Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw Movie Review
Stupid is as stupid does, or so goes this spinoff from the already dumb Fast & Furious franchise. Hobbs & Shaw, a pedestrian action-comedy presented as blockbuster, has its entertaining moments, but between forgettable action sequences and annoying banter, it grows tiresome long before the end credits finally arrive.
Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham star in the title roles (both playing characters who were born in the Fast & Furious movies), but it’s Ryan Reynolds who steals the show.
While the David Leitch movie spends considerable time with the two antagonistic “partners” calling each other names to the point of pure tedium, it’s only Reynolds—who plays a bit role at best—who truly understands how to make the lackluster screenplay by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce gold. Reynolds takes full advantage of the unnecessarily long dialogue scenes the audience is otherwise subjected to by delivering one of the most satisfyingly awkward characters you’ll see all year.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie consists of increasingly terrible dialogue, a trait that has plagued both leading actors for much of their careers—between Johnson’s charisma and Statham’s fighting ability, screenwriters—nor directors or studio heads—seem to think they don’t need good material.
Meanwhile, Idris Elba, easily the most talented actor of the bunch, gets saddled with the stereotypical evil villain role and is forced to say lines such as “genocide schmenocide.” He almost says it convincingly.
Hobbs & Shaw doesn’t have much of a plot other than the cliché “stop bad guys from getting a virus that will wipe out the global population” motifs, but that could be overcome by convincingly great action—which Hobbs & Shaw unfortunately doesn’t have. The action is by no means terrible, but it isn’t all that good either; there’s punching, shooting, and car chases, but it all blobs together into a generic “entertaining in the moment but forgettable immediately afterwards” package.
What really sucks about Hobbs & Shaw is that it seems to go out of its way to be dumb for no apparent reason—and it’s often a lot funnier when it’s unintentionally bad than when it’s purposefully trying to be. The film’s final 40 minutes, set in Samoa and literally, completely unnecessary to the movie—seriously, you could have excised it from the film reel and no one would notice—is a painful amalgam of inane action, momentum-killing family reconciliation drama, and unintentional stupidity. The funniest part of the whole movie is that in the span of 30 minutes—you know this, because there is literally a countdown timer—the magical world of Samoa goes from nighttime to daytime and back to nighttime again, with a rain storm that suddenly appears thrown in for good measure.
Don’t get me started on the final car chase, which makes no sense, defies all laws of gravity and physics, and isn’t particularly fun to watch.
Even still, for all its faults, Hobbs & Shaw has its entertaining stretches. The banter between Johnson and Statham becomes obnoxious quickly but works in small doses, the introduction of badass Vanessa Kirby (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) is an inspired choice, and the action, while not remarkable, is not without its moments. There is stuff to enjoy here—just not enough to account for its two-hour-plus running time.
Diehard fans of the Fast & Furious may be able to overlook many of the movie’s flaws—the franchise, having peaked with Fast Five (the first involving Johnson), has always toyed with absurdity—but Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw comes dangerously close to jumping the shark and nuking the fridge.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.