Showdown time.
Showdown time. Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW: Furious movie is over-the-top ridiculous

If you're expecting Hobbs & Shaw to be anything other than a ridiculous, over-the-top action extravaganza that defies all logic and gravity, then shame on you.

You should know better by now.

We're now on to our ninth The Fast & The Furious movie - this is the first spin-off - and any semblance of restraint went out the window around the third instalment. Subtlety and moderation? Save that for an indie dramedy.

These guys know what the audience wants: big stunts and thrilling chases, and they better be more jaw-dropping than the last big stunts and thrilling chases.

On that measure, Hobbs & Shaw delivers. The stunts are gargantuan and the chases a total thrill-ride. You just have to stifle that scoff when the logical part of your brain goes, "Ha, as if!".

Then the simian part of your brain takes over and your eyes widen, "Ooo, aaah, look at them go!".

Starring bulging muscles
Starring bulging muscles

 

Directed by David Leitch, Hobbs & Shaw teams nemeses Luke Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) up with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). The pair have had their share of run-ins before - let's just saw each other face is mightily familiar with the other's fist.

When the only vial of an insides-melting virus is taken, and an evolution-crazy, cyber-genetics-obsessed apocalypse criminal cult is on the warpath for it, Hobbs and Shaw are called in to set aside their differences and save the world.

Joining them on their crusade is Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), Shaw's sister and a MI6 agent.

If The Fast & The Furious movies are about the family you make for yourselves, then Hobbs & Shaw is swinging behind blood family.

A family affair
A family affair

 

Idris Elba's Brixton Lore, a former MI6 colleague of Shaw's, makes for a formidable foe. He calls himself Black Superman at one point and he's not wrong - except for the evildoing part. Oh, and he can't fly.

There's a whole warped philosophy behind Brixton and his overlords, which the movie spends too much time expounding on, but it's merely a conduit to the action. Yeah, bring on that smashing!

Hobbs & Shaw is a global adventure that spans London, Moscow and Samoa and it barely ever lets up.

There are some (relatively) quieter moments when the banter and jibing takes over - and you can thank Leitch's Deadpool 2 pals Ryan Reynolds and Rob Delaney, and Johnson's buddy Kevin Hart, for much of the levity.

Johnson and Statham have great chemistry together, especially in the earlier part of the movie when they're brimming with antagonism towards each other, a couple of Walter Matthaus and Jack Lemmons in the making. It's actually really fun to watch.

Oh look, it's the bad guy Picture: Frank Masi/Universal Pictures
Oh look, it's the bad guy Picture: Frank Masi/Universal Pictures

 

Leitch was a famous Hollywood stuntman before he moved into the director's chair, originally as an uncredited co-director on John Wick before taking on Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2.

That means his action sequences have always been really impressive, and carries a gravity that isn't always present in these bigger franchises.

Here though, it's a little too slick. The choreography is inventive and exciting - Elba getting on to a motorbike is ballet-like - but the edits are too fast. The fight sequences never seem to hold a frame for longer than three seconds and everyone manages to walk it off.

There's nothing like Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, and her bruised and battered physicality after a punishing scuffle.

Appealing to the simian parts of our brains Picture: Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures
Appealing to the simian parts of our brains Picture: Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures

 

But that kind of reality is not in The Fast & The Furious' DNA. We're not meant to believe what we see. For one thing, anyone who's ever been stuck in London traffic knows that first car chase is wish-fulfilment. In a meta moment, even one of the characters remark how completely ridiculous their plan is.

Its only fidelity is to spectacle while keeping it light enough so it doesn't weigh you down too much.

If you want a considered movie with deep characterisation and lots of challenging ideas to unravel, Hobbs & Shaw isn't it.

This is a movie where you can laugh at the number of times Johnson flexes his biceps and snigger at people running vertically down a glass skyscraper all while indulging your inner pyro with all the things going kaboom.

Hobbs & Shaw is purely for shallow entertainment.

Rating: 3/5

Hobbs & Shaw is in cinemas today

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