Horrorible Review: “Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw”

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

There are a lot of reasons to go to a Fast and Furious movie. Maybe you like a lot of mindless action sequences with buff guys and girls beating up the bad guys. Or, you like seeing a big screen version of Need for Speed in exotic places all over the world with cars driven by very pretty people. Or, you just like looking at very pretty people of both the buff men with a heart of gold or fashion model women who can also kick butt. There’s also witty repartee rather than heavy plot – they somehow manage to repeatedly reduce saving the world into a paper-thin plot. Kudos for that?

Oh, we all know people go to see all of those things, and you get nearly all of that in the newest Fast and Furious, this time showcasing two characters from the past films. If you’re looking for any of the other crew to show up you’ll be waiting a while. Deckard Shaw began as a bad guy a few films back but has slowly been undergoing renovation, thanks to the remarkable restorative powers of actor Jason Statham (no one can stand it when he’s bad I guess). He’s part of a highly professional crime family headed by his mother, played by Helen Mirren, who seems to relish the bad girl roles she’s been playing later in life. Luke Hobbs, played by the remarkably muscular Dwayne Johnson, has had a hate-hate relationship with Shaw forever. Now the two have to get work together, save Shaw’s estranged sister, played by The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby, defeat new bad guy Brixton, played by Idris Alba, and save the world. In that order of difficulty.

These two guys hate each other so much it’s hilarious, which hadn’t gone unnoticed in earlier movies. Both actors are burly action stars of the first order, and they’re both gifted comedically. Someone got the bright idea to craft an entire quarter billion dollar movie around two large men trading insults, and it really works. They gave a few insults to Idris but not enough to really round out his one-note, people-suck-and-should-all-be-removed personality. The trailers for the film give a good taste of the delicious insult candy, but it really is only a taste. I think the movie is about fifteen minutes too long, but since most of that is extra insult time I didn’t mind much.

Action films have always been about the male gaze, with loads of eye candy and highly sexualized images of women. Fast and Furious is no exception, there are a lot of opportunities forced upon the viewer to stare at body parts. The difference here being the hot women are fully capable action heroes, in this movie as portrayed by Vanessa Kerby and a short bit with a gang of model pretty women gangsters. For every shot of a why-bother-to-wear-anything close up of a woman’s butt, we also get a full screen shot of Idris Alba’s butt, and Dwayne Johnson’s amazing torso. I like the idea of the male gaze broadened to firmly include actually heroic women, but it begs the question of whether an audience or the movie truly needs it at all. Oddly, Jason Statham, who always gets his shirt off somehow in a lot of his movies and even I enjoy that, here is not only always fully clad in a long sleeve shirt, he’s also wearing a coat or jacket. In every scene. I didn’t notice it until the Hobbs character cracks yet another joke at Shaw’s expense about it, and now I wonder if Statham’s got a “largest pecs” clause in his contract that hides his body if up against the likes of Idris and Dwayne.

The second biggest reason to watch this franchise spin off is of course the big action sequences. The actors sell a lot of the action, but a large portion of it is computer generated. There’s a lot of movie spent on these films so you would think there wouldn’t be any moments of audience eye rolling at a crudely done stunt that looks completely fake. Of course real people could never do the stuff portrayed on film, but the cgi on a film with this budget shouldn’t look like a student film shot on their phone. I warned my companion that some of it was pretty bad in that respect and still got a disbelieving look and a poke in the ribs. I suppose it’ll be a little better on the small screen. The irony of advancing television technology is that this is not the case so much as it was in the 36 inch analog era.

If you can overlook that weakness and love the insult trade between big action sequences, then I highly recommend this movie. We both laughed out loud several times at the funny, and didn’t hurt our eyes too much with the rolling. The violence is rather non-stop but not as vicious as of some Statham’s other films, and Samoa is a gorgeous place. See it when it comes out, hopefully with a large and boisterous crowd of friends.

LINKS: 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – In Theaters 8/2 (Final Trailer) [HD]

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