The Fast and Furious franchise was never one that particularly piqued my interest. Out of the seventy-leven installments, I’ve seen about three total. Cars just never did it for me like they do for others, so I just went about my business as the franchise carried on. And then I saw the preview for Hobbs and Shaw. Seeing Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson and Idris Elba face off was everything I could have wanted from an action film and so I decided to give Hobbs and Shaw a chance.
I actually enjoyed this film so much more than I was expecting. It is the epitome of a buddy cop film – along the lines of Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys or, more closely, The Other Guys…..except with a ton of massive explosions. The banter between the Rock and Jason Statham kept me laughing throughout the film. Most of the jabs were juvenile at best, essentially boiling down to a ‘mine is bigger than yours’ sentiment, but I don’t think one enters a Fast and Furious film for witty humor. Despite their characters being at odds, these two have such an obvious chemistry on camera and it really worked. Now if that chemistry was meant to be platonic or not is a question we can argue about another day.
The absurdity of some of the action sequences actually added to the humor for me. There was a moment in the third act where the Rock is actually wrangling a helicopter with his bare hands. In a film where the bad guy is ACTUALLY genetically enhanced, you would think the writers would keep in mind the limits of those that don’t have powers. However, to be fair, if someone said the Rock was a superhero I might be inclined to believe them (I mean he did say it best on the plane – he is a big brown mountain of a man).
The plot could definitely be labeled as absurd as well. An MI6 agent, Hattie Shaw – sister to lead Deckerd Shaw (Jason Statham) – is forced to inject herself with some vaguely explained apocalypse starting virus to prevent superhuman bad guy Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) from getting his hands on it. The whole world then turns against her and her only hope is for Hobbs and Shaw to help her to extract the virus from her blood before it either dissolves and becomes airborne or Brixton releases it to start the end of the world. Once the virus was brought up, I couldn’t help but hear John Hanna’s voice from The Mummy Returns – “Ahhh the old wipe out the world ploy”. It always just seems a convenient, and rarely well executed, plot device.
The final battle was beautifully set, on the island of Samoa where the motif of family that has vaguely carried through the entire Fast and Furious franchise was thrown in at the last moment. Hobbs manages to reconcile with his estranged family in moments and then convinces them to go into war with him against Brixton and his army of goons. The saving grace of this film was definitely the action sequences, especially throughout this final battle.
The humor, surprise cameos and action sequences all combine to make this a fun summer blockbuster.