Review By: Hawk Ripjaw (Three Beers) –
.Gifs, Capslock, & Miscellaneous Flair Provided By: Felix Felicis
You know what I love about Hobbs & Shaw and the Fast & Furious franchise as a whole from Fast Five onward? It’s that the franchise, and writer Chris Morgan, knows exactly what these movies are.
Hobbs & Shaw is absolutely fucking ludicrous as an action movie. There is a pervading sense of “why the fuck not” to every element of its plot and action. Remember back in the day, when the franchise was just Point Break with cars and they stole DVD players and drank Coronas?
WELL NOW A FUCKING CYBORG WANTS TO UNLEASH A VIRAL PLAGUE UPON THE EARTH THAT WILL LIQUEFY THE INSIDES OF ANYONE HE DEEMS WEAK AND GIVE WAY TO A RACE OF SIMILARLY ADVANCED SUPERSTARS AND I’M NOT MAD AT THAT ACTUALLY THAT WOULD BE FUCKEN IDEAL. FUCK YO DVD PLAYERS, TOO, WHILE WE’RE AT IT.
Not that it all went from zero to a billion in a matter of seconds. Ever since the franchises’ rebirth with Fast Five (and its absolutely glorious climax where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker – Cthulhu rest his soul – towed a giant vault through Rio de Janeiro behind two Dodge Chargers) subsequent sequels have been all about ramping up the absurdity in each movie, and, in the years since, we’ve been blessed with such spectacular nonsense including, but not limited to: a nearly-30-mile-long airport runway, Vin Diesel literally curb-stomping an entire parking garage onto Jason Statham after a sword fight carried out using obscenely huge wrenches, Dwayne Johnson flexing out of a hard cast because DADDY HAS TO GO TO WORK, Kurt Russell facing off against a fleet of self-driving murder cars *cough* real-life Teslas are coming for us all *cough*, Dwayne Johnson shot-putting a torpedo using nothing but his bare hands + super-charged charisma, and Dwayne Johnson three-peating this intro by killing a drone using an ambulance then ripping out (and commandeering) its gigantic gun for *absolutely* plausible reasons.
This turbo-charged franchise is clearly the result of swan-diving into an Olympic-sized pool of cocaine like Scrooge McDuck diving into a swimming pool of his own hoarded gold (with the added bonus of being equally as credible) after slamming back an entire case of Mountain Dew LIVE WIRE and… It. Is. AMAZING.
Hobbs & Shaw opens on Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) stealing a deadly virus called “Snowflake,” which is said to liquefy the insides of those infected (but only if the host is “woke” and there’s a confirmed avocado toast sighting somewhere nearby).
Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) shows up – why isn’t there a global bureau for naming children, no WONDER we have so many supervillans popping up (considering some of the names getting slapped on today’s babies) – and Hattie asks “Who are you?”
Aiming to keep things simple, Brixton replies with “bad guy” before killing the shit out of Hattie’s team before they could even ‘gram their art house avocado toast arrangements. Rude.
Brixton not only *verbally* brands himself as the bad guy, but, for extra dimensionality, he also *does* bad guy things (including but not limited to): laughing maniacally at questionably appropriate times and menacing his captives with a flamethrower (it’s never a bad idea to diversify your skill set when resume-building).
And in what is, arguably, my favorite moment of 2019 so far, Brixton is informed that he will NOT be receiving a participation trophy for his master plan involving the widespread dissemination of an apocalyptic plague (give it a few years, Brixton, I hear measles are making a pretty big comeback – work smarter not harder).
Buuuuut it does lead to this deadpan line of dialogue so insane it basks in its own brilliance:
The sound you’re hearing right now is the pocket of silence that comes in the moment after a crystalline burst of clarity makes its way through your entire body and soul.
Anyway, Hattie immediately realizes the profound implications that could result from the misuse of this virus and takes matters *SVU ‘doink doink’* into her own hands, selflessly infecting herself with the squishy-insides virus by slamming her hand onto the injection needles and taking one for the team.
So now She-Shaw has a civilization-ending virus coursing through her veins and only seventy-two hours before it’s no longer dormant. IT’S TIME TO SWIPE LEFT ON THE APOCALYPSE BEFORE THAT ‘SNOWFLAKE’ VIRUS SWIPES RIGHT ON WIPING OUT HUMANITY, GIRL, BECAUSE GARFIELD WAS BANG ON ABOUT MONDAYS (AND VIRULENT BIO-WEAPONS), THEY’RE JUST THE *WORST*.
Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw being the only two (active/still in play within the Furious-verse) law enforcement-ish agents on the roster makes for a fairly clean rationale behind this offshoot from original/canon Fast films.
It also conveniently offers camouflage for the, reportedly, real-life beef between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson being behind the real reason why those two action-industry titans likely won’t be clashing (on screen at least) anytime soon. Hobbs & Shaw are here, without peer, and ready to track down the antidote to one severe bummer of a booster shot.
For films as unabashedly, unreservedly low-brow (in the *best* way) as these, the Fast flicks are (generally, and to their credit) made with a fairly consistent – and impressive – eye toward genuine craftsmanship and style. Hobbs & Shaw continues that legacy by raising the bar even higher with a stellar first act setup sequence featuring a split-screen view as we tail Hobbs and Shaw through parallel morning routines (wake up, roll out of bed, take a quick call, kick some ass – you know, the usual). It’s this level of detail, commitment to quality film-making, and intentional aesthetic that makes it clear the Fast franchise is still trying to outdo itself with each subsequent installment/spin-off instead of resting on those fucken laurels some franchises are more than happy to pass out blackout drunk on *cough* ANY TRANSFORMERS FILM POST 2009 *cough*.
