Saturday, 27 June 2020

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

The first eight Fast and Furious films dropped on Netflix Canada around last week, so what do you do? You go on a binge-watching session of course. Hobbs and Shaw was the only one missing, so I decided to give it the honor of being reviewed by yours truly. Ok, not really an honor. People don't exactly rush to read these reviews, but whatever.

Hobbs and Shaw were a surprisingly delightful combination in Fate Of The Furious, and the producers, realizing this decided to give them their own solo movie. Given how this franchise has changed since 2001, spin-off films are certainly welcome. I am still holding out hope for a Tyrese/Ludacris spin-off, another Tokyo Drift film, etc.

Set two years after Fate Of The Furious, we open to Hattie Shaw and her team of MI6 agents securing the snowflake virus from the terrorist organization, known as Eteon. The mission goes wrong, as they are intercepted by Brixton Lore, an Eteon agent with cybernetic enhancements. He kills the entire MI6 team, but Hattie manages to escape. Brixton, using Eteon's ability to manipulate the media sets up Hattie for the murders, forcing her to go on the run. The CIA informs both Deckard Shaw and Luke Hobbs, forcing the two to work together to secure the virus and stop Eteon from using it.

The titular characters still hate each other, and constantly bicker, for our amusement of course. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are clearly having fun with this film. The banter between the two of them is fun to watch. Of course, both of them can hold their own with the action sequences. The storylines between the two men parallel each other with the franchise's signature theme of family. Now, while in the universe, director David Leitch injects the film with a different style, framing shots differently than the other films, and this is much more comedic than the others. That said, the use of family felt a bit forced in some places while it came off naturally in others.

Idris Elba chews up the scenery as Brixton, the film's villain. He comes off as an intimidating presence and can hold his own when he has to go against Hobbs and Shaw at the same time. I do wish that we spent more time with him, and the filmmakers employed the "show, not tell" approach when addressing his past with Shaw. Vanessa Kirby delivers as the badass female character, and I appreciated that the filmmakers made her a more complex character, exploring the relationship between her and her brother, but I didn't care for the romantic story between her and Hobbs. It was distracting and came off awkward.

I loved that the ridiculous aspects of this series have been completely embraced. The action sequences are a testament to that. That said, the film did run a bit long that in the final climax, I almost nodded off. A few shining moments here and there, but overall, the sequences began to blend together. It was a case of diminishing returns.

Fun cameos from Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart don't add much, but they were no less hilarious. The two of them were clearly having fun and were sensational scene stealers. Helen Mirren returns as Queenie Shaw, who has been imprisoned for some reason in between Fast 8 and this one. She is also a fun character that we don't see much off. As she is the o ly cast member in this film that will be in Fast & Furious 9, I'll chalk that up to filming conflicts.

Hobbs and Shaw isn't the best film in the franchise, but the performances and over the top action sequences provide the entertainment you expect from these films.

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