The Fast & Furious franchise is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Only in this series can a group of street racers go from stealing from the back of vans to hijacking a nuclear submarine over the course of eight movies. Basically what I’m saying is, the Fast series is all about the spectacle, no matter how absurd.
Throw into the mix two leading men who are box office gold dust, despite the fact neither man has ever played any character besides themselves, and you’ve got a clear-cut hit before the film ever opens.
So whatever I or any other critic may say, Hobbs and Shaw will be taking their money home in an exploding freight train either way, but let’s have a look regardless.
Facing an apocalypse-level virus threat, and a near indestructible super soldier, Hobbs & Shaw (Dwayne Johnson & Jason Statham, respectively) must put aside their differences to save the world, and more specifically, Shaw’s sister.
As much as I’ve said some mean things about the F&F series in the past, I do see its appeal, it lies in appealing to as broad a market as possible, but by doing that you lose a certain amount of subtlety, a concept that is completely non-existent in this film.
I also see the appeal in stars like Dwayne Johnson, he’s charismatic, good-looking and naturally funny, he also has the acting range of a teaspoon, and has never met a problem his muscles can’t solve. All of his characters meld together into an amorphous mass of mediocrity.
Let’s be honest though, no-one came into Hobbs & Shaw expecting a piece of high art, they know what to expect from any film with the Fast & Furious billing; ludicrous action, testosterone and lots of things exploding.
I will say that this film might be my favourite Fast & Furious film, but the reason for that is it doesn’t seem like a film in the series, it’s a spin-off telling a different story, and I’ll be honest, had it been a completely detached film from the franchise with new characters (as much as the actors involved can play ‘new’ characters) then I might have enjoyed it even more.
It’s very far detached from the original film about street racing, but that’s fairly par-for-the-course now, as the series hasn’t been about street racers for some time, in all the ways that make it different, make it better than the usual fare.
I remember making Mission Impossible: Fallout one of my top films of last year, and it was similar in scale, but MI had characters we’ve grown to care about, and a natural escalation, this starts off with a potential world-ending virus, where could the pairing go next? Another virus? Aliens? Let’s not give the producers ideas.
There are things holding this back from me calling it a ‘good film’. The dialogue sometimes borders on the embarrassing (‘I’m what you might call an ice-cold can of whoop-ass’ no, you’re an ice-cold can of cringe, Dwayne) and the characters are, as previously stated, non-existent.
But there are times when the film is a lot of fun, its visit to Samoa later in the film is the peak, and is the closest Hobbs comes to being likeable is when he’s surrounded by his Samoan family, this is where Dwayne Johnson is interesting, his Samoan heritage is well-known but barely touched by his films, and using the Samoa-set scenes here and Moana, that’s a great shame.
As much as I’m not a huge fan of this series, I did have more fun with it than perhaps I was expecting, and there’s more than enough to keep your interest, even if the film does run a tad long, it feels like it doesn’t full capitalise on its good ideas, but when it’s on form it’s a barrel of fun. Very dumb fun, but fun nonetheless.