Summary: I enjoyed watching Hobbs and Shaw (H&S). it has heart and emotional depth, with great acting, fantastic special effects, fast pacing, and excellent cinematography. Do not think about it; that will ruin the experience. It shows us seldom-mention and interesting aspects of America. No spoilers!
H&S gives the videogame experience without the work of mastering a game. Experience driving fast cars doing impossible feats (the shocks are the true heroes of the film). Blithely disregard laws (it is a world with few police). Run through a hail of gunfire (as always in films, bad guys cannot shoot well). Easily beat up large numbers of bad guys. Hang out with hot babes. It is a 14-year-old boy’s dream of masculinity. And deep down in most of us guys is our 14-year-old self, who can still enjoy films like this.
Unfortunately, the dialog sounds as if it was written by a 14-year-old-boy (albeit a smart one, who has heard of Nietzsche). Worse, the men act like 14-year-old boys. Throughout the entire film the Hobbs and Shaw exchange schoolyard insults – and with the world at stake, they cannot work together (until the clock runs down and the film is ending). The other males are just as pitiful, in different ways.
I could describe the plot. But why bother? See the trailer below. Anyway, it makes little sense and is generic. The action is cartoonish. The heroes are indestructible, which drains the many fight scenes of their drama.
The film depicts many fascinating aspects of modern America, putting things we do not see in ourselves up on the big screen. I will mention just a few here.
Hobbs and Madame M (Eiza González), both in their actionware.
An important point, emphasized by many of the critics – do not worry, PC gender norms are observed in the film. The women kick ass as well as the men, and are both smarter and more mature. For example, the women are the hackers (as usual in film-world). When the men act as fools, women set them straight. Dads are bad guys; moms are the voice of reason. And, also as usual in film-world, the women initiate first kisses.
The three leads are opposites. US Diplomatic Service agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) lives a middle-class life in LA. He plays the role like he is channeling a friendly Conan the Barbarian. Debonair but cranky criminal (retired?) Shaw (Jason Statham) enjoys a luxury lifestyle in London, because crime pays well in this film. MI-6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) is the standard action girl. As usual for these, she dresses like a guy, but with a cosmetic-heavy beautiful face. She does a lot with a shallowly-written role.
The minor male characters are the plot’s butt-monkeys. The minor women characters are wise, powerful, and competent.
Idris Elba gives a powerful and nuanced portrayal of Brixton, the evil Black superman. He works for a Leftist organization. Like many Leftist organizations, it is mostly white men with a few token others. Like its counterpart in Kingsman: The Secret Service, they believe that people are destroying the world, so we need a lot fewer of them. That is a logical deduction from the Extinction Rebellion’s propaganda; let’s hope nobody competent applies it. In H&S they are also traditionalists, returning the Left to is early-20th-century advocacy of eugenics (e.g., Margaret Sanger): they plan a genocide of the weak.
Like Return Of The Jedi and Avatar, the film ends with Ewoks (actually, giant Samoan men) using sticks to fight heavily armed mercenaries (not a spoiler: it’s in the trailer). Like its predecessors, this a fun version of the by-now boring standard big fight scene.
Some useful notes about the film.
- The scenes in the credits were not worth the wait.
- I recommend that you do not pay for the D-Box experience (motion-effects chairs). I found it annoying and quickly turned it off. I wish I had, as usual, seen the 3-D version.
- See Eiza González’s Before and (many) After photos. She is a triumph of cosmetic surgery.
What the critics say.
You know what the favorable reviews say without reading them. The “rotten” reviews are more interesting and show the film’s flaws. Not that they matter in a F&F film.
“Beefy, bald and back to save the world” by Jake Wilson in the Sydney Morning Herald. Deadly accurate commentary.
“The first The Fast and the Furious debuted in 2001. Back then, the series tapped into the long forgotten thirst by bros to admire cars, women, chases of women and cars, and high octane dumb action sequences. The action regularly grinds to a halt so they can trade elaborate putdowns, which give every sign of having been crafted by writers whose practical experience of brawling has occurred mostly on Twitter. The total effect isn’t so far from the spoofing of machismo which is a speciality of Will Ferrell – as director David Leitch underlines via the bemused reactions of Vanessa Kirby as Shaw’s sister Hattie, a slinky secret agent who is also a voice of wry British common sense.”
“Hobbs and Shaw sputters to the end” by Robert Daniels at 812 Film Reviews. I agree with this.
“The final chase sequence lacks sharpness and punch. Much of this owes to the lack of practical effects and stunts, and cars too. Instead, these chases rely on more CG than any other Fast and Furious, and it shows, because the CG isn’t high quality either, even with the movie’s $200 mill. budget. Instead, shots are out of focus, and the cuts are generic in pacing.”
“A Bloated, Numbing Action Spectacle” by Julian Roman at MovieWeb. This nails the weaknesses of the film.
“Hobbs & Shaw pours more octane and adrenaline into the Fast & Furious formula. The result is a bloated CGI spectacle that’s near cartoonish at times. Action guru David Leitch, who directed John Wick and Deadpool 2, loses focus in the barrage of fights, chases, and explosions. The onslaught has no flow. The scenes in the beginning are better executed than the finale. At a numbing two hours and sixteen minutes, everything blurs together. What works is the chemistry of the leads and locker room humor. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham chew up the screen with their juvenile banter.
“The first showdown with Brixton and ensuing motorcycle versus McLaren chase is amazing. David Leitch, who spent years as a top stuntman and stunt coordinator, delivers an expertly choreographed sequence. The problem is that nothing else in the film compares to it. Everything that follows looks like a video game. The over the top action becomes blase, a deluge of CGI filler.
“Hobbs & Shaw pummel baddies nonstop throughout the film. The problem is that the faceless attackers line up for a beatdown on queue. Bad guys mill about in the background, then take their turn like dominoes. Hobbs & Shaw are just as invincible as Idris Elba’s cyborg Superman. They fall out of buildings, smash through walls, and nary a scratch. The fisticuffs become tedious when there’s no danger involved.”
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Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- “Justice League” is the film we need, not the one we deserve.
- “Avengers: Infinity War” is boring. Watch some anime instead.
- Aquaman rocks. Also, the future of superhero flicks.
- Captain Marvel – fun for kids, swill for adults.
- SHAZAM! It’s fun indoctrination for kids.
- “Avengers Endgame” is three slow hours of fun and sorrow.
- “Spiderman: Far From Home” – Spidey returns to his roots.
Trailer for Hobbs and Shaw