Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw ★★★☆☆

I’m pretty sure at this point, you all know exactly what you’re getting with a Fast and Furious film. You can expect speed and anger if the title of the franchise is anything to go by. And yeah, I think that’s really all you get when you think about it. Lots of scowling and heavy-handed masculinity sandwiched between over-the-top car chases. But it’s proven to be one of Hollywood’s most lucrative franchises, so it’s showing no signs of, ahem, slowing down.

Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw is the first of presumably a long line of F&F spin-offs and puts the spotlight entirely onto the titular characters Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a pair of bald tough guys introduced in the main film series. The film follows the once-enemies forging an unlikely alliance to take on a genetically-enhanced terrorist (Idris Elba). Also along for the ride is Shaw’s sister (Vanessa Kirby), which has proven to be one of the film’s most amusing talking points – despite her being over 20 years younger than the Stath, the film supposes that they are the same age which is either an ego-kissing compliment to Statham or an insult to the wonderful Kirby. Either way, on a plot level, it’s hilariously far-fetched.

Hobbs & Shaw is a film that is difficult to review, and it almost feels redundant to do so. The franchise’s blindly loyal fans aren’t going to care what anyone says and will throw all of their money at Hobbs & Shaw without question. Those who aren’t going to watch the film know that they’re not going to watch it from the franchise alone – so why do they care what I say. With that all said, what is there to say about the film?

Not a lot. If I were to sum up Hobbs & Shaw in a word, it would be ‘fine’. I can’t really knock the stupidity of the film because it’s so self-aware. Those who criticise the F&F’s franchise for the outlandish, over-the-top set-pieces are totally missing the point. I would argue that these films are actually subliminally spoofing the franchise they exist within. And it works. It’s just hilariously ridiculous and it knows it. The casting of two of the most self-aware and underrated comedy actors – Johnson and Statham – only reinforces this feel to the film. The pair are brilliant here and make the film entertaining at the very least.

Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby offer some solid support, with Kirby providing the franchise with a strong female character that feels pretty rare in these sorts of petrol-head films. Helen Mirren provides some real acting chops while cameos from Rob Delaney, Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart bring some added laughs. But you don’t give a shit about any of that, do you? You want to know what the action is like. And it goes without saying that it’s great, explosive fun – and, of course, preposterously silly. But it is well choreographed and the CGI is perfectly decent. I shan’t spoil any of the set pieces because let’s face it, they’re really all these films have going for them.

So, is Hobbs & Shaw worth your time? Well, it is flawed. First and foremost, it’s too bloody long and even then feels like there’s far too much crammed into what is essentially just a brainless car film. There’s far too much plot for a film that doesn’t need it and it does get tedious. But hey, there are worse ways to spend a mindless 2 and a bit hours. If you hate the franchise then obviously this isn’t going to convert you, and if you love the franchise you’ll probably consider this a masterpiece. If like me, you’re pretty neutral towards Fast & Furious, you’ll find something here to like.

Sam Love

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