‘Hobbs & Shaw’ needs a tune up

Vanessa Kirby, Jason Statham, and Dwayne Johnson in Hobbs & Shaw

“It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.” – Steve Goodier

I must be the only person on the planet who is getting less on board with the Fast and Furious movies as they go on. The more they steer away from their street crime roots, the more they lose me. The latest is Hobbs & Shaw, which teams together two of the supporting characters from the past couple films for an outing that’s bombastic and fleeting. 

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) get drafted into action for a new mission where they’ll have to work together despite not getting on particularly well. Said mission involves the latter’s younger sister (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 operative who’s intercepted a lethal virus but has been framed for the deaths of her teammates and is on the run. They are tasked with finding her, but she is pursed by the terrorist group responible for the situation who want the pathogen. They are led by Brixton (Idris Elba), a cybernetically-enhanced super soldier who has history with Shaw.

Considering the (once) grounded series the movie is playing out in, this is all just so utterly ridiculous and stupid. Granted this kind of shift can happen when things go on for so long – just look at Death Wish compared to its sequels – but the absurdities just pile. Partway through, we find out that the bad guys are somehow able to spread fake news about our heroes that the public believes at face value. Then we have the reveal that these villains are actually one part of some larger organization, complete with a supreme leader shrouded in mystery. One’s mileage may vary on whether this is the “good” kind of stupid, but I didn’t take to it.

Also, the film draws itself out too much and goes on for too long. I don’t know when exactly it was that this franchise decided it was so self-important to warrant such a length, but this has no business having such a high runtime. As for what all that time is filled with, it’s a whole lot of short-lived. This really is the kind of disposable movie that leaves very little, if any, lasting impression. I remember more about the Statham film I saw 6 years ago than I do this one.

What I can recall is that Kirby quite good and the standout of the film, although flashbacks show her and Statham’s characters as close in age while as adults they very much are not. Johnson, Statham, and Elba are their reliable selves, as are a few supporting players that pop up here and there. And the fight direction, now under the eye of David Leitch, is noticeably sharp. 

The “Fast and the Furious” is becoming “The Slow and the Tedious.” Going back to the series roots is most likely not the game plan for the next installment, but if they somehow can manage to un-jump the shark, things could rev back up.

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