This Just In: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wants you to kick your leg up, laugh out loud, and go “wow” during his movies. He wants you to do this all at once, for about two hours. Case in Point: Johnson’s new film, Fast & Furious: Hobbs and Shaw.
Together with director David Leitch (Deadpool, John Wick) and co-star, Jason Statham, Johnson has succeeded in creating a riotous summer party at the movies with this flick. Consider this a juicy cheeseburger hot off the grill. I’m talking about a 135 minute action-adventure blast of entertainment that is exhausting, hilarious, over-the-top, and full of surprises.
Let’s just say a few cast members, ones you haven’t heard or seen yet, are making their franchise debut here, and I’ll warn you right now: the drink you’ll buy will end up on the person sitting in front of you … twice! But let’s get to the plot, which isn’t bulky like its stars, but still packs plenty of pop and heart for the film fan.
Reluctantly paired in The Fate of the Furious, Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Statham) must join forces once again to take down the maniacal Brixton (Idris Elba, chewing scenery and loving every second), a cyber-enhanced “Black Superman” hellbent on rewiring the human species. First, he needs to take out the population and in order to do that, needs more of the special serum that makes him super-powered. When Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby, Mission: Impossible-Fallout), steals the special sauce, the chase commences.
What follows are a series of intoxicating and jacked action sequences stuffed with Johnson and Statham trading one liners like stiff jabs in a ring. This is the good stuff, ladies and gentlemen. For every couple punches they throw at the bad guys, a few others are tossed at each other. This comedic ingredient lends the film much-needed levity to help balance out the scenes where Johnson swings through the Samoan air while handing onto a helicopter and four cars.
Screenwriters Chris Morgan (who has scripted the bulk of the series) and Drew Pearce layer the film with funny bits that weren’t seen in the previews, so you’ll be surprised when they land. The verbal smack talk hits so hard that I was impressed the film got a PG-13 rating, because these guys, thankfully, push this action delight to the limit with their pranks, chirps, and roasts. Remember, it’s the sincere humor that must come fast and furious in order for the action to stick the landing.
Helen Mirren returns to add her own blend of femme fatale spice, while Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver) drops in for a scene or two to add some lady firepower to the proceedings. Joe Anoa’i (aka Roman Reigns) makes a fine film debut smashing a few things (in addition to a camera man, haha!) while Cliff Curtis adds poignant grace as a Hobbs sibling. The biggest surprise here is the lovely lady who stole the last couple trailers: Lori Pelenise Tuisano, who plays Mamma Hobbs.
For my money, it’s the Samoan sequence that anchors the film and provides a huge payoff for the stakes that are set up heading into the film’s final lap. After a series of beat-downs from Elba’s powerful villain, the gents must fall back on the franchise special: family loyalty. The result is a juicy treat that action lovers should adore.
The film also provides Johnson the opportunity to show off his Samoan culture to a wide audience. This isn’t a quick brush stroke and small bonfire; Leitch, Morgan, and the star slice out a moderate portion of the film to show us who Luke Hobbs truly is. This isn’t a showboat; it’s a power display.
It’s the heart and charisma that has made Johnson a global superstar. Along with being endlessly likable, the man is a convincing action hero and invests everything into these movies. Like Arnold and Sly back in the day, it’s all about commanding the screen, not convincing the audience you are Shakespeare. It’s about making Shakespeare through the art that you choose. Johnson’s art is entertainment, and that is why this movie will make a bajillion dollars.
Statham continues to shift his expertise from pure martial artist leading man to a multi-faceted blend of man of action and laughs. He was the one who stole some of Fate’s better moments, and together with Spy and this one, is carving out quite a niche for himself. Trust me, it doesn’t take much convincing Statham starts throwing his fists and legs around like a British bullet-headed Chuck Norris. He’s the perfect foil here because he keeps up with Johnson’s rollicking comic timing.
The two have a chemistry that powers this movie through some of its most outrageous and ridiculously insane moments. They are the engine of this muscle car, and I’d guess it’ll speed down the road for a couple more entries. And why not? These two are fun to watch work together.
Is Hobbs and Shaw fine art? No, but that wasn’t the intention. The goal here is to pull you out of your seats, engage your funny bone, poke the heart, and make you smile.
The film succeeds on all levels. Vin who?