Dan's Review: "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" keeps the ridiculousness going
Jul 31, 2019 03:21PM
● By Dan Metcalf
Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw - © 2019 Universal Pictures.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Universal)
Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza González, Helen Mirren, Cliff Curtis, Eliana Sua, Rob Delaney, Charlize Theron (voice), Kevin Hart, Ryan Reynolds, Eddie Marsan.
Written by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce.
Directed by David Leitch.
I believe that the downfall of our civilization may come down to one thing: the reality that bad films keep making money, and people will continue to see them until society is entirely bankrupt; morally, spiritually, and financially. I blame Michael Bay. He’s the one who started this mess with the Transformers franchise and other questionable films. Sure, these movies look awesome, with all their testosterone-laden speeches, scenery-eating special effects, and (did I mention?) EXPLOSIONS! In the lexicon of bad filmography, I think it’s safe to say that Bay’s success begat the Fast and Furious phenomenon, a series so ridiculous that its last installment featured a car chase with a nuclear submarine, not to mention a plethora of the aforementioned “macho-speak,” CG special effects, and EXPLOSIONS! Since the F&F franchise moved so far away from a story about a bunch of street-racing thugs that (obviously) transforms into an elite spy organization, it might seem fitting to branch out a little more into the spy game. All this ridiculous F&F success leads us to this week’s release of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
Without getting too bogged down in the detailed origin of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), let’s just begin with the story of an American “DSS” operative (Hobbs) and a formerly disavowed British Special Forces agent (Shaw) who really hate each other but are assigned to work the same case. That case involves a missing virus, injected into the veins of a British MI-6 agent named Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), who happens to be Deckard’s little sister. Hattie injected herself to keep the virus from falling into the hands of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a former MI-6 agent now employed by the mysterious ETEON corporation, whose mysterious leader is plotting to wipe out most of the world’s population in order to usher in a new social order. Lore is equipped with cybernetic upgrades that give him superpowers. As Hobbs and Shaw work with Hattie, their combative rivalry takes its toll until they can learn to trust each other and set up a massive showdown with Lore on Hobbs’ home island of Samoa. Sprinkle in some comic relief involving cameo appearances from Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart, and you can pretty much guess how it’s going to work out (macho-speak, CGI, EXPLOSIONS!).
I’ll admit my bias against all F&F movies, since the original F&F film is one of my least favorite (the moral of which is: if you sleep with the gang leader’s sister, it’s okay to let him get away with major crimes). With my distaste for the first F&F, you’d be hard-pressed to convince that it could get worse, but I suppose it goes to prove that things can indeed get worse by getting more ridiculous.
Surprisingly, I was not all that annoyed with the first 45 minutes of Hobbs & Shaw, which begins as a traditional high-tech spy thriller and a few intriguing scenes involving Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby. The cantankerous relationship between Hobbs and Shaw also has its appeal – to a degree. Any macho chemistry between the pair pretty much runs its course by the time they run out of clever misogynistic insults that question each other’s masculinity. The remaining two-thirds of the movie involves tedious chase scenes, fisticuffs, and gun battles (please note that the movie is rated PG-13 for several elements, including “prolonged sequences of action and violence”), the likes of which we’ve already seen in so, so many other F&F films. Prolonged, indeed.
“Geez, Dan, why don’t you lighten up. It’s just a bit of mindless fun,” you say. To those who complain about stuffy film critics who seem constantly annoyed by such movies, let me remind my faithful readers that I indeed LOVE well-made action movies and spy thrillers, many of which I watch over and over again (Mission: Impossible, James Bond, etc.). The key distinction between these quality franchises and F&F is “quality.” I believe you can make a good spy thriller, if you start with a good story, well-developed characters, good screenwriting (that involves something a little more nuanced than macho insults and flexing), and special effects that are more visceral and (dare I say?) plausible.
Yes, you know what you’re getting when you plop down $10-$12 on an F&F movie, and if you really don’t mind having your mind eaten away by lazy makeup, over-the-top special effects, eye-rolling one-liners and weak storytelling, F&F Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is just the ticket. Maybe I’m overreacting, but with the success of the F&F and the Transformers franchises, I worry that films will move further away from something that entertains and benefits us - and closer to shiny things that look “cool.” Chemistry, EXPLOSIONS, and casting can only take you so far. At some point, it’s my hope that we will crave substance, lest we all crowd into darkened theaters as society crumbles outside.
"Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" Trailer