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MOVIES: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw - Review

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It’s undeniable at this point that the Fast and Furious franchise has become a mainstay in action cinema, constantly evolving from its humble origins as a street racing movie. At least for now Vin Diesel-less, Hobbs & Shaw positions two of the franchise’s most popular newest characters as a dynamic duo in their own film, built off the back of the chemistry that both Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham shared in past films. There’s no mention of any of the Torretto family here and the film itself works on its own nicely as a standalone action film – you don’t have to be familiar with the rest of the franchise as it’s clearly different and clearly going for its own thing, whilst sharing similar DNA to what has helped the core movies work so well.

David Leitch has made a name for himself in the action genre over the past few years since his work with Chad Stahelski on John Wick, which saw the return to form of Keanu Reeves. Whilst Stahelski has stayed with the franchise Leitch has moved out on his own, hopping to Atomic Blonde, and then to Deadpool 2, his kinetic style of action making the perfect choice for Hobbs & Shaw, a movie where both co-stars are constantly trying to out do each other, and for everything that Johnson does, Statham must essentially one-up him or at least equal him. It’s a brawling macho fest that feeds into the two actors’ egos, and it’s interesting that the film opens with a split directly down the middle of the camera, showing their wake-up routines in London and Los Angeles.

Hobbs & Shaw utilises the London setting in its first act mainly for comic effect and references to past action movies in Statham’s career, with Deckard Shaw claiming that he could have used Hobbs’ help with a bus that’s hung over a cliff edge in the Alps when Hobbs brings up an old-school Mini Cooper that he views as a perfect size for Shaw. Both Johnson and Statham have clear chemistry and the pair use the script’s constant back and forth to their advantage, and the constant one-upping that the pair are doing throughout the film almost does a good job at making that rivalry more believable. The film tacks on the theme about family as Hobbs both have their own, with Shaw insisting that he doesn’t want Hobbs’ help because it’s family business. Hobbs argues that when it’s the fate of the world at stake, it becomes his business.

Idris Elba’s antagonist, Brixton Lore is an augmented cybernetically enhanced killing machine who wants to retain a virus that MI5 Agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) injected into herself to prevent him from getting access to it, is given the thinnest of motivations, but he at least emerges as a credible threat for both Hobbs & Shaw to face, and has a justification for surviving falls that would have killed mere mortals. However, Hobbs and the two Shaw siblings have no such justification for why they are able to make it out of certain scraps alive with little more than bruises, but it shouldn’t come as any surprise given what we’ve seen in the world of Fast & Furious before. These characters are all clearly superhuman and the script doesn’t bother to hide that. Elba himself has fun though, and along with Kirby injects some life into the franchise that almost wears out its welcome of the novelty pairing of Johnson and Statham. Yet Kirby, even with a significant supporting role, is underutilised, and Eiza Gonzalez doesn’t get to do as much as she should. There are a couple of surprise cameos, but provided that you don’t look them up in advance, they will be the biggest surprises that the film has to offer.

Hobbs & Shaw works as a love letter to the action genre, referencing several Bruce Lee movies on top of Statham’s past career. The action in the film is so over the top it can’t help be fun, and despite all the predictability of the script and the lack of surprise, it never failed to at the very least be entertaining. When Idris Elba smashes through a London Bus and Johnson pulls a Captain America in trying to keep a helicopter from taking off over a cliff edge, the film relishes in its absurdity. Even if the script could be better and the soundtrack is largely unremarkable at best, the film very much knows exactly what it is and you can’t help but admire it for that. If it’s your sort of movie or if you think it’s going to be your sort of movie, you’re going to have a lot of fun with Hobbs & Shaw.

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