Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Portraying wildly popular characters in the recent Fast & Furious franchise, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are kind of awesome together, spun off on their own.
In some ways, this is the summer action movie we all deserve in 2019.
The stunts amaze, the CGI-enhanced action sequences still dazzle, and the one-liners (mostly) land. Hobbs & Shaw is as rewarding as it can be to the audience who truly wants this.
At 135 minutes, a minimum of 30 minutes too long by the way, Hobbs & Shaw definitely becomes the guest who never leaves.
For all the hyperkinetic editing of action sequences, fight scenes, and chases, simple anachronistic goofs and mistakes are present, especially in one scene where it switches from night to day and back again FOUR times.
Honestly, it’s just too much. Johnson & Statham are seldom, if ever, the problem. Rather, everything around them just proves exhausting and the story is a mess and you know what… just pass the popcorn. Who cares! This movie doesn’t!
When you see a 135-minute, testosterone-fueled action movie like Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, you can go one of two ways with this. One: You just strap in and let everything wash over you; or Two: You just call this all stupid and give up 10 minutes in.
Though exhausting and taxing, I advise hanging in for the long ride, even acknowledging that a last 15-20 minute sequence the movie tacks on is completely unnecessary and superfluous to any “story” being told.
Except…those moments represent Samoan culture in a way few movies of recent memory have done. Largely, an acknowledgment to star Dwayne Johnson’s Samoan heritage, though again unnecessary from a plot standpoint, the sequences work fairly well, almost as a standalone little movie.
But also…they shot the scenes from Samoa in Kauai, Hawaii. And while it renders the whole heritage thing a bit false in presentation, a phrase comes to mind when thinking about the movie as a whole…
Unnecessary, but it kind of works. That’s Hobbs & Shaw about the best I can sum it up.
While it need not run longer than 90 minutes, the plot of Hobbs & Shaw is rather simple. A cyber-enhanced former British operative, Brixton (Idris Elba), has attempted to frame an MI6 agent, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), for killing her team after she steals “Snowflake,” a programmable virus (…huh?!) that will liquefy a person’s insides in 72 hours and then has the potential to become airborne and kill, like, everyone. (…Wait. What?!)
To save “Snowflake” from getting into Brixton’s clutches, Hattie implants the virus capsules into her own body and will seemingly just sort it all out later. Believing Hattie has gone rogue, Hobbs gets the intel, sitting in a diner with his 9-year-old daughter (Eliana Sua). And while we apparently just pass top secret intel dossiers in public nowadays, Shaw (Jason Statham) is already on board and the histrionics soon begin when the two men see they must come together (once again) to save the world.
Of course, Hattie has a connection to one of these two guys and, in addition to the burdensome task of saving the world, the international media has now branded Hobbs and Shaw as terrorists for the attacks. Of course this subplot gets abandoned midway through the film, as do most of the ideas and extraneous noise drummed up in the screenplay from Chris Morgan (a lifer with this Fast & Furious stuff) and Drew Pearce.
Directed with zeal by David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde), the former stuntman is having a ball with trying to orchestrate some of the most elaborate and impossible stunts ever digitized for the big screen. Obvious CGI-enhanced effects distract at times, but there is absolute chaos and insanity perpetrated on screen.
And that’s why you’re really here.
If running vertically down a skyscraper with a human being strapped to your back doesn’t get it for you, then perhaps hook-sliding motorcycles under semi/long-haul trucks at breakneck speed might pop a response. If a daisy chain of trucks and jeeps trying to ground a helicopter with one large-linked chain doesn’t have you cheering, perhaps the fact that a guy finds himself forced to hold that chain, while standing in the back of a flatbed of one of the vehicles, while everyone travels 40-50 mph on a crumbling dirt road, will have you applauding in your seat.
These are the moments that have originated from burnouts, tire squeals, drag racing, and posing and preening around impossibly perfect, candy-painted cars. The original Fast & Furious movies feel like a completely different franchise than where things are now. When Johnson joined the franchise and became both an off-screen and on-screen nemesis to entrenched star Vin Diesel, the series got a boost of adrenaline. Those canisters have seemingly gone empty, so now we just play oneupsmanship with each successive movie, often to unrelenting noise and bombast.
This is likely not a one-off. Hobbs & Shaw absolutely, positively, sets up for a sequel or more. A couple of cameos (no spoilers here) give the studio a sense of direction to look towards if (and when) this movie makes hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide and Universal Pictures asks for more Hobbs and more Shaw.
At 135 minutes, Hobbs & Shaw goes from being great fun to passive entertainment to a ludicrous spectacle to sloppy, haphazardly arranged trash. How you allocate your time with each of those reactions will dictate how much of this you can tolerate.
Johnson and Statham can charm their way through any scenario. Their barbs are sharp (though anatomical jokes are constant and lazy) and their continual effort to out-whisper and out-gravel each other’s voices creates its own brand of comedy.
But this is really just cinematic professional wrestling, akin to the sports entertainment world where Dwayne Johnson get his start. The movie even embraces that world, offering a subtle tribute to Johnson’s wrestling hall-of-fame father, Rocky Johnson, while even giving a small supporting role to current WWE star, and Johnson’s real-life cousin, Roman Reigns (Joe Anoa’i).
By the end, Hobbs & Shaw will wear you out and likely both entertain and annoy you at the same time. Where things go from here is anyone’s guess, but much like the plot points the movie delivers - nothing matters as long as the stunts outperform the ones before it. And, in that regard, Hobbs & Shaw more than delivers on its promise.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, John Tui, Joshua Mauga, Joe Anoa’i, Rob Delaney, Kevin Hart, Ryan Reynolds.
Director: David Leitch
Written by: Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce (screenplay); Chris Morgan (story)
Based on characters created by Gary Scott Thompson
Release Date: August 2, 2019