Film review ‘FAST AND FURIOUS: HOBBS AND SHAW’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

As if eight inexplicably popular movies, in the mind-numbing Fast and Furious franchise weren’t enough, the series, like a mutant beast, has sprouted another limb in the form of the ludicrous but not particularly fun spinoff, Hobbs and Shaw. This film is as punishingly loud, soulless, chaotic and utterly preposterous as previous instalments in the franchise, even though it moves further from its petrol-head action roots into the world of Bond-esque, sci fi-infused espionage.

Here, Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson’s mountainous government agent Hobbs and Jason Statham’s contemptuous British black ops mercenary, Shaw – who have clashed physically and verbally in previous instalments – are forced to work together to combat a sinister, technically advanced cult and its genetically enhanced super soldier Brixton (Idris Elba) who want to unleash a pandemic to purge the world of regular puny humans.

This outrageous plot device provides an excuse for endless, over-the-top, CGI-drenched action sequences full of gigantic explosions, monster truck chases, disturbing gun worship, auto destruction, physics defying stunts, bloodless shoot-outs and jerkily filmed, near incomprehensible fight scenes. Despite the eardrum-pummelling clamour the action isn’t thrilling; there’s no threat as characters survive vicious blows, bomb blasts and helicopter crashes rendering these scenes as emotionally inert as a video game.

The film also continues what is meant to be an hilariously fractious rivalry between Hobbs and Shaw but the endless squabbling and shouting that is supposed to pass for banter is headache-inducing and their relentless metaphorical dick measuring contests become tedious. For all their bickering and presumably traumatic shared experience there’s no sense of character or relationship development for the two leads; God forbid they should mess with the formula.

Still, individually, Johnson and Statham exude flickers of charisma with Johnson, at least for now, amiable enough as the goofy, over-confident muscle man while Statham hasn’t yet rendered his grumpy geezer persona completely redundant. The two are joined by Vanessa Kirby as Shaw’s kick-ass MI6 agent sister Hattie who proves just as effective as the lads at despatching faceless and astonishingly inept bad guys. As the terminator-like Brixton, Idris Elba has a slightly menacing presence for about five seconds before he starts to look like a ridiculous attempt at shoe-horning a Marvel-style character into the F & F universe. A few name cameos are meant to provide comedy relief but there’s no convincing drama or tension to relieve here.

No doubt, this film’s relentless sensory assault will tick all the boxes for fans but anyone who values nuance, character development and films with a coherent story are advised to keep away.

Nick’s rating: **

Genre: Action.

Classification: M.

Director(s): David Leitch.

Release date: 1st Aug 2019.

Running time: 136 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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