Thursday, August 8, 2019

Movie Review: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw *** / *****
Directed by: David Leitch.
Written by: Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce based on characters created by Gary Scott Thompson.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs), Jason Statham (Shaw), Idris Elba (Brixton), Vanessa Kirby (Hattie), Helen Mirren (Queenie), Eiza González (Madame M), Eddie Marsan (Professor Andreiko), Eliana Sua (Sam), Cliff Curtis (Jonah), Lori Pelenise Tuisano (Sefina), John Tui (Kal), Joshua Mauga (Timo), Joe Anoa'i (Mateo), Rob Delaney (Agent Loeb), Alex King (Lt. Grapefruit), Tom Wu (Tsoi), John MacDonald (Lermotov), Joshua Coombes (Young Deckard), Meesha Garbett (Young Hattie), Harry Hickles (Young Owen). 
 
The Fast & Furious films have come to symbolize something in Hollywood – these are straight ahead, dumb, loud action movies that have no delusions of grandeur, and nothing much on their mind other than mindless action. On that level, they have always been pretty good – entertaining and stupid in equal degrees. It isn’t that the filmmakers don’t take the films seriously – they do, at times bending over backwards for the sake of continuity from film to film, and trying to find ways to top themselves in terms of insanity in their stunts – as well as their strange focus on family which gives the series an emotional through line – even if at times, it doesn’t always make sense (like say, now we will never see Vin Diesel’s sister, played by Jordana Brewster, again since she was married to Paul Walker’s character – who wasn’t killed off when the actor died, just went his own way, or, and this is more relevant to this movie, how Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw was welcomed into the family even after his introduction to the series had him murdering the beloved Han – something the filmmakers insist they will address at some point, although apparently not yet). But the films themselves are not serious – they are goofy fun, and feature a bunch of bulked up muscle men fighting, shooting or racing each other – often at the same time, even if we now know that off-screen, these men are all so concerned with how they come across, they have it written into their contracts how many shots they can take, etc. There are women in these films of course – they are, like the men – all gorgeous and their function is to do the same thing as the men, while rolling their eyes at the cheesy machismo the men display in each and every scene. It’s a formula that mostly works. This time, they decided to see if they could make it work in a spinoff. And, it mainly does.
 
This movie doesn’t feature most of the “family” at the core of these movies – instead just focusing on Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) who are tasked by the CIA to bring in an asset. This asset is Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) – Shaw’s previously never mentioned sister, a MI6 agent, who injected herself with a deadly disease, in order to prevent Brixton (Idris Elba) for getting it. Brixton works for some sort of company whose goal it seems is to wipe out the weak people in the world – and who has altered Brixton so much with hardware and software, that he may be the “black Superman” as he says, but he’s also barely human.
 
So what follows is basically Hobbs and the two Shaw siblings jet setting around the world, trying to find a way to get the virus out of Hattie before it kills her – and Brixton and company always in their tail, trying to get the virus. Hobbs and Shaw don’t like each other – or so they claim – so they spend most of their time engaged in macho banter where they insult each other, and Hattie spends all her time rolling her eyes. This probably sounds insufferable – and to be honest, had been handled differently, it probably could have been – but Johnson and Statham have good chemistry together, and it sounds natural to have them insult each other. And Kirby – who by the way is 19 years younger than Statham, so it’s ridiculous to suggest they were children at the same time – is an expert eye-roller. And the action sequences are fun – directed at full tilt, so even if they don’t break new ground for this series, they are entertaining enough that you don’t mind.
 
The film was directed by David Leitch – apparently an uncredited co-director on the original John Wick, before heading out on his own to direct Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. This film isn’t as good as Atomic Blonde – which was his way of saying he could do John Wick style action by himself, and even if he isn’t as good as Chad Stahelski – who keeps raising the bar with the John Wick series, he’s still pretty good. Here, he is good at these massive action sequences – and keeps them moving and flowing, no matter how silly they get. He doesn’t reach the heights that the best directors of this series – like Justin Lin – hit – but he doesn’t really need to. This film is more of a placeholder than anything – a way to fill in the years between 2017’s The Fate of the Furious and the ninth installment, whatever it may be called, next year. This film is just meant as a way to make you don’t forget how much you enjoy this series.
 
It feels like that as well. No matter how much great actors like Vanessa Kirby and Idris Elba come in, there is a whiff of this being a going through the motions entry in the series. It coasts on the charm of its two leads, the talent of the supporting cast, and a lot of car chases, shootouts and macho B.S. It is fine – nothing more and nothing else. It never really tried to be.

15 comments:

  1. I liked this movie. Maybe it's a matter of approaching him, because I didn't require too much either. I treated it as a movie for a casual evening and a background for talking to my friends. We had a great time!

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  2. Good and crazy action movie. Fast and furious 10 incoming guys!

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  3. One of the best action movie ive seen

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  4. First Fast & Furious ist the best

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