More noise than signal

Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

It is traditional for us, in these reviews, to express our bafflement that Fast and Furious became A Thing in the first place, and also that it continued to be A Thing, indeed A Thing so successful there is now a Spin Off Thing. So let’s not retread that and instead get straight into this not-Diesel fuelled outing.

Hobbs and Shaw sees, as you might expect, the mismatched odd couple of The Rock’s one of them and Jason Statham’s other of them team up, despite their continuing distaste for each other, to take on a bit of business at the behest of the C.I.A. It seems an MI6 operative sent to retrieve a exceptionally deadly weaponised virus has gone rogue, killing her team and vanishing. The sting in the tail here is the operative is Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie Shaw – Deckard’s sister.

However, we, and before very long our other protagonists, know that she’s been set up by the shadowy, mysterious Eteon Corporation, creators of the virus, who want it back to complete their flat out Bond villain Moonraker / The Spy Who Loved Me-esque scheme of killing the weak and repopulating the Earth with their superpowered human/machine hybrids, or hyborgs as I believe is the term. Chiefly these hyborgs are represented by Idris Elba’s Blokey Bloke Brixton, whose history with Shaw completes the retcon of Statham’s face turn in so far as anyone could laughingly apply continuity to this franchise.

This is my absolute least favourite type of film to talk about – something I watched and enjoyed well enough in the cinema, for what it was and intended to be, and in the normal course of things I could go about the rest of my life and never think about it again apart from perhaps the odd fond memory of the dafter sections. But no, I had to go and do a podcast, which means remembering the just plain bad bits, and giving the structure the very slightest of taps and watching it fall apart like the Bluesmobile at the end of The Blues Brothers. Talking about this film requires thinking about it, and if ever there was a film designed not to be thought about, it’s Hobbs and Shaw.

In common with 90% (at least) of the films we talk about it’s at least half an hour too long. It comes to a logical end point after destroying Eteon’s Eastern European Facility O’Evil, including a flamethrower wielding Eddie Marsan which is a high water mark that the series is never going to reach again. But, it stumbles onwards to a final showdown in Samoa, which has Vin Diesel’s fingerprints all over it.

I imagine earlier drafts ended before this, but on submission for approval he was all, “There’s not enough talk about family in here. Go away and add in a bunch of stuff about family. Just slap it in anywhere. Fankoo”. It’s not that these sequences are significantly worse or better than the other stretches of the film, it’s just too much. Which happens a lot. The first few times The Rock and Statham settle in for an insult session, it’s funny enough, the last time seems forced. The initial Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool as a CIA agent schtick is funny enough, the second and third times are forced. Ditto Kevin Hart’s turn, ditto, well, pretty much every element of the film, really.

We could talk about the plot, I suppose, but I’m not going to. Look, it’s very, very silly, but in common with the rest of the series it’s not occurring here on Earth Prime, but some alternate version where cars, and bikes, and technology, and reality, do not follow the same rules. So I could tell you how dumb the handling of the virus is, or how even fancy advanced bikes should obey the laws of physics, or several dozen other things that you could call a plot hole, but, well, as they’re fairly transparently handwaves to get to the next action sequence I’m not going to bother. It’s the same schtick as the rest of the series really, just much more blatant, and if you’ve got to this point making your peace with the mainline F&F series then I can’t see this annoying you more than they did.

Hobs and Shaw is, objectively, a bad film, for the reasons stated above. As an explosion and fight scene delivery vector, I think there’s a bit more of a defence – I enjoyed those sections, and of course The Rock and Jason Statham are more likable than the mainline cast.

I’m not going to defend this opinion with facts, but despite this being awful, I liked it. It’s perhaps not the Biggest Big Dumb action film of the year, but it’s certainly the Dumbest. So if you want a big dumb action film, then this delivers, if you want anything more from it than that, continue your search.