Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw
Realistically, we shouldn’t be here. What started eighteen years ago as a racing movie with bromance in its heart – Point Break with cars – The Fast and the Furious franchise is now eight movies in, has earned over $5 billion dollars at the box office and broken all laws of physics in the process. We’ve now, thanks to memorable characters from previous instalments, been blessed with a spin-off, but will the gravity-defying magic sustain itself long enough for it to be successful?
The answer, in short, is yes. Following on from the last four movies in the Fast franchise, the studio is keen on keeping the ridiculousness of it all flowing, whilst just stopping short of looking directly down the barrel of the camera and winking at the audience (although they come pretty damn close). Whilst Hobbs and Shaw may not be a perfect movie, it is certainly one of the more enjoyable experiences to be had in the cinema this year, a self-aware, if inelegant, summer blockbuster.
After being framed for the theft of a virus by Brixton Lore (Elba), MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Kirby) has no choice but to go on the run. In order to get her back, the CIA recruits DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and Hattie’s brother Deckard (Statham), to retrieve her, facing off against Brixton in the process.
It’s a fairly standard action movie plot, involving henchmen and MacGuffins, but it is also almost entirely impossible to spoil. It’s a testament to the direction of David Leitch, who also worked on John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2, that the action of this movie speaks louder than the words in the script. Within fifteen minutes, we’ve had three action scenes - two simultaneously - all visceral and compelling in their own ways. The film makes a point, several times, of the two characters’ different fighting styles; Hobbs enjoys throwing people into walls whilst Shaw is much sleeker in his movements, but Leitch now has a deft hand with action, and both actors are served well in their departments.
There are, of course, a few problems with the movie, namely its runtime. Clocking in at 135 minutes, it overstays it’s welcome by perhaps 20-30 minutes. Whilst the action scenes are equally spread and always enjoyable to watch (Brixton has one sick bike), many, many scenes consist of Hobbs and Shaw simply throwing barbs at one another, and, although initially enjoyable, the insults wear thin after hearing them for the umpteenth time, and a little fat could be trimmed off the edges.
It being a Fast and Furious movie, there is also a disposition for casual sexism, albeit unmaliciously. Kirby could be better served as simply being someone’s sister/daughter/love interest, and yes, there is a shot of a woman’s rear end – whether or not a small nod to the origins of the franchise remains to be seen, but it’s no longer 2001, and I seriously doubt fans care enough to notice the disappearance of gratuitous shots of women’s bodies.
Despite the overly long runtime, lack of well-developed female characters and a by-the-numbers script, the chemistry between its leads and the well-directed action from Leitch make it one of the more fun movies in the Fast franchise. Big, loud, (incredibly) dumb fun.