Dir: David Leitch
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, and Cliff Curtis
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot”. “Freebie and the Bean”. “Tango and Cash”. “Turner & Hootch”.
“Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” continues the story tradition of the “buddy” film formula; two unlikely, often complete opposite, characters are somehow forced into cooperation and are whisked into a narrative that involves hijinks, adventure, crime, or romance. We’ve had follies with escaped convicts, escapades with rogue cops, and jaunts that pair human and animal.
“Hobbs & Shaw”, two foes who first threw each other through windows and broke each other over furniture in “Furious 7” and then continued their fighting while working together in “The Fate of the Furious”, somehow has a little bit of everything thrown into its lofty narrative structure. This is an action movie plain and simple, a summer blockbuster extravaganza with enough “boom” and “bang” to fill two movies. It completely understands how to utilize its action movie super humans to the fullest extent, allowing enough witty one-liners and tree-chopping put downs to fill the spaces between action set pieces with enough humor to distract from the glaring lapses in narrative design. Still, if you’ve seen all eight “Fast and Furious” films, watched all four of the “The Transporter” movies, or watched Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson deliver wrestling moves in World Wrestling Entertainment, you know exactly what to expect from “Hobbs & Shaw”.
A genetically enhanced bad guy (Idris Elba) with a physics-defying motor cycle is trying to steal a dangerous, world-ending virus but is thwarted by a special agent (Vanessa Kirby) who steals the weapon and retreats into hiding. Lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and outcast Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are called in, unbeknownst to each other, to form a team to save the world.
Director David Leitch, who helmed “Atomic Blonde” and “Deadpool 2”, understands how to craft an action scene and how to provide that crucial element of fan service. When working with a franchise, “Fast and Furious”, that has built expectations so high for death-defying action scenes, applying the right amount fan service can be a difficult task. “Hobbs & Shaw” hits all the obvious marks, fans get a few explosive car chases, tough guy humorous banter between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, and several bone-crushing fist fights. The film is checking all the boxes.
But there is unfortunately something missing, the element of coherence and logic in storytelling that has all but been erased from the “Fast and Furious” films as they have grown in action franchise dominance. The element of drama and emotion that fleshes out their over heroic characters which has been replaced with heavy-handed emotional scenes that feel out of place and, in the case of “Hobbs & Shaw”, a “bromance” that plunges awkwardly between moments that are trying to be heartfelt and humorous. This dramatic element succeeds a handful of times when Johnson and Statham work individually with other characters in the film, unfortunately it seldom exists between the two leads.
“Hobbs & Shaw” highlights the primary expectations fans of the “Fast and Furious” franchise are looking for. The action moves closer to comic book movie status while the humor works on the most superficial terms. For the last film of the 2019 summer blockbuster movie season, “Hobbs & Shaw” is an easy, simple, unremarkable distraction.
2.25 out of 5.00