Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

This will probably cost me some votes for Prom Queen, but I’ll just come out and say it:  There came a point when these Fast and Furious movies stopped doing a damn thing for me, and I can tell you exactly when it happened.  A few films back, Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto flips his car down the side of a mountain, a la Toonces the Driving Cat.  If you combined the accident that maimed Ricky Bobby with Skylab crashing to Earth, you still wouldn’t have as much twisted metal as this particular wreckage.  Still, Toretto crawls out like a pristine Mr. Clean, with nary a scatch on him.

It was here that I realized I was watching the Ed Hardy equivalent of Looney Toons.  Physics don’t matter.  Logic doesn’t matter.  There are no stakes to anything, because no matter what, characters will just dust themselves off, pose triumphantly, and fire off douchey one-liners.  And make no mistake, I ain’t no art house movie snob.  I can suspend disbelief through a thousand-million Bournes, Bonds, and Batmans.  But when dudes start driving cars from one skyscraper to the next, that suspension snaps and I’m left feeling like this is all just the live-action version of Grand Theft Auto.

It seems this franchise has now reached the point where it can spin-off tangents, kinda like Happy Days.  For this particular cinematic hayride, our Joanie and Chachi take the form of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), two peripheral attachments to the main Furious gang.  Hobbs is a burly tracker who excels at finding bad guys who don’t wanna be found.  Shaw is a disgraced MI-6 agent with a major chip on his shoulder.  It seems that Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an elite agent herself, has been exposed to a lethal super-virus, and has to find a way to both neutralize it and prevent some real nasty villains from unleashing on the general population.  This forces our reluctant heroes to team up and bring her to safety.

This plan gets complicated when Brixton (Idris Elba) inserts himself into the situation.  Brixton is a turncoat agent who has been enhanced with cybernetics to superhuman levels of strength and endurance.  Just how goofy have these movies become?  Cyborgs.  That’s how goofy.

And you can’t fault Johnson or Statham.  They have an easy chemistry with each other, even when the script feeds them the usual diet of cheap one-liners.  (Hobbs:  “I’m just a cold can of ass-whuppin’.”)  Kirby clearly has a lot of fun as the face-stomping sister, so maybe we could spin her off as well?  (Fast and Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw Presenting:  Shaw’s Little Sister)  But a lot of the things that bugged me about the recent Furious movies get baked into this one, as well.  Characters fall out of buildings, crash in helicopters, get blown up by missiles, only to come out of it looking like they cut themselves shaving.  It takes away any reason I have to root for any of these people, any more than I do for Tom or Jerry, because I know everything will be just fine in time for the next cartoon.

 

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Author: Todd Wofford

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