I’ve never really been into the Fast and Furious series. I’ve seen bits of most of the films, but the only one I’ve seen all the way through is Furious 6, but I wasn’t a fan of it and I’ve not seen any other films in the series since. Despite that, I was interested in seeing Hobbs and Shaw. The trailers made it look like a good bit of fun and, even if I don’t like the films (e.g. Deadpool 2), you do get some entertaining action in a film from David Leitch. However, on a whole, I found this to be a pretty boring film, despite some decent action and a charismatic cast.
The film focuses on the characters of Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw who are forced to work together after Shaw’s sister Hattie, an MI6 agent, is accused of killing her team when she was actually framed by Brixton, an operative with terrorist organisation Etreon who are after a supervirus, codenamed Snowflake, which Hattie injected herself with to stop Brixton getting it. It’s up to Hobbs and Shaw to help Hattie extract the virus before it kills her and gets released whilst also stopping it from getting in the hands of Brixton. Now there are themes in the film about evolution via machinery and survival of the fittest, but those elements aren’t what make the film. What the film is mainly going for is fun action and good interplay between the characters. For me though, I found a lot of the humour in the film to be lacking. There are some decent jokes, but a lot of the jokes feel pretty lazy. The big issue I had with the film though is the pacing. The film is way too long and the action scenes are so badly paced that I was thoroughly bored watching the film. It also doesn’t help matters that the film does play itself fairly seriously, not having the tongue in cheek sensibility implied by the marketing, which I feel harms the tone of the film. I didn’t find myself engaged with the characters as well and there is the argument to be made that you need to have seen the other Fast and Furious films to understand the characters, but the film is paced for people who haven’t seen those films, offering introductions to both characters, with these introductions being, in my opinion, the best part of the film. The fact that I couldn’t engage with the characters even after how fun their introductions were shows to me how the film doesn’t work, it not helping that the character development for Hobbs and Shaw is the laziest and most telegraphed character development I’ve seen.
The performances though, whilst charismatic, aren’t really able to overcome the issues with the script. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as Hobbs and Shaw aren’t really playing characters, they’re playing the images that we’ve come to expect of them. They play the parts well and the two have good chemistry with each other, helping to sell the buddy cop side of the film where the script lets them down. Vanessa Kirby as Hattie Shaw, between this and Mission: Impossible – Fallout, is continuing to show herself as a strong action lead and, whilst I do not in any way buy that she is a similar age to Jason Statham, she has good chemistry with him and also with Johnson, although what the script calls for in their relationship doesn’t match their performances. Idris Elba as Brixton is a good bit of fun, he’s clearly relishing playing a baddie and is having fun, but, again, the script for him is very cliched and he’s not able to make it work. There’s decent work from Cliff Curtis and Eddie Marsan and the film is stolen by Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren every time they’re on screen, although I found Kevin Hart’s character to be incredibly annoying and Eiza Gonzalez was completely wasted, her part seemingly only in here to set up an appearance in a future Fast and Furious film.
The technical side of the film I found to be a mixed bag. The action scenes are well shot and choreographed, but they go on way too long and there wasn’t really any tension in them for me, especially due to the clauses Johnson and Statham have that prevent either of them to have their characters be hurt in an action scene. Also, whilst it’s more of an issue with the marketing, the action scenes didn’t really have a wow factor for me since I’ve seen most of them in the marketing. The most interesting parts of the action come in the third act with scenes in Samoa, making good use of traditional Samoan weaponry, with it also being great for a big budget film to give attention to Samoan culture and language, even if it is fairly restrained. The editing meanwhile I found to harm the flow of the action scenes, detracting from how well they were shot, and adding to the issue of poor pacing I had with the film.
Overall, there is the germ of a good, fun action film in here, but the film takes itself too seriously to be any real fun and whilst the cast are fun, the script doesn’t give them anything to do and, ultimately, I found myself bored watching the film. I wanted to have more fun than I did, but I just found myself waiting for the end and was not excited or engaged at any point in the film.
My Rating: 2/5