get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car!
Much like how Oprah surprised her audience that fateful day with a car for each of them, ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ delivers some surprises of its own. For starters, there are several celebrity cameos in the film that are played entirely for comedy. The cameos actually happen several times throughout the film by the same actors, and the pacing tended to grind to a halt when these occurred. The other surprise that was present was the inclusion of some backstory for Hobbs, as more information about his family is given. Unfortunately, that backstory is cliched and generic, as it uses the tired “sibling is angry with main character for abandoning family years ago” plot point.
Featured Image: IMDb
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