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Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw - Review

Hobbs and Shaw

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BIG, dumb and full of charm, Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw is a super-sized blockbuster that proves you can succeed with excess.

Part of the reason for this is stuntman turned director David Leitch, whose ability to orchestrate outlandish action set pieces that send your head spinning is rapidly becoming second to none. Leitch’s previous credits include Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2, both of which boasted jaw-dropping sequences that set new benchmarks in the genre.

So, who better to up the ante on a franchise that exists to top itself with ever more ridiculous and gravity-defying stunts? Leitch gleefully steps up to the challenge.

In doing so, he ensures two things: that Hobbs and Shaw feels like its own thing, rather than a Fast & Furious copycat. Sure, there’s car chases aplenty. But the emphasis here is on 007-meets-Mission: Impossible style saving the world scenarios, with a little of the old school ’80s action hero dynamics of Tango & Cash thrown in.

On top of that, Leitch succeeds in setting up a potential new franchise for its two central characters, hinting at a wider conspiracy and various criminal entities that would seem to warrant further exploration.

But anchoring it all is a knowing sense of its own absurdity. As with the Fast & Furious films, Hobbs & Shaw winks at its audience on several occasions, letting you know that they know that most of what goes on is entirely improbable. But therein lies the key to the film’s unbridled sense of fun and, to a certain extent, its rugged, rough and ready charm.

The plot is pure hokum. Former antagonists Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are forced to team up to save the world from a super virus being brandished by cyber-genetically enhanced villain Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). To complicate matters further, Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), has the bioweapon and has injected it into herself, meaning that she has just 72 hours before it is triggered.

The ensuing action-adventure takes a typically globe-trotting approach that begins in London, hops across to Russia and ends up in Samoa, adding plenty of exotic locations to the eye-candy.

As the central pairing has already shown in Fast & Furious 8 Johnson and Statham revel in the ability to wind each other up, exchanging innumerable unpleasantries and put-downs as they continually look to get one over each other. But another part of the movie’s charm lies in this uneasy chemistry, which belies the begrudging respect they have for each other.

Hobbs and Shaw are a great double act – meat-heads, for sure. But two muscle men that aren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves when occasion allows: both have family wounds to heal here and get one or two scenes to showcase some acting chops that extends beyond their physical abilities.

There’s some fun cameos, too… not least from one Leitch former collaborator, who brings those same motor-mouthed comic tendencies here, to winning effect.

But the biggest victor is the action, which somehow manages to stay fresh and exciting even at a potentially patience-testing two and a half hours. Where Michael Bay’s recent output tends to leave you feeling battered and violated (Transformers: The Last Knight), Leitch seems to have mastered the art of keeping you invested while pushing the envelope in terms of violent spectacle.

Here, he does certainly push the boundaries of the 12A certificate but he does it so audaciously, and with such a heightened sense of WTF?, that audiences should be having too much fun to really notice.

A car chase through the streets of London is, arguably, the film’s best moment and brilliantly choreographed, but several other sequences pile on the wows – not least the sight of a row of muscle cars attempting to bring down a helicopter with Johnson somehow caught in the middle of that chain.

The many, many fist fights are also breathtakingly handled and bone-crunchingly delivered, with just enough ingenuity in every one to ensure the action doesn’t feel overly repetitive.

The overall result is a wildly over the top blockbuster that genuinely thrills.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 2hrs 16mins
UK Release Date: August 1, 2019