Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
by Hope Madden
Somewhere around its 6th installment, the Fast & Furious franchise tweaked its direction, abandoning logic and embracing ludicrous action as it jumped cars from skyscraper to skyscraper and waterskied off the back of launched torpedoes.
But things took off for real around Episode 7 when some mad genius decided to pit mountainous government operative Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) against Limey nogoodnik Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), each of them playing a self-lampooning version of themselves. Fun!
Where to go from there? How about we drop that whole car heist and espionage thing, expel Vincent Toretto and gang, bring in Idris Elba and see what happens?
And for the very first time, I was kind of looking forward to a F&F film.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw boasts more than ampersands. Internal logic? Cohesive plot? Thoughtful insights on man’s inhumanity to man?
Cheeky fun? Indeed!
The film indulges in the best elements of F&F (action lunacy, self-aware comedy) and dispenses with its weaknesses (schmaltz, Diesel). F&F: H&S consists primarily of fistfights, gun fights and vehicular chicanery stitched together with comic lines. Unfortunately, there is a plot, but it doesn’t get in the way too much.
A virus meant to thin the herd falls (or is injected!) into the hands of a rogue
(or is she?!!) MI6 agent. The CIA (or is it?!!!) pulls together the two old enemies for no particular reason, but Ryan Reynolds shows up in a decidedly peculiar cameo (one of several to look out for) that draws your attention away from the first of many gaping plot holes.
By this point (about 7 minutes into the film) we’ve been through three separate fight sequences, each meant to articulate the character of one of our leads: down-and-dirty badass (Hobbs), smoothly lethal sophisticate (Shaw), smart and efficient and highly contagious (Vanessa Kirby as MI6 virus thief Hattie), and Black Superman (Idris Elba, who gives himself the name, but if it fits…).
Right. Enough with plot, on to stupifyingly illogical and imaginative action. Hobbs & Shaw offers quite a spectacle.
It bogs down when it gets away from the explosions, wheelies and punches. Whether devoting excessive time to pissing contests or to dysfunctional family backstories, director David Leitch—who proved his action mettle with Atomic Blonde—too often forgets that words are not this franchise’s strongest suit.
Still, there is something compelling about watching Black Superman V Samoan Thor. I don’t know that there’s enough here for a franchise springboard, but there’s plenty for a wasted afternoon.