Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Critic's Rating: 3/5
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza González, Eddie Marsan, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, Rob Delaney, Eliana Sua
Director: David Leitch
Duration: 2 hours, 16 minutes
Language: English (A)
While the previous feature-length movie in the Fast & Furious franchise went fourth gear on emotion with a protracted finale, it was the closing of a chapter, in memory of Paul Walker. Here, David Leitch puts the pedal to the metal to deliver some high-octane fare, ensuring this spinoff of the successful series gets a new lease of life.
Deep within the recesses of a maximum-security laboratory, a virus is synthesised by a shadowy terrorist collective known as Eteon. Eteon is bent on creating a new world order with the help of this virus, codenamed 'Snowflake'. If the latter is unleashed on the unsuspecting public after landing in the wrong hands, it can decimate the human race as we know it, making contagions like the bubonic plague and Spanish influenza look like country bumpkins.
British MI6 agents led by Hattie (Kirby) try to steal the virus containers but are thwarted by Eteon's armed operatives led by Brixton (Elba). Shaw ingeniously injects herself with the virus as a living carrier, so that the mission is not lost, and escapes. This is spun around to the media to make it seem that it is Hattie who is the biological terrorist. The CIA then steps in, with agents Locke (Reynolds) and Loeb (Delaney) charging Hobbs (Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Statham) with the task of tracking down Hattie, who is at large and also wanted by Eteon.
As the action moves from London to Moscow and elsewhere, the good guys find themselves framed but prove their good intentions with good deeds while fighting the good fight. Mending family ties - as Shaw and Hobbs do so in the film - is also underlined.
The friendship between Hobbs and Shaw will remind you of the buddy cop films of yore like Tango & Cash, 2 Guns, Turner and Hooch and The Nice Guys to name a few. Yes, the plot is gossamer-thin but then again this is not a movie for deep dialogues. However, screenwriters Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce build on Johnson's real-life inspiring image by giving him some inspirational lines. Hobbs shares simple truisms with his daughter: "In life, things happen. You may not want them to but they do. You just gotta (sic) move on." He also quotes Nietzsche ("There’s more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.") and Bruce Lee ("The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.") and his own ("We’ll see tomorrow’s sunset and begin to fix the mistakes we’ve made.") for good measure. It’s motivational without being cheesy.
Plot simplicity aside, the action choreography is not John Wick 3 level but the colour palette suits the feel of the film, and it is snappily edited. Albeit sometimes with too many quick camera angle edits during action sequences.
Some of the action dialogues will remind you of the voiceover in a sophisticated video game such as in Grand Theft Auto. Brixton's justification to unleash the virus on humanity is one that's oft-used by screen villains, But otherwise, the banter between the title characters, when taking jibes at each other, is hilarious. Also, Reynolds' straight-faced, rib-tickling humour schtick is Deadpool-ish.
Overall, you’re served up some good action with good humour as well.
- Reagan Gavin Rasquinha (for The Examiner)