Friday, 2 August 2019

Review: Fast & Furious - Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw
Cert: 12A / 136 mins / Dir. David Leitch / Trailer

I can't believe you've come here to read this and decide whether you should go and see Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw. Even if you've only seen one of these before, you already know where you stand on this. The trailer tells you all you need to know, I promise you.

But still. This paragraph would usually be a brief setup/synopsis, although that's barely needed here. Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are the muscle-bound, chalk-and-cheese odd couple who basically flirt with each other for over two hours. They're up against Brixton (Idris Elba), a cybernetically enhanced mercenary (think The Winter Soldier but with more sarcasm) as he tries to recover a weaponised virus for his mysterious employer. The virus has been stolen by Shaw's sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI-6 agent who did this to prevent it falling into the wrong hands (ie Brixton's), and has been helpfully framed for murder as a result. This film is basically an extended fight-scene, albeit one that's way more entertaining than it has any real right to be.


A solid contender for 2020's Academy Award in the 'Screenplay Apparently Written By A 15yr Old' category, there's an action sequence every twelve minutes and industrial amounts of exposition between that really don't matter. With the likes of Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Eddie Marsan, Rob Delaney and Kevin Hart all straining to get on the cast list for the hell of it, this sequel-baited strand could well turn into the Carry On of action cinema.

What's perhaps most interesting (if that's the correct word), is that after eight full installments the first Fast & Furious spin-off movie is centered around characters who were only introduced in parts five (Johnson) and six (Statham). This alone should tell you that this is an F&F flick in name only, to the point where there's a surprising lack of vehicle chasing going on. In fact, while the main series has always leaned toward high tech when it comes to show-cars, with the voice-activated attack drones, smart-bikes and cybernetic super soldiers on display in Hobbs & Shaw, the series just took the leap into soft sci-fi. It is second only to Hellboy in 2019's chart of cinematic ridiculousness. Yes, it is that daft.


The 12A certificate ensures that this is a largely bloodless affair of course, despite more gun-related deaths than you'd care to count. As a result, the fight scenes have editing with cuts so quick you stand more chance of seeing Jason Statham control his own accent than you would a punch actually landing or a single bullet going in. That said, the script which begins with a reliably grubby "nice tats" line to a female tattoo artist also includes such quips as no fuckin' way, bitch, arsehole, balls and wanker. The 'A' in 12A really does stand for 'advisory' more than ever before*1. Take your 8yr old to this and reap precisely what you sow.

But perhaps best of all, writer Chris Morgan seems to believe there are stretches of road from St Paul's Cathedral in London where you could run for five minutes without being picked up by a single CCTV camera. This might actually be the funniest joke in the whole thing. Although there's another screen-nod to Greggs for the 2019 list, which is also outstanding work.


Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is good. In places it's even great. Everything you expect and fear it to be*2, it's loud, funny, makes no sense*3 and is indelibly cheesy. Director David Leitch is not going to change your life, and doesn't claim to try. If you're along for the ride, Hobbs & Shaw is great fun, and is not even going to attempt to change your pre-existing opinions, so leave any baggage back in the car park.

But it's also at least half an hour longer than it needs to be*5, and a more cynical reviewer might remark that the it has the absolute gall to evoke the great Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner during Elba's final scene, before the movie limps to a damp squib of an ending.

I couldn't possibly comment

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
As much as I enjoyed Hobbs & Shaw, I really can't emphasis enough that it's not a Fast & Furious™ film. This is M:I-Lite with dick-jokes, although it does still carry that slightly unhealthy obsession with Fahh'mly.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
If you're going to see it at all, sure.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
The film will lose quite a bit of punch on the journey to the small screen, but if you're a collector of the series then you'll be happy to have it on the shelf all the same.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
With the best will in the world, no.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
That's entirely possible.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.
Which, for a movie such as this, is an absolutely unforgivable sin

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Well there's a scripted Death Star reference, a Han & Chewie reference, and also Rogue One Vader's in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although credit where it is undeniably due, the 'Michael Oxmaul' routine is a great joke, and while I chuckled more than I'd like to admit throughout Hobbs & Shaw, this was the one gag which caused me to shamelessly guffaw. [ BACK ]

*2 How come Vanessa Kirby's Hattie is an absolute bad-ass up until the point where Hobbs and Shaw have a conversation where Hobbs points out that she's an absolute bad-ass and from then onwards she's just The Girl One? The movie managed to leave behind gratuitous shots of women in swimsuits after the first twenty minutes, and I expected better, frankly. [ BACK ]

*3 All the bad guys' firearms have activator-chips Because Technology.
"We can get the weapons offline for six minutes!" says Hattie.
"Six minutes could be all we need!" says Deckard.
So that'll be why the Samoan gang*4 are squaring off against the goons in bike-leathers in pitch blackness, it kicks off, then all of a sudden it's broad daylight and they're still fighting using fists and sticks and the guns come back online about ten minutes later when they're chasing a helicopter off a cliff? Okay then… [ BACK ]

*4 Don't even ask how Dwayne Johnson's (a notably proud Samoan) screen-family are shown to be living in Samoa when more than half of them are clearly from New Zealand over two thousand miles away. I know they're all Polynesian, that doesn't mean they're all the same for actual fuck's sake…
(and yeah, I did a footnote-within-a-footnote for this one. That's how committed I am to calling out lazy casting-racism. I mean when I notice it, admittedly.) [ BACK ]

*5 No really, this is too fucking long for what it is. And if your bladder is strong enough there are three during-credits scenes plus one afterward. I have to be honest and admit that I didn't see the final one as The Need To Pee™ proved greater. Seriously, you know those ones where you realise about halfway through that you should have timed yourself, and then you slowly realise that you realised this when you weren't even halfway through and it's not like you've even been drinking booze and dear god will it ever stop? Oh, just me then. TMI. Okay, as you were... [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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