I might as well lay my cards on the table early with this review and come right out and state that Hobbs & Shaw is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema since the first Guardians of the Galaxy!
Oh, don’t misunderstand me – I’ve seen several tens of dozens of films I’ve loved, gasped at, been amazed by, some have made me think, I’ve laughed, I’ve been saddened, I’ve been thrilled, I’ve been anticipating, I’ve been shocked, surprised and swept up out of my seat each and every time, away from the mundane to somewhere fresh and exciting. So, the trip to the cinema (and there are a lot of them) is almost always going to be a success. Yes, there are exceptions – Pokémon and Conjuring spinoffs loom large on this year’s failures, but on the whole, it’s been a great blockbuster season this year so far.
I expected that I’d enjoy Hobbs and Shaw, being a fan of the Fast & Furious series which have definitely and noticeably taken a sharper turn to the far fetched since the introduction of ex-wrestler Dwayne Johnson as federal agent Luke Hobbs to the franchise back in Fast Five (2011) and the surprising debut of Jason Statham as outcast mercenary Deckard Shaw in a sting at the end of the sixth film in 2013. That whole series has come a long way from being about a gang of racing adrenaline junkies who commit heists on the streets of L.A. (which lifted its plot directly from Point Break) to being practically a Mission: Impossible series with the gang working covertly for a mysterious government department and in the last film, outrunning a Russian nuclear sub in the Arctic wastes. A long way from racing for pink slips.
Given that both Johnson and Statham brought an insane amount of charisma to the series, especially in their shared scenes where they try to out-talk and out-insult each other, it was inevitable that the pair be matched up in a spinoff that brings the two unlikely partners back on another mission to save the world. Personally, I was sold on the idea the very second I heard it, and the trailer, which seems to have been playing in front of just about every other film released since the spring just sealed the deal.
The beauty of this film is that you don’t need to have seen any of the fast and Furious films to enjoy this – they’re not referenced. This is all new. It’s obvious that Hobbs and Shaw know each other and share a mutual contempt and dislike for each other, but the reason why doesn’t matter – we’re straight into the action here with Idris Elba as Brixton, a black leather and Kevlar clad bad guy with cybernetic implants that allow him to accomplish superhuman feats and practically make him invulnerable. Brixton’s team are out to steal the snowflake virus, a man-made plague with liquifies its target from inside and is an airborne virus which will quickly contaminate the whole world.
So, from the get-go, it’s obvious we’re not watching a serious drama or an Oscar winning consciousness raising documentary here. The MI6 team assigned to protect the virus in its lab fail, with only one agent, Hattie Shaw (yes, the last name is kind of a giveaway) surviving. Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) injects the virus capsules into herself, knowing she has three days before the capsules release the virus and make her not only a) dead but also b) a highly contagious death sentence for the human race.
The U.K. and U.S. governments have to send the best men they can think of to locate Hattie, who is now on the run, having been framed for turning on her own team, and they need to neutralise Brixton and retrieve the virus. All in a day’s work for our reluctant heroes.
Make no mistake, this film is pure escapist entertainment. Unlikely plots, impossible stunts comprising vehicles defying gravity and physics, outrageous feats of superhuman strength by Dwayne Johnson, some of the best quips, insults and cracking dialogue between the stars that I’ve heard since The Expendables and a great time to be had. And that’s what these two are – a two-man Expendables team. Johnson has definitely grown into this generation’s Schwarzenegger. An engaging, always likeable, charismatic superstar. You can drop him into a film and like other superstars before him, Schwarzenegger and John Wayne for example – Dwayne will always be Dwayne. He’s not an actor per se, he’s a superstar and you know exactly what you’re going to get when you go and see one of his films – the same goes for Statham.
Enjoy the film, and enjoy the supporting cast, which include Helen Mirren, Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds. (For his role in Hobbs & Shaw, Reynolds has earned forgiveness for Detective Pikachu as long as I never have to watch it again).
So, go. Have some fun, and I hope you laugh as long and hard as I did. Forget that the world’s fast turning to crap, just sit back and escape – that’s what this film offers.
Copyright © 2010 - 2019 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.