Directed By David Leitch
Starring – Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba
The Plot – Lawman Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and outcast Deckard Shaw (Statham) form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain (Elba) threatens the future of humanity.
Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong adult language
– Signature Style. As opposed to the cinematography of the previous franchise installments, “Hobbs & Shaw” is privy to a combination of geographic variety and intense shot compositions that vividly pay homage to the 90’s action thrillers that practically defied gravity. The chase sequences are easy to register, and more importantly don’t rely on shaking camera effects to sell the appeal of its adrenaline, and the music video style of neon lighting and absorbing cultural qualities constantly gives the movie a big stage presence that our colorful protagonists must adapt to frequently.
– Speaking of which, the action set pieces in the film are every bit as challenging in dynamic as they are diverse in props and creativity. This not only keeps the set designs fresh for innovation when it comes to methods of torture for our leading duo, but also allows them plenty of moments to chew the scenery when it comes to reacting to what they are being put through. It’s also important that no conflict or solution repeats itself, and this benefit helps us to see the intelligence factor between Hobbs and Shaw, as well as continue to build the chemistry between them, which grows before our very eyes. Some of these sequences are a little long for my taste, but the movie’s never-slow-down mentality continuously keeps our blood pumping throughout scenes of destruction and total chaos, leaving us very few moments of breath along the way.
– Bonding buddies. To say the work of Johnson and Statham is electric would be an understatement. Without question, the film’s biggest strength is the on-going rivalry between the two, which gives us plenty of laugh-out-loud moments of digs at one another, as well as plenty of moments of vulnerability that broke down the walls of masculinity that we the audience have become conditioned to. Both articulately balance this level of brute and humor exceptionally, and carve out two characters who are not only equal in storytelling importance, but also in the capabilities that each one has when the proper situation calls for it. Aside from these two, I also loved the work of Vanessa Kirby as this kick-ass M-I-6 agent gone rogue. It’s not often in this series that we get a hard-nosed female protagonist to counterbalance the testosterone that sometimes smothers these films, but Kirby’s snappy speed in execution and unintentional sexuality makes her a devilishly dangerous force to be reckoned with.
– Surprising cameos. In addition to the main cast that provide endlessly, the incorporation of some pretty big names in cameo roles were a pleasant gift that forced me to keep my eyes open at all times. I won’t spoil who they are, but one has been in a previous Fast and Furious film, and the two new ones are two of the biggest celebrities working in Hollywood today. What’s essential about their inclusions is that they aren’t their for facial fan service, but instead provide pivotal links to Hobbs and Shaw, both in and out of the field of danger. Even the case with one surprise star, it gives me a taste at this guy being in a movie with Johnson that I’ve always wanted, and proves that their chemistry is every bit as strong as the duo we’re left to spend over two hours with.
– Self-aware. This is a film that knows what it’s trying to be, and even more respectful, has no shame in the batshit evolution that its franchise has taken to this point. My measure for this is in some awfully cheesy dialogue, which allude to the point that this installment is the measuring stick for crossing over to the other side of sanity, giving us a series of crazy scenarios and big dumb fun that practically oozes out of every pore of the movie. Whether you like or hate this movie, you won’t be able to shake yourself of the intentionally fun time that this story and characters have with one another, and from the opening split-screen introduction to our two leads, we are shown the diversity between their backgrounds, which allow them to clash heads through no shortage of one-upmanship.
– Perfect director. David Leitch is someone who perfected his uniqueness in the 2016 film “Deadpool”, and that sense of personality in the heat of the moment, as well as his capabilities with shooting action sequences is definitely carried over to his latest work here. As I mentioned earlier, the camera angle versatility showcasing some crisp, believable fight choreography dazzles, and his ability to instill moments of awkwardness to the dynamic of this friendly rivalry that exists within these moments of saving the world allows it to break the fourth wall of conflict in the same manner that “Deadpool” did so unapologetically. While not as big of a slam dunk as that movie was, “Hobbs & Shaw” demanded and received a director who values action and humor hand-in-hand, and it’s in that desire to know what it wants that allows the most off-the-rails movie of the franchise to also feel like the most precise in terms of where it should be in tone.
– Plodding pacing. This starts to catch up around the halfway mark in the movie, as the abundance of action sequences start to catch up to the fluidity of the story’s minimal exposition script. It’s not that there’s even too many action scenes, but just that too much time is devoted to each of them, erasing the lines of the three act structure in a way that minimalizes the momentum that the movie continuously must start over building for itself. Likewise, the film’s 133 minute run time ends prematurely so four different post credit scenes can play out to shop another Hobbs and Shaw movie. If it were up to me, I would cut the break-in scene in the middle of the second act, and just spend more time on further fleshing out Hobbs return to Samoa, and the effect that his vanishing had on the members of his family.
– It’s a cartoon superhero film. Debating logic in a Fast and Furious movie is like counting calories at Mcdonalds; there’s no point. But the lack of logic associated with elements in the film is such a stretch that there’s simply some things I couldn’t overlook. Why is it a cartoon? gravity practically disappears from this world, giving us scenes of a helicopter pulling five pick-up trucks, no consequences in the world of law enforcement or injuries, despite some insanely devastating crashes for the latter, and voice-only antagonist leader, which inadvertantly pays homage to Inspector Gadget’s Dr. Claw. Why is it a superhero film? Genetic altering. Elba’s antagonist is made superior by a serum that makes him quicker and more dangerous. The problem is we aren’t told how this serum works or where it was even created in the first place. Beyond this, Johnson seems to be infected with it as well, as a scene involving him clotheslining a biker coming from the opposite direction apparently doesn’t snap his arm like a twig. This definitely feels like The Rock’s response to The Avengers not picking him for their team, so why get mad when you can get even?
– No urgency. The problem with making your heroes so cool is that it not only demeans the power of your antagonist, but conjures up no scenes of tension for the audience watching at home. This is the problem with Elba’s antagonist, as despite Idris doing the most he can for the role, the script simply doesn’t value him enough to make him anything other than a world-dominating baddie whose soul defining trait is his gruff vocal range that every antagonist seems to have. Johnson and Statham can’t be bothered in the least with feeling intimidated by their opposition. So much so that I feel the “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions” song by The Lonely Island was written exclusively for them.
– Plot convenience. It’s pretty cool that Johnson’s character conveniently knew not only where Elba’s gang of thugs were going to strike big during the third act conflict, but also what time they were going to be there, giving him ample time to prepare for such a force. Likewise, I’m thankful that all of his elite governmental group’s computers are so easy to hack into that three different non-governmental workers manage to do so in this film. If I went into the virus itself, this review would be 2000 words easily, so instead I will say this (SPOILERS…..YOU’VE BEEN WARNED) Viruses can’t be removed from a vaccuum. Once they are introduced to a body, removing them completely is impossible.
My Grade: 6/10 or C