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Review: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Directed by: David Leitch

Premise: A spinoff of the Fast & Furious film series. Mercenaries Hobbs and Shaw (Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham) are recruited to prevent a biological weapon from falling into the hands of a terrorist organization.

What Works: Hobbs & Shaw is a spinoff of the Fast & Furious series but this film is far departed from the street racing of the early movies or even the heist and spy riffs of the later entries. Aside from its title characters, Hobbs & Shaw has less in common with any of the other Fast & Furious movies and more in common with the campy James Bond films of the Roger Moore era like The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker. It has the same outlandishness but also a similar sense of fun. At its best, Hobbs & Shaw is a blast to watch because it is a gonzo action movie that turns everything up to eleven in an effort to put on a show. The movie has a few terrific set pieces with fight choreography and special effects that are on par with other Hollywood action spectacles. But what sets Hobbs & Shaw apart from the other entries in this franchise and from other Hollywood action movies more generally is its sense of humor. This is a buddy action film and as in a lot of these kinds of movies the title characters of Hobbs & Shaw are an odd couple; Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs is a large muscular lawman who is a blunt object whereas Jason Statham’s Shaw is a slim and efficient fighter. Their opposing personalities and physical appearances make Hobbs and Shaw distinct characters and Johnson and Statham are a great pairing. These men don’t like each other and Johnson and Statham turn up the machismo, lobbing insults while trying to outdo each other. The actors are very funny but also self-aware; all this macho posturing comes with a wink and a nod. That humor and personality extend into the action scenes and Hobbs & Shaw is fun in a way that’s reminiscent of the 1980s action movies of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

What Doesn’t: Hobbs & Shaw crams too much into one movie. The film is way too long. There is a great 100 minute film in here but Hobbs & Shaw is saddled with exposition that explores the characters’ backstories. Hobbs and Shaw are each estranged from members of their family and the story is about them reconciling and finding their way home. This continues the Fast & Furious franchise’s ongoing family theme but these subplots aren’t done very well in part because the film is so overstuffed. The family reconciliation doesn’t have much emotional impact and the later action scenes lose their edge and energy because the film overstays its welcome. 

Bottom Line: Hobbs & Shaw is the kind of movie that makes for good viewing in the dog days of summer. It’s silly but the filmmakers know that and have fun with this genre and with these characters. Like a lot of contemporary spectacles, Hobbs & Shaw is overlong but it’s also much more enjoyable than a lot of recent action pictures.

Episode: #762 (August 18, 2019)