The action scenes are in a league of their own as Hobbs & Shaw executes remarkably clean (and frequently aerodynamically improbable) stunts peppered with bombastic flair, much like the first person who thought “lemme just throw some hot dog chunks in this chili and see what happens…” YOU JUST INVENTED HOT DOGS AND BEANS, SON, AND YOU ARE A NATIONAL TREASURE. Science fact.
Please add Brixton and his revolving door of ever-more-impossible high-speed shenanigans to the list of reasons why Hobbs & Shaw ascends from generic, over-the-counter action movie to Class-I Schedule Dopeness. You get into a fistfight on a moving flatbed truck in the middle of an exploding nuclear facility and we’ll talk.
Until then, if you come into this franchise spin-off expecting plausible events, do not pass go, do not collect $200; go directly to kale (you don’t even DESERVE avocados anymore).
Public Service Announcement: in a world besieged by films designed to drain your last box-office dollar, Hobbs & Shaw is *actually* an experience worth your Dolby ducats (Atmos or any other enhanced audio options available during theater run). Please see the moment where Hobbs headbutts Brixton in slow motion (the sound is just *chefs kiss* perfection) for further reference.
True to form, your Fast faves are back in black (it’s slimming) and ready to rock: a dash of mortal peril + some good, old-fashioned, dead-before-you-remember-their-names bad-guy-stunt-heavy-shenanigans (shaken not stirred to provide a bouquet of bonding experiences our one-time frenemies can share) to bring together one cranky man with another equally cranky – though considerably more jacked – man together in the bonds of bro-trimony. By the time those credits roll Hobbs and Shaw are referring to one another (non-ironically) as “brother”. NO, I’M NOT CRYING YOU’RE CRYING I HAVE ALLERGIES OKAY.
There are a couple of times that Hobbs & Shaw stretches believably beyond what even I, human dumpster fire to the stars and Gerard Butler movie lover, can allow. No, I’m not talking about Hobbs basically surviving a free-fall from a skyscraper, or trying to sell the fact that a super-virus engineered to wipe out humanity like a crowd-sourced ‘wave’ at Superbowl halftime can be sucked out of someone’s bloodstream like so many microscopic barrels pinging around, demonic Ms-Pac-Man-style.
Hell, I’d even buy Idris Elba as a reborn (possibly) immortal cyborg, because – let’s face it – Idris Elba might just be playing himself here.
Buuuuut the Fast franchise/verse still has a long way to go in terms of how it treats women, that’s for damn sure.
Additionally, the family angle which anchors our shared Fast universe (and all other orbiting gas giants) is not quite as rock-solid as it is in the main franchise. The camaraderie between any dealer’s choice character pairing here in Hobbs & Shaw is almost always tinged by some sort of (genuine) antagonism. The house you *used* to live in was bound together with love and an ice bucket full of Coronas.
This (admittedly entertaining) crab shack of a spinoff is built on rickety stilts of biting, weirdly mean-spirited bickering that seems almost impossible to overcome in the run-time given. Not to mention that the opposing dynamic between Hobbs and Shaw also impedes their Boss Level team-up to defeat Black Superman. Oh they get there in the end, but it’s a real slog through the dick-sand.
The Fast franchise most definitely doesn’t have its own Kevin Feige, who has carefully guided a multitude of characters and plot lines to a definitive conclusion that satisfactorily resolves about a billion character arcs.
Chris Morgan’s stance on world-building basically boils down to “Anything’s cool as long as we stay on the right side of the audience.” And, honestly, that’s just fine.
Ostensibly, Hobbs & Shaw is removed from the core Fast franchise narrative and the events here really shouldn’t affect those of the main franchise. Howeeever, at one point Shaw says “I’ve done things I regret.” Which, according to Morgan, is a reference to Shaw killing Han. That means that this movie sort of is in the Fast universe, and thus – direct – canon.
With fans clamoring for #JusticeForHan, Shaw’s character being angled for some sort of redemption, and Hobbs & Shaw featuring a reborn cyborg, there’s only ONE logical fran-verse conclusion in regards to Han. In the final Fast film (which *will* be titled Fast 10: Your Seatbelts or so help me, Cthulhu), Chris Morgan is gonna Winter Soldier dat ass and bring an amnesiac Han back to life as a super-soldier…
It will take Dom, a new warp-drive-driven angle, and the gang cryogenically woken to battle alien miners before they reach New Earth to remind Han of the importance of friends, family, and asking before you hug someone’s face. And then everyone has a Corona.
And the new movie will (probably) *still* forget that Shaw hasn’t officially owned up to his actions or apologized or even sent Han’s next of kin a tasteful Applebees gift card for their trouble.
But cars and stunts and FAMILY, everybody.
Hobbs & Shaw is an imaginative new chapter in a thrilling (and absolutely satisfying) series spinoff, and manages to hit most of the right notes on its way in to qualify as a legit Odd Couple comedy (while also peppering in layers of classic screwball). It’s the sort of film you can put on right before diving into a swimming pool filled with popcorn (logistical nightmare on that one aside). Hobbs & Shaw marks a new milestone in the Fast franchise-verse, and it’s a rocket ship ride worth taking.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) Drinking Game
Time to “rev up” that liver!
Do a Shot: every time someone says “family.”
Take a Drink: for every instance of slow motion.
Take a Drink: whenever Hobbs & Shaw start taking verbal potshots at each other.
Do a Shot: for every new vehicle one of the main characters commandeers.
Chug Your Beer: WHEN THEY DO THE THING WITH THE NITROUS!!!