Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

The Plot:

U.S. DSS Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and British Intelligence Agent Shaw (Jason Statham) reluctantly team up to battle enhanced human Brixton (Idris Elba).

MI6 operative Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) carries a population-killing virus. Hobbs and Shaw must retrieve the virus and stop Brixton from loosing the deadly strain upon humanity.

Kent's Take:

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is a straightforward action movie defined by its heavy musical beat, special effects enhanced action and mediocre writing.

A “Fast & Furious” film this is not. The “Fast & Furious” franchise is built upon fast cars, cool action and its strong stories rooted in the strength of family.

This sci-fi action extravaganza will thrill those looking for fast-paced, over-the-top action, but make sure that you check your reality and common sense at the door.

Hulking Hobbs solves his cases with his muscles, whereas Shaw uses more “finesse” to beat his victims into submission. Unfortunately, after introducing these subtle differences, they are never used in the film. Instead, both men insult one another with fraternity-style insults about the others’ testicles and small endowment.

Testosterone-fueled films work well when placed within a strong story. Here the film tries to balance drama with its humor, but the humor doesn’t weave into the plot resulting in hiccups in the film’s pacing.

Johnson and Statham maximize their characters’ potential offering some funny moments early and there is no denying that these men are truly outstanding action heroes. Yet, as the drama heightens late, there is no substance on which to anchor our emotions. Idris Elba flaunts his skill as an actor, offering a performance that elevates his role and the film as a whole.

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is a film of missed opportunities. Cheap redundant laughs, a predictable plot and pedestrian writing separate this story from its “Fast & Furious” cousins.

Mark’s Take:

“Hobbs & Shaw” portends an interesting development for the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Movies can no longer stand on their own merits but must be integrated into some kind of “cinematic universe”, whether that style benefits the film or not.

The titular Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) are reunited after “The Fate of the Furious” to save the world from a doomsday virus and the cyborg super-soldier Brixton (Idris Elba), whose origins are never adequately explained. Along the way, there are many explosions, toppled buildings and exchanged punches.

The actors themselves are the movie’s best element by far. This is an all-star cast (with some surprising cameos included) that carries the film despite its weak, cliché script. Johnson and Statham mix like peanut butter and chocolate; the most memorable parts of the movie are them insulting each other, seemingly ad-libbed.

The script is mediocre at best, though that is often to be expected with such machismo-laden action spectacles. However, the action itself is often lackluster. This is “Fast & Furious” in name only. Some car chases are included, but they are half-hearted attempts to connect with the rest of the series, and the fist-fights are punctuated with slow-motion for no discernable reason. Also, the third act’s setting feels forced, taking place in Samoa. While that’s as good a location as any for a final fight, the large amount of Samoan culture, religion and even language presented in the last twenty minutes lead one to believe it was primarily made for Johnson to show off his heritage.

It’s too soon to say whether the franchise’s foray into the cinematic universe format will prove successful. Regardless, the result of this experiment is not particularly memorable, which is disappointing for such a spectacle film.

Mark is a senior at the University of Missouri Columbia who resides in Webster Groves and is guest critic this week.