Director: David Leitch
Writers: Chris Morgan and Drew Pierce
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba
When a mysterious organisation poses a threat to all humanity, two former enemies – loyal lawman Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and lawless former elite British operative Deckard Shaw (Statham) are forced to reluctantly join forces in an attempt to save the world.
Well, after their blossoming bromance in Fast & Furious 8 it was inevitable that The Rock and Stato were likely to get their own film, and here it is. Those well acquainted with the Fast & Furious and how they have become increasingly bigger, louder and dumber will know what to expect here. Or, indeed anyone who has seen any recent film starring these two shiny-headed action men will also know what to expect. Failing any of that, even someone who has been living under a rock (pun probably intended) and has literally never seen any film ever will also know what to expect just by reading the plot or seeing the poster.
We do indeed live in a time when so many mainstream films fail to even come with the smallest of surprises, those writing the big cheques want their money back (and then some) and so don’t want to take any risks; they know their target audience and want to just aim solely for them. Whether this is a good or bad thing (or perhaps not even something new) is a discussion for another time, but what it does do is make reviewing films like Hobbs & Shaw very difficult, because the names of the main actors, directors, writers etc. basically provide the review anyone needs, they are predominantly a clear indication of exactly what the film is going to be like. If approached from a truly critical perspective, then Hobbs & Shaw is inevitably going to be regarded as utterly dreadful for all the obvious reasons (and I am sure some have written that), but it does have to be analysed within the context of itself.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS CONTAIN SHAMELESS PUNS
Well, it is certainly clear that the wheels are not likely to come off the Fast & Furious franchise anytime soon as it a fast-paced, incredibly (but knowingly) stupid film that if entered into with the right frame of mind (i.e.: if the viewer takes their brain down a few gears to neutral) is an outrageously entertaining ride. This is of course a film that has absolutely no care for logic, physics or indeed anything, so providing the viewer doesn’t ever take a pit stop to try and actually find a rational explanation for anything that happens and look at the various p(l)ot holes, then they will find themselves sitting in a very comfortable passenger seat.
Despite a fairly long total race distance of 135 minutes, the plot just continuously stays in top gear, leaving very little time to check the oil and tyre pressures of the non-sensical plot which involves saving the world from a potentially deadly virus and some shady organisation that wants to genetically enhance human beings, allowing Idris Elba to become – in his words – the ‘black superman’. To do this would create severe wheel spin, so it is one road that tends to be bypassed.
Thankfully those behind the wheel, such as screenwriters Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce have decided to focus on the key aerodynamic features of the film (so not plot), which is the turbulent relationship between its two protagonists and their constant friction and childish bickering. They may have limited gears and driving modes as actors, but Johnson and Statham seem to accept this, and so not only do they tend to pick roles which suit their ‘acting styles’ but also (and crucially) they seem to really enjoy themselves. This allows the whole film to gain increasing traction, as their obvious enjoyment produces undeniable visual chemistry, making both of their characters extremely likeable (let’s just all conveniently forget that a couple of films ago Statham’s character was actually quite a nasty bad guy and just assumed he has turned a corner), and so this makes all of the film’s many (and I mean MANY) flaws just about forgivable. Johnson and Statham are having outrageous fun, and therefore so are we.
Meanwhile the rest of cast are all also enjoying themselves and joining in the fun but are merely back seat passengers while the two main stars are sitting at the front. Vanessa Kirby does admittedly have a decent sized role and gets to also deliver some good lines and kick some ass. There are also funny cameos from Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart – the latter also serving a role as a key plot device. As the bad guy to try and force our heroes off the road is Idris Elba in a very much two-dimensional role (yes he does have some history with Statham’s character, but it doesn’t really add much), Elba himself seems to be on complete autopilot throughout and is even more forgettable than usual. Though his character is supposed to be the superhuman one, Hobbs and Shaw are also pretty much indestructible (whoops, nearly tried to apply some logic there – my mistake).
Indeed, it does feel that when the script was in the garage being developed that Hobbs & Shaw was a case of set pieces first, plot components later as the set pieces are big and often ridiculous (as has become the norm for this franchise) but are outrageous fun – the Samoa set finale a particular treat. It will never be on the top step of the podium for originality (or well, anything) but all involved in Hobbs and Shaw never attempt that, they know what race they are in, and they truly stick to the racing line – making for an outrageously entertaining trip. With everyone having so much fun and a few plot points intentionally left open, expect all involved to return for another lap.
A big, loud and incredibly daft testosterone fuelled ride; Hobbs & Shaw makes sure to play to its strengths and never veer of a tried and tested course, and in doing so is one outrageously entertaining, fast-paced and very nonsensical film.