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‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ (review)

Produced by Dwayne Johnson,
Jason Statham, Chris Morgan, Hiram Garcia
Screenplay by Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce
Story by Chris Morgan
Directed by David Leitch
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham,
Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren

 

Action movies in the 80s and 90s were a different breed compared to what has largely been the norm in more recent decades. Being much sillier than what we have grown accustomed to, the action blockbusters of yesteryear often relied on ridiculously convoluted plots and absurdly over-the-top action that was rooted in anything but reality.

As such, many naysayers were undoubtedly happy to see the decline of these bloated blockbusters, but they nonetheless still have dedicated fans who appreciate them for their undeniable entertainment value.

One of the staples of 80s and 90s action cinema was the buddy cop comedy, a subgenre that is a rarity on contemporary release schedules, but it just so happens that Hobbs & Shaw fits into that subgenre quite neatly.

Thanks to their individual charisma and excellent chemistry, The Rock and Statham have been some of the notable highlights in the later installments of the Fast & Furious franchise, and it was seemingly the positive reception of their characters and the enduring appeal of their quarrelling that laid the foundation for Hobbs & Shaw.

As ludicrous as it perhaps seems to the uninitiated, it does, in fact, make perfect sense to do a spin-off film created on the basis of two charismatic actors and their onscreen chemistry. Never taking themselves seriously, Johnson and Statham continuously poke fun at each other and themselves, not only in terms of their characters in the Fast & Furious franchise, but also in terms of the stereotypes associated with their careers and the type of characters they choose to play, and their banter is immensely entertaining to watch.

Vanessa Kirby ensures that Shaw’s sister Hattie is an enjoyable addition to the mix, her character feeling as capable as the two leads in the many entertaining action sequences. Idris Elba also delivers as he clearly has a great time playing the overpowered and caricatural super villain whose abilities are as absurd as the rest of the plot. Feeling like it was randomly selected from a catalogue of ridiculous vintage action blockbuster plots, the plot of Hobbs & Shaw is merely a regurgitation of something seen a myriad of times before, but then who actually watches these films for their plot?

While the film is automatically forgiven for its nonsensical plot because it fits the bill for the type of film you have come to expect from the Fast & Furious franchise, it does, however, struggle in other areas. Like most action films in recent years, Hobbs & Shaw is well over two hours long, and similar to so many other action films of late, this bloated runtime exacerbates the pacing issues the film has anytime it slows down in between the action set pieces.

The lack of narrative cohesion is particularly evident in the third act of the film, which seems tacked on after the hefty showdown at the end of the second act feels like a finale in itself. While there is still enjoyment to be found in the final third, the film is ultimately much too long at 2 hours and 15 minutes, resulting in a frequent loss of momentum that is only salvaged by the commanding charisma of the leads and director David Leitch’s understanding of how to piece a good action scene together.

After the hard-hitting but convoluted Atomic Blonde and giving his maximum effort with Deadpool 2, David Leitch is establishing himself as a filmmaker who can deliver entertaining popcorn flicks. Much like the classic cinema snack is of questionable nutritional value, Hobbs & Shaw is similarly insubstantial, but what Leitch’s first and third directorial efforts lack in substance, they make up for with surface level entertainment value, and sometimes that is all you need to leave the theater with a smile on your face.

Verdict: 7 out of 10.

 

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