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Review: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Never in my life have I been attacked by this much testosterone. 

Full disclosure, I have never seen a single movie in The Fast and the Furious (2001 – present) franchise. I’ve never had any interest. I also don’t have the greatest interest in Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham movies. Hell, I’m not even interested in cars! And yet, fate had me seeing the franchise’s first spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw (2019) so here I am. While my introduction to the world of The Fast and the Furious certainly wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever sat through, I definitely found myself spacing out more than once. Which I’m guessing is the opposite effect that this buddy-action movie wanted to have on its audience. By the way, I ended up having to sit in the very first row to see this movie so I’m really trying to not let that discomfort taint how I review this movie.

Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 8.46.45 PM
Credit: / Universal Pictures

Hobbs & Shaw follows the titular characters as they are reluctantly required to join forces on an adventure that takes them around the world. When a terrorist organization wants to use a deadly virus to wipe out half of the planet’s population, Hobbs and Shaw must put aside their differences to save the world. Tagging along for the ride is Shaw’s sister Hattie, an MI6 agent with an insider knowledge of the virus.

The amount of bros I saw standing in line for tickets was truly staggering. You would have thought there was a sale on Axe body spray or Ed Hardy shirts. Honestly, after sitting through all two hours and 16 minutes of Hobbs & Shaw (which is, for the record, far too long a runtime) I’m pretty sure I’m a bro now too. How could I not be? After being exposed to non-stop explosions, car chases and perhaps the most overly masculine moments ever put to film, I am changed. Seriously though, Hobbs & Shaw is exactly what you’d expect it to be: a loud and thrilling summer action blockbuster that excites and entertains. Although, I have to admit that as heart-pounding and filled with adrenaline as this movie undoubtedly is, there were multiple times where I found myself bored.

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Credit: / Universal Pictures

I can’t quite explain it but I get bored during extended action sequences in movies. For me it’s like something is happening, but at the same time nothing is happening y’know? I think the reason I get bored is because in action movies like this one, the protagonists are professionals who already know how to do everything perfectly. For me, that means there’s no sense of doubt, or real fear of losing which doesn’t give the scene, or the movie overall, any real stakes or consequences. I don’t want my protagonists to be perfect machines. I want them to be flawed humans with real struggles. I much prefer action comedies like Get Smart (2008) or Spy (2015) where the protagonists are underdogs and you find yourself rooting for them to overcome the intimidating odds.

As charismatic as Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are as Hobbs and Shaw respectively, I just couldn’t find myself really investing in their characters. Granted, I know absolutely nothing about their backstories as presented in past The Fast and the Furious movies, but both Hobbs and Shaw came off less as true characters, and more like walking stereotypes of every action hero ever seen. Hey, if that works for you and what you want in an action movie, than God bless. You’ll love them! However, I’m looking for a little more depth. Just a teensy bit.

Speaking of lack of depth, oh wow was this script mediocre. This movie must have been incredibly easy to write because I’d say that a good 75 per cent of the dialogue is just one-liners, cheesy action hero catchphrases and iterations of how much Hobbs and Shaw hate each other. Admittedly, their hostile yet friendly rivalry is incredibly entertaining to watch and hands-down the best part of the movie, and the overall plot of the deadly virus is an interesting one. The rest of the script however feels like two 14-year-olds who have never talked to a real person wrote it. Clichéd sayings, one-dimensional characters, an actual “yo mama” diss…there were times where I literally thought to myself, “wow, I can’t believe this is a real movie.” Yet still, I can’t decide if Hobbs & Shaw is serious or self-aware. Is its ridiculously over the top to genuinely be cool? Or just to indulge in all the silliness of action movies? Hmmmm, we may never know.

Tone-wise, I’d say Hobbs & Shaw is most reminiscent of a Marvel movie: Smart-ass heroes, a genetically-altered villain and a ton of short comedy sketches woven in-between shaky heavily-edited fight scenes. In short, it’ll appeal to the masses and everyone who sees it will end up enjoying it. And honestly, they should. Despite my criticisms, Hobbs & Shaw is a genuinely fun, if not predictable, movie-going experience. It’s the type of shovel-popcorn-in-your-face movie that not only dominates the summer box office, but adds some fun to the season. Look, I can criticize this movie ’til the cows come home, but at the end of the day I can’t deny that this is a fun and  entertaining movie. It’s the quintessential action movie. If you’re looking for edge-of-your-seat exhilaration coupled with mindless violence and a lighthearted tone, than Hobbs & Shaw is the movie for you.

Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 9.07.18 PM
Credit: / Universal Pictures

Though it offers nothing necessarily new or exciting to the genre as a whole, the electric chemistry between Johnson and Statham as well as wonderfully engaging performances from Vanessa Kirby and Idris Elba secure Hobbs & Shaw as a solid movie-going experience. Though there were multiple times I thought to myself, “ugh, this movie is still going on,” fans of the beloved series are sure to be pleased. Hell, even the casual movie-goer is sure to find pleasure in it. Turn your brain off and enjoy it!

Are you a fan of The Fast and the Furious? Will you see Hobbs & Shaw?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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