Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Genre: Action Running Time: 2 hrs. 15 min.

Release Date: August 2nd, 2019 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: David Leitch Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Helen Mirren, Eliana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Rob Delaney

 


 

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hen MI6 learns of the creation of the highly contagious, lethal CT17 virus, they send one of their top black ops units to retrieve the only existing canister. But the mission quickly goes south when cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier Brixton (Idris Elba) arrives on the scene and proceeds to eliminate the SIS squad. Rather than allow the deadly concoction to fall into enemy hands, the last remaining member, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), opts to inject herself with the substance and flee. Desperate to locate the vanished agent, MI6 joins forces with the CIA to enlist their two best men for the job: Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham), who coincidentally hate each other.

From the opening moments, Elba’s character is a supervillain, decked out in a supersuit, using cyborg eyes to outmaneuver opponents, blocking bullets with his palms, and punching through steel barriers as if they were tissue paper. The “Fast & Furious” franchise has been steadily pushing toward full-on science-fiction over the course of the last few entries, and this one is no different. But its out-of-this-world, unrealistic components aren’t problematic on their own; here, it’s that the story has no creative or intelligent use for them. To pit Hobbs and Shaw against a virtually extraterrestrial nemesis (as emotionless and unvarying as a Terminator) means increasing their own invincible qualities or forcing Brixton to use kid gloves; they’re all made to be either more or less human in a world with such advanced, hyper-stylized technology. And as a result, the various adventures have no gravity (oftentimes literally as well as figuratively).

Initially, it’s a sound move to reduce the unwieldy cast of the unending property down to just two of the more likable sidekicks. Hobbs and Shaw in particular represent two contrasting ends of the macho spectrum: rugged vs. refined, brawny vs. well-suited, the oversized truck vs. the McLaren sports car, and even shots vs. champagne. But they’re both quick to embrace brutal violence, torture, and a complete disregard for procedures and authority figures. It hardly matters that Hobbs is humanized through his 9-year-old daughter and that Shaw is humanized through his incarcerated mum (Helen Mirren); their strong-arm tactics drastically counteract any details designed to soften their aggression.

The one concept that does seem to work, albeit intermittently, is comic relief. Even the conspicuously attractive foil (so perfectly put together – from false lashes to frequently reapplied makeup – that the script feels the need to address that observation so as to diffuse incredulity) has little effect on the leads’ destructiveness. The continual back-and-forth insults are the highlight of the partnership; at least Johnson and Statham have enough chemistry to garner a few laughs. But these interludes merely fill the time between action sequences, which have become so obnoxiously farfetched that they border on boring.

Skirmishes appear a greater percentage CG than actual fight choreography, while even the car chases – which were once a staple of the early chapters – are so over-the-top that it’s debatable whether real vehicles were utilized. When believable stunts are no longer in play, there’s no tension or severity; most of the action is thoroughly ineffective. And while the standard formula (along the lines of “Mission: Impossible crossed with 007, but dumber) grows tiresome quickly, the pacing seems disinterested in influencing the momentum; there’s enough filler and fluff here to furnish a futon factory.

“It’s working! It’s working!” cries a mechanic as he fixes an unfixable device with no suitable tools at his disposal. The idiocy of the plot is entirely expected, as are the save-the-world antics, the increasingly goofy showdowns, and the strangely protracted 48-hour countdown (which finds the protagonists chartering flights from London to Moscow and from Moscow to Samoa, completing complex missions at every turn, and watching sunsets during what feels like several weeks) before the earth’s population is at risk of devastation. But the overdramatic heroism of these cartoonish he-men becomes exhausting as they struggle to ooze cool; like in “xXx: Return of Xander Cage,” they’re written to be phony role models, valuing teamwork, maintaining positive relationships with family members, and even reconciling with estranged loved ones, all while they shoot and kill and maim. It wouldn’t feel out of line if they found time to save some toddlers from a burning orphanage en route to a supervillain’s remote subterraneous lair. At least “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” revels in its ability to utterly excel at stupidity.

– The Massie Twins

  • 3/10


The Fast & Furious Franchise


The Fast and the Furious (2001)

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Fast and Furious (2009)

Fast Five (2011)

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Furious 7 (2015)

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

F9 (The Fast Saga) (2021)

Fast X (2023)