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  Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw Playing With The Big Boys
Year: 2019
Director: David Leitch
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza González, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, John Tui, Joshua Mauga, Joe Anoa'i, Rob Delaney, Alex King, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart
Genre: Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: A secret mission to retrieve a deadly virus held in microscopic capsules. A sinister organisation determined to capture this virus for itself and wipe out most of human life on Earth in the mistaken belief it will be for the best. And one woman on the mission taskforce, Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), who prevents that organisation from getting away with their crime, merely by injecting herself with the capsules and making a break for it with the antagonists' cyborg leader, Brixton (Idris Elba), hot on her heels. There are only two men who can save both her and the rest of the world now: lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and criminal Shaw (Jason Statham). Unfortunately, they hate each other...

The Fast & Furious franchise showed no sign of slowing down with this spin-off entry, which to some of the main cast members' chagrin postponed their "official" instalment by a year, yet such was the hunger for this James Bond knock-off entertainment Hobbs & Shaw was not only another huge hit, it whetted the appetites of legions of fans for more, both in the main strand of movies and for a sequel to this. They had done what every prospective franchise wanted to do, follow the Marvel model and craft a cinematic universe, and so star-studded were these efforts that audiences were more than happy to show up time and again to watch whatever adventures this team were offering them.

Hobbs & Shaw was no less preposterous than the main instalments, but if anything they had ramped up the comedy; you would not necessarily describe it as being in the comedy genre, but they obviously had strong leanings to wishing the viewers to laugh. With Statham aboard as producer as well as co-star, you could only imagine he had had such a fun time making Spy, the movie that boosted his profile by surprising people with his brusque sense of humour, he wanted to emulate that tone here. That said, there were also the bits where we were meant to take seriously the family aspects of the plot, just as in the Vin Diesel-led ones, and those parts did drag it down a little.

After all, you wanted to watch The Rock and Statham exchange insults to the point where you half-expected them to start walloping one another with their handbags, not so much see Hobbs get sentimental about his young daughter (Eliana Sua) or Shaw reconcile with his sister, who turns out to be Hattie, once they track her down early in the story. Fair enough, the producers felt the need to stick close to the Fast & Furious formula, but a shade more variation would not have gone amiss. Fortunately, for most of the time this was pleasingly ridiculous, especially in those action sequences where they appeared to have thrown caution to the wind and embraced the possibilities of science fiction. As mentioned in the dialogue, Elba was more or less essaying the role of The Terminator, as absurd as that doubtless sounded.

OK, Elba had more swagger than Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the cybernetically enhanced, daft-named Brixton fulfilled the same requirements, and was a million miles away from the characters who appeared in the very first instalment back in 2001: Gary Scott Thompson was still being credited with the idea here, meaning he must be a multimillionaire by this point purely from having the idea of swapping surfing for street racing in Point Break. In this it was all very indulgent, with celebrity guest stars dropping in and car chases that had the merest glancing recognition of the laws of physics, but crucially where many action flicks were keen to show off without much investment for the audience, the audience were welcomed in on the joke with open arms, and that inclusivity was a big factor in why this mattered to so many across the globe, the behind the scenes as much a soap opera as what happened on the screen. Very silly, then, but lavish silliness honed to a fine point that was easy to enjoy. Music by Tyler Bates.

[Loads of featurettes and interviews on Universal's Blu-ray, more than you probably ever needed to know, but fans will be in F&F heaven.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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