Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Film Review: Hobbs and Shaw

Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Acceptable 
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

For those who thought that the Fast and Furious franchise was too grounded in reality, I give you: Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.

This movie is like they took the Fast and Furious formula and maxed out the over-the-top action and decreased any sense of drama.

The movie picks up after The Fate of the Furious.  Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is enjoying a brief break from being the US Government's best tracker.  Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is getting into all kinds of violent trouble as a sort of underworld James Bond.  However, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) is part of a British spy team that has just recovered a deadly virus when they are attacked by Brixton (Idris Elba), or as he calls himself "Black Superman."  Her team is killed and she escapes with the virus to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.  Hobbs and Shaw are called in and will have to put aside their differences in order to save the day (I'll give you three guesses if they do or not).

Director David Leitch is no stranger to the action genre with films like Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde.  It is clear that his action aesthetic tends towards the outrageous.  And there is plenty of that in Hobbs and Shaw.  If you are simply here to watch things go "boom" while muscly men fight, then this is your kind of movie.  And there is nothing wrong with enjoying some mindless, action spectacle.  The movie is smooth and slick, but lacking substance.  This is not the kind of movie that reaches any depth like Die Hard or Lethal Weapon.  Heck, this movie doesn't even get to the depth of the regular Fast and Furious movies.  But to be fair to the movie, it isn't really trying to be anything other than what it is.

A great deal of the film's enjoyment comes from the chemistry between the leads.  Both Johnson and Statham vie for the alpha-male status, which causes them to constantly seek to one-up the other.  Most of the energy of this relationship comes from their internal competition which inadvertently leads to greater respect.  This movie is at least insightful enough to see that men often becomes friends after being adversaries because the struggle reveals in the other qualities that are admired.  Kirby holds her own very well with these two larger-than-life characters.  She brings a strong feminine quality to the story.  The movie does a good job of tapping into the "rescue the princess" story without ever having her feel like a damsel in distress.  Elba is always charismatic, but he is given so little to work with here that it feels like a missed opportunity.

The script by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce feels like it was written around the actors' personalities and finds no way to challenge them.  It also feels like Leitch allowed for a lot of improvisation.  There are some surprisingly pleasant cameos that overstay their welcome because the actors drive the joke into the ground.  The film tries to tap into the classic Fast and Furious theme of family, but to less success.

The greatest flaw in the movie has to do with events from the previous in the franchise.


Shaw was introduced in Furious 7 as the main villain and he has now been rehabilitated in this movie as a full hero.  This wouldn't be as big of a problems except for the fact they never address his greatest act of villainy: he murdered Han.

Han Seul-oh was one of the most charming members of Toretto "family."  He was not accidentally killed or caught in the crossfire.  He was the victim of premeditated murder by Shaw.  This is a fact that was resting at the back of my mind the entire movie.  Whenever he grew closer to Hobbs, all I could think was: "He's a murderer."  It would be one thing if this was addressed and Shaw went through some kind of atonement/redemption.  But no.  Thor: Ragnarok had this same problem in making the mass murderer Loki into a hero.  I feel like Michael Corleone at the end of The Godfather walking up his brother-in-law, except I walk up to Shaw and say, "You have to answer for Han Seul-Oh."


If you want to spend your money on some big, bold, shoot-em-up (and I often do), then Hobbs and Shaw will work for you

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