The “Fast & Furious” movies have gone, in less than twelve movies, from veered from sublimely silly car chase flicks to simply silly. They get bigger and badder each time out, revving up the action to include international intrigue, crazier stunts, more stars and more pedal-to-the-metal action. This weekend the core franchise splinters off with the majestically titled “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.”
The new film is a showcase for two returning characters, Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), former British Special Forces assassin-turned-mercenary. But this isn’t Butch and Sundance. These guys do not like one another and with good reason. Years before Hobbs had arrested Shaw, throwing him in prison for the vehicular murder of Han Lue. Since then they have never missed an opportunity to trade blows and witty one-liners.
After cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton “I am the future of mankind.” Lore (Idris Elba) threatens to unleash a bio-hazard—“It’ll turn your body into a bag of hot soup.”—framing MI6 agent (and Shaw’s sister) Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) in the process, the titular enemies reluctantly team up.
At one point Hattie says to Hobbs, “There is nothing subtle about you,” and she may as well have been talking about the movie, not the character. “Hobbs & Shaw” is a wild rumpus of a movie. First gun shot and grenade blast happen within the first minute. First casualty and car crash in three minutes. First self-tazing and assault with a champagne bottle within five minutes.
This is the kind of movie you get when you mix and match “The Terminator,” a low-key Thanos wannabe—ie: a villain who thinks over population is destroying the world—and some bodybuilding action stars. It’s the kind of movie summer was invented for. Loud and proud, its most redeeming feature is that it will play in luxurious air-conditioned theatres on blistering hot days.
It’s a bit of fun, a generic movie that succeeds through volume, slapstick action and the charisma of its three leads. The only connection it has to “Fast & Furious,” aside from the element of community between outlaws is well represented, is in title only. “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is a vehicle for Johnson, Statham and Kirby and by the time The Rock’s mother is threatening people with her flip-flop, the movie developes a severe case of the sillies from which it (or the franchise, because, yes, this is set up for a sequel) may never recover.
“Hobbs & Shaw” manages to both rev its engine and spin its wheels, providing some hare-brained action and charming actors but not much else.