TL;DR – A film that soars when it is in the banter/action grove but falters when it needs to move the story forward.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There are multiple mid-credit scenes as well as an end credit scene
To be honest, if I have a blind spot in modern cinema it is the Fast and Furious franchise. When the films started to come out, I didn’t really jell with the super-serious machismo in what was an inherently silly premise. This looked to be the way for all the films but when The Fate of the Furious came out two years ago, I thought I would give it another watch. Well about the time they used a car to take out a submarine I realised that they had finally realised just how silly it all was and had leaned into it, and that is something I can get behind. That being said, a spin-off the film is still a bit of a gamble, but given how well the director and cinematographer are at actions filmmaking, I walked in being quietly optimistic and with the action, I was not let down.
So to set the scene, two years since the last adventure and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is enjoying his life as a DSS agent and a father to his daughter Sam (Eliana Su’a). However, at that moment in London, an MI6 team is taking out a band of mercenaries that have a manufactured virus and who are about to sell it on the black market. After a clinical takedown of the gang, all is right but then a mysterious figure (Idris Elba) arrives and single handily kills all of the MI6 bar Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) the lead agent. Fearing the virus would get into the hands of evil people Hattie injects herself with the virus to hold on to it while she escapes. The MI6 think she has turned rogue and the CIA, MI6, and the criminal organisation are now hunting her. The only chance she has is if Luke teams up with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and well that has disaster written all over it.
are many reasons that you would go and see a Fast and Furious film and let’s be honest the main one is the
action, mostly based around cars doing things that cars should not do. So yes,
if you are a fan of physics and how they work in real life, this is not going
to be the film for you, but if you are a fan of a car crashing through a
window, landing on a metal strut and driving away as the building explodes
behind you then this is a film that delivers. There are also a lot of really
interesting things as the series transitions more and more from a police procedural/buddy
cop/underground racing film series to one more in tune with the James Bond spy
genre. Indeed, you can see a lot of inspiration from a number of sources up to
and including a motorcycle that was one sound effect away from getting the
people at Hasbro
upset. A lot of film series don’t survive large changes in tone like this, but
this is a series that knows how to roll with the punches and just keep going.
There is a little less emphasis on the fast cars in this film as there are in
the others, but there are some nice chase scenes with a McLaren if you are a
fan of engine sound blaring.
The director David Leitch comes from stunt coordinator background so you know going into one of his films that 1) he has cast Eddie Marsan somewhere, 2) the action is going to be really tight 3) David Leitch will have a cameo that does not end well. With Hobbs & Shaw, all of these are true. Every action beat hits as it should, the choreography works, and it is filmed in a way that they don’t have to cut it a thousand times to give the scenes fake energy because the energy is already there. Some of the action is in-camera, and when you see that a bunch of the goons are really good stunt experts you know that is going to be good. Some of the action is computer-generated, mostly this was fine, there were however a couple of moments when you could tell that everything was a bit too clear and that they had not had enough time to finish of the final few grime passes that stop it standing out.
core facet of the film is the banter, and having Dwayne Johnson and Jason
Statham verbally bounce off each other for most of the film was just a delight.
They have an amazing rapport with each other but also what was great to see is
that Vanessa Kirby was here to take names and she can dance as well as the
others. Indeed a lot of this film is powered by the sheer immensity of charm
that is Dwayne Johnson and this is up there with Jumanji
as one of his best performances to date and Jason Statham was born to play a
role like this. To add to all this there is a strong supporting cast, Helen
Mirren is, of course, Helen Mirren and could be amazing in any role she wanted.
Eliana Su’a is delightful and almost steals all the scenes she is in with Dwayne
which is quite the feat. There are also a number of cameos that the marketing
has not spoiled so far, so I will not here only to say there is one on a plane
that goes on much longer than it really needed to. This is also the first
Hollywood film since Moana to
have a large Polynesian supporting cast and while Samoa looks an awful lot like
Hawaii, it was good to see them show a part of the world and culture that rarely
gets a lot of attention in the west which is a shame.
If there is one weak area in the film it is, unfortunately, Idris Elba and his mercenary/augmented/generic bad guy character Brixton. This is not really Idris’ problem because he is doing the best with what he has been given but more a problem with the story itself, and to talk about the story there may be some mild [SPOILERS] ahead. When the film is just in the groove of the action scenes and witty banter it is delightful or at least entertaining, but when it has to move the story along it grinds to a halt. Part of this is because the bad guys Eteon have one of the most generic rationales I have seen in a long time. The sort of rationale that works in Mission: Impossible because you have actors that can sell it, but here a disembodied “you’ll find out who I am in the sequel” voice just does not cut it. Add to this some plot elements that feel eerily from Mission: Impossible 2 and well they really could have workshopped that a bit more. To add to this, another really frustrating moment is that the film could not decide if Hattie is this kick-ass spy that can take down a whole room of goons without breaking a sweat or damsel in distress that needs to be constantly rescued. Well, when you get to see Vanessa Kirby in action you have to wonder why it was that there was any indecision in the first place. But then these are the type of films where you are going less for the story and more to see Dwayne Captain America a helicopter, and that is something the film gets right.
In the end, do we recommend Hobbs & Shaw? Yes, yes we do. Look, let’s be honest, this is a film that you are coming to see the action and the banter, and while it is not the best action and banter I have seen, it was pretty good. While the film does struggle with the story and the bad guys, those things are sort of in the background anyway so it is not as big of a problem as it is in some films. Overall, I had a good time as did the audience I was with which is always a good thing.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Hobbs & Shaw
Directed by – David Leitch
Story by – Chris Morgan
Screenplay by – Chris Morgan & Drew Pearce
Music by – Tyler Bates
Cinematography by – Jonathan Sela
Edited by – Christian Wagner & Elisabet Rónaldsdóttir
Production/Distribution Companies – Seven Bucks Productions, Chris Morgan Productions & Universal Pictures
Starring – Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza González, Helen Mirren, Eliana Su’a, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis, Joe ‘Roman Reigns’ Anoai, Josh Mauga,John Tui, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, Lyon Beckwith, Westley LeClay & Pingi Moli with Rob Delaney, Kevin Hart & Ryan Reynolds
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13