Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

 

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Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham join forces in a spin-off of Fast & Furious and face Idris Elba’s Armageddo-Man.

   

Hobbs & Shaw

Grudge match: Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham 

  

The franchise that is Fast & Furious has a lot to live up to. Each episode in the series – eight in all – has surpassed the adrenalin rush and escapist quotient of the last. And with the phenomenon grossing over five billion dollars worldwide, Universal Pictures are not going to give up on it lightly. So the recipe remains the same: a team of daredevil petrol heads defy the laws of physics to pull off impossible missions while retaining an integral sense of ‘family’. Hobbs & Shaw is not a direct sequel, but a spin-off featuring federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who first appeared in Fast & Furious 5 (2011), and his English nemesis Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who's been around since Fast & Furious 6 (2013). The director is David Leitch, a former stuntman and stunt coordinator who exhibited his directorial chops on Atomic Blonde (2017) and Deadpool 2 (2018). So, the accent is going to be on hand-to-hand combat, along with a lot of banter.

 

The high-concept that scenarists Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce have drawn up is anything but straightforward. A doomsday virus dubbed ‘The Snowflake’, designed to wipe out most of humankind, is apprehended in London by a unit of MI6 operatives. But seconds before they can secure it, a cyber-genetically enhanced gunman, Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba), breaks up the party. However, just before he can steal the virus, MI6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) swallows the capsule and goes on the run. Then Brixton Lorr leaks a fabricated news bulletin that indicts Hattie for the theft and the bloodbath that led up to it. As far as the CIA is concerned, there are only two men in the world with the resources to track Hattie down and outwit Brixton and his army. The problem is that those two men are Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw – and they hate each other’s guts. Furthermore, Deckard is Hattie’s brother and somebody she would rather never see again. Then it gets really complicated…

 

One does not go to an F&F movie expecting subtlety. Just as Brixton Lorr begs the question, “Who’s gonna stop me?” the camera introduces a split-screen of Hobbs and Shaw going about their morning ritual. Outside of Hobbs’ kitchen the sun is beating down; outside of Shaw’s, the rain is pummelling the windows. As Hobbs pushes up a barbell, Shaw pushes up the lever of his cappuccino machine. These men operate in different ways, but they are both highly effective at what they do. There is a lot of locker-room badinage between the two, none of which could be described as Wildean, while the film’s dystopian premise of chemical Armageddon is more than a little queasy. There’s also way too many sequences of highly unpleasant torture, abuse that would kill any ordinary human being. But the stunts – and it’s the stunts that audiences come for – certainly deliver the goods, regardless of one’s suspension of the physically possible. Even before things get truly ludicrous, the sight of Idris Elba running down the side of London’s Leadenhall Building – with Vanessa Kirby on his shoulders – sets the bar immeasurably high. And the gags come thick and fast – such as when Shaw gives Hobbs the nom de plume of Mike Oxmall (you have to say it out loud) when drawing up a fake passport. This is lads’ entertainment for either gender and, while lacking the sheer exhilaration of the last few films, it does dish up considerable bang for your buck.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza González, Cliff Curtis, Helen Mirren, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Su'a, Joe Anoa'i, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, Rob Delaney, Felicity Dean, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart.

 

Dir David Leitch, Pro Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Chris Morgan and Hiram Garcia, Screenplay Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce, Ph Jonathan Sela, Pro Des David Scheunemann, Ed Christopher Rouse, Music Tyler Bates, Costumes Sarah Evelyn Bram.

 

Seven Bucks Productions/Chris Morgan Productions-Universal Pictures.

135 mins. UK/USA. 2019. Rel: 1 August 2019. Cert. 12A.