April 22, 2022

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Fast and Furious’ Hobbs and Shaw Review: It’s All Hops and Show

Hobbs and Shaw

The Fast and Furious mega-franchise has moved from action films to films in the cusp of actions and science fiction. For its spin-off and team-up movie “Hobbs and Shaw”, it is science fiction and the fantasy laced with action. I can imagine how the story was made – the guys at Universal Pictures asked the director David Leitch, do you know what makes the Fast and Furious franchise tick? And he says say no more and went to work. And since he had to work outside the central characters, having in their stead three super names in the game, Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs, Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw and Idris Elba as the villain Brixton, he put them in a fast boat and they sailed him through the two hours that was the film in the wave of rage, clashes, crashes, and the ridiculous.

Hobbs and Shaw: The Plot (?)

If you haven’t seen the movie before, don’t look away because there is no plot so there are zero risks of a spoiler. The plot is the first thing Leitch threw under the bus to make his movie. So there is a human who have been pumped with machines and viruses and who has so much physical power that bullets can’t kill him, who has so much cognitive powers that he can analyze your pulse rate, attack probability, force, velocity and all just in a split second before he fights you, and who has so much political power that he can frame anyone with the snap of his hands and have the whole media in the UK spinning the falsehood he wrote for them. So Hobbs and Shaw come to London to stop him and save the world from destruction.

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See Paige Turco

There was no iota of fear in me that the world would be destroyed. Years of inhaling Jack Bauer’s “24” into my system has taught me that the world can never be destroyed and that the bad guys would be gotten. But with 24, they did destroy a tiny portion of the world. You see a nuke going off in California, Air Force One getting shot down, presidents getting killed and when the bad boys are gotten (and sometimes they escape), the good guys pay huge prices for this, the loss of a limp, the loss of a family member, the loss of career, and the killing off of a beloved member of the main cast.

While watching the film, there was no time I feared that any portion of the world would be destroyed or that any of the main characters would lose anything other than some bruise to the face or arm. Even when Hobbs and Shaw where in chains and surrounded by hundreds of armed terrorists in the headquarters of Eteon, the weapons, and biotech terrorist group, I didn’t break a single sweat of trepidation.  The film didn’t demonstrate this fear, thereby making what should be a looming fear in a-ticking-bomb fashion look like a rumor of danger wrapped in science and technology.

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In the end, the threat to the world was eliminated and feuding siblings become buddies again and granddaughters meet grand mums and the world lived happily hereafter. So sweet.

Credit where credit is due

David Leitch is a top director who has not yet made a bad movie. From “Atomic Blonde” to “Deadpool 2” and his uncredited directing of “John Wick”, he excelled as a screen brawler, weapon clashes and action moviemaker who doesn’t hesitate to push the button (some even call him the best action director today but I wouldn’t be led by this superlative noose as his body of work is small). And since the show has no plot, the only way the show could work is if the viewer doesn’t notice the plotlessness. So Leitch starts the show with the fight between the bad guy Brixton and the MI6 group in which Hattie Shaw (Deckard Shaw’s sister played by Vanessa Kirby) survives and shoots the virus into her system. From then on, it was fight, race, fight, race, crashes, fight, and race. More fights, more races.

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When there isn’t fighting, the Rock and Statham were engaged in heated conversations and swap insults. The scene where they told each other what they hate about each other stands out, up there with the most physically thrilling scenes of the film. It is a great performance, keeping a show running on sweat, toil, and technology. With the dialogues serving as the cherry on the cake.

And the marvels of technology and AI is one of the strengths of the show. Riderless bikes, rope-on-the-wall elevators, super vehicles run by supercomputers, super tracking systems, gun-disarming on-the-clock systems, all. We have seen variants of these before, but “Hobbs and Shaw” put life into them, put them in a cabin of ferries wheel and gave us all a ride.

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Hobbs and Shaw: What else?

There was a small romantic tension between Hattie and Hobbs which infuriates Shaw. It keeps rising until Hattie and Shaw kisses for two short seconds. And that was it for the whole movie – two seconds of kissing. Maybe the filmmakers wanted to keep the film on its PG13 pedal but they ended up sapping the show of its most promising attempt at the emotional. The writers and director have blood in their hands.

If not romantic, where else can we find emotions in the movies? Not even the reunion between Luke and his mother in Samoa, not even the reunion during the credits between jailed mother and her two kids Shaw and Hattie, not even Hobbs’ daughter meeting her grandma. Not the death of the scientist. And there is no mincing of words about it, the show is a symbol of modern-day artificiality on the screen. Cold, efficient, and emotionless.

Here are all about the Rich

Most of the antics and stunts in the movie are entertaining while some reek false and have me scratching my head. Like that time, Hobbs held a plane in mid-flight from flying by holding to the chain on the plane’s side.  Like how cars blow up and the people inside survive it. Like how Brixton and his co-terrorists who are supposed to be master marksmen will shoot a couple of bullets at the titular duo a few feet away and not hit them. And so many others depending on your level of the suspense of disbelief.

The brilliant reviewer of this movie on Roger Ebert concludes by affirming the claim that Hollywood now makes products and not movies and declares “Hobbs and Shaw” as “one of the most fun shiny new products of the season”. I will add that this product achieves its goal by asking the viewer at short intervals, “Are you not entertained?”

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There are very few instances where the viewer would say no.

Tweets to @Oke4chukwu

Image sources: Times of India


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