Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019). Film review of the high octane action movie

Film publicity still of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in Fast & Furious Hobbs and Shaw
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Action/adventure/fantasy

2 stars film review fair passes the time

Film review, by Jason Day, of Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, the latest in the high octane, car chases and stunts action blockbusters. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.

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Synopsis

In this spin-off from the main Fast & Furious series of films, CIA operative Lucas Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) teams up with mercenary Declan Shaw (Jason Statham) to help Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) who has deliberately infected herself with a lethal, intelligent pathogen in order to thwart the efforts of genetically enhanced terrorist Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). The duo loathe each other after a previous assignment but must put aside their differences to bring Brixton down.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

Every time you speak, it’s like dragging my balls across broken glass.

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) expresses his dislike of Shaw’s (Jason Statham) British accent.
image poster fast and furious hobbs and shaw

Remember when the Fast & Furious films were all about muscle cars, sun-drenched locations, starred Vin Diesel (he, who?!) and assorted bikini-clad lovelies and had plots that revolved around high octane car chases with a smidgen of criminality/spying lobbed into the narrative?

Well, that was last decade. Now the Fast and the Furious is all about any kind of automative, stars any kind of male action star in need of a quick hit, are set in exotic, far-flung locales like grey London and feature mostly fully clothed women in stories that fit the action around the story (quelle horreur!)

We are now on part nine of the ‘motors and muppets’ epics and although this is officially listed as an off-shoot and there being a few, slight differences, it’s otherwise business as usual. And not the most robust of businesses, either.

Fast & Furious has covered just about every kind of car-based action, the films becoming increasingly ridiculous as ever gamier directors have upped the action ante, desperate to keep audiences thrilled.

At this point, I swear that I’d experience more excitement if The Rock and Jason (‘Ev’ry Day I’m Grumblin’) Statham did something really novel in these films – drove according to the speed limit and Highway Code, parked neatly and considerately and spent the day in a village library quietly researching drainage systems in the Orinoco Basin in the 17th century or prime fly fishing spots in Scotland.

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, left) and Shaw (Jason Statham, right) in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019). Image: Universal International Pictures.

This film has attracted some media attention about both male leads being contracted to limit the amount of punishment their characters take on screen and throwing equal numbers of punches.

Stories about male Hollywood superstars engaged in such cinematic manhood proving tussles are not new. The producers of The Towering Inferno (1974) had to carefully handle the on-screen/poster billing of Paul Newman and Steve McQueen (Newman appearing lower left, McQueen upper right) and screenwriter Stirling Siliphant had to ensure equal lines of dialogue.

Such trifles only matter to the male ego – no casual cinema fan would ever notice or indeed care.

Your eyes will be rolling fully around in their sockets however when Johnson and Statham first get chatting. Their calculatedly barbed insults, probably OK’d by their representatives (Statham: “He looks like a giant tattooed baby” etc) are of a yawningly familiar type. I don’t know what film I have heard them in before because for both performers, their output of the last decade is so samey.

I’ve been here, bought the tee-shirt and wisely kept the receipt to take back to the store the next day because the style just doesn’t suit me no matter how many times I try it on.

So, I’ll side-step their dull, routine turns and focus instead on a real find – for this type of film, Kirby is a revelation.

Vanessa Kirby in Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw
Vanessa Kirby is a revelation…for this franchise. Image: Universal International Pictures.

A fantastic addition to the franchise, she has a cool aloofness but real physical strength, a cheeky sense of humour but who does not rely on cliched wisecracks and manages to look like a classy lady whilst keeping her clothes on.

She settles herself easily in amongst the bulging muscles and inflated personalities of the leads and dilutes the testosterone that would otherwise flood the film. She diffuses these ever increasingly silly men, even when her character is asleep during the movie’s worse scene – on the plane with a special guest star cameo.

That part goes to an unbilled Kevin Hart but you’ll wish as I do that it simply hadn’t been written. He ‘plays’ a US Air Marshall who engages Johnson and Statham in a conversation about the trials and tribulations of being an alpha male. It’s should be jokey, but is played straight without laughs as if someone is trying to make a ‘point’. Perhaps he took on this role in light of his being dropped by the Oscars as host earlier this year due to some nasty homophobic tweets he issued a few years ago.

It’s the film’s most unnecessary, embarrassing scene in a film almost wholly comprised of them.

For more, see the official website.

Cast & credits

Director: David Leitch. 2 hr 17 min/137 min. Universal. (12a)

Producers: Hiram Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Morgan, Jason Statham.
Writers: Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce.
Camera: Jonathan Sela.
Music: Tyler Bates.
Sets: David Scheunemann.

Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Eilana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart.

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