The ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise is one of those Hollywood fairytales they tell little studio execs to help them drift off to sleep when they’re worried about the changing nature of the global box office.
A series which started mid-budget, got played out and then in the fifth film radically changed course and became something else. With this spin-off we’re now at nine films and the cash registers are set to go 'kaching'.
This new film opens up with a helicopter landing near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and special forces finding themselves in a fight with a super-human being who throws stuntmen around like they were on wires.
We could go into plotting more but it doesn’t really matter. Words get thrown around like spies, a deadly virus, agencies, special forces, ass-whooping.
The point is, two cool dudes Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) don’t like each other but are forced to team up and save the world. They do this while bickering non-stop with the kind of sexual tension you could cut with a knife.
They need to find and work with Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) from MI6 and deal with the before mentioned super soldier played by Idris Elba as Brixton.
Idris is once again wasted in a big Hollywood production as a villain continuously undermined by the script, the guy never gets to win so how the hell can he be threatening? Vanessa on the other hand shines and balances out the energy of the two macho men comically posturing. There are also two awesome cameos which won’t be spoiled here.
Jason seems to have been shunted to second fiddle but doesn’t mind, he remains cool.
Dwayne has been a leading man in several films and given some good performances over the years but here scenes involving emotions seem to stretch his capabilities. A failure that might reflect more on director David Leitch than the star.
Speaking of, the action remains pretty cool. David, who co-directed the original ‘John Wick’, features some neat fight choreography. There are the requisite sweeping vista shots over spectacular locations and an army of stunt crews on hand but the balance between practical and CGI has shifted. The wow-factor of set pieces that must have cost a fortune is diminished by not appearing real even if for the most part they are.
The film has energy to burn and is rip-roaring fun but as we near the third act the film does start to lose steam.
Thankfully Dwayne referencing his Samoan heritage is nice to see even if tied up in generic back stories.
You miss the larger ensemble of characters from the main films and a trim in the editing would not be unwelcome but ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ delivers the goods. Witty banter, fast action and three leads who lift and carry the whole film on their own, there is more than enough to build upon here with further spin-offs.
‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ is in cinemas now.