2019, Movies

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019, David Leitch)

This spinoff is reputed by many to be the worst of the interminable Fast & Furious movies. I must admit I still haven’t seen all of them – though I have seen most by this point – but I’m not sure why exactly. Most of the problems with this movie are typical of the problems with every single film in the franchise. But, more importantly this movie doesn’t have Vin Diesel and it doesn’t have as much talk about “family.” Those are pluses in my book.

This is a dumb movie, like all Fast & Furious movies I’ve seen.

  • The characters are just vehicles for banter for the most part, though they give Johnson a daughter and Statham a mom and a sister in order for them to seem closer to real people. (I understand they did that already, in at least 2 of the 3 cases, but I think the point stands.)
  • The action sequences regularly defy the laws of physics and there was one moment in particular when I actually turned to Jenn and said “Even for this franchise that’s physics-defying.” (As with every Fast & Furious film, there is at least one scene in which major characters should have died but didn’t. I think there are at least two in this one.)
  • There is just a ton of CGI and a lot of it looks really bad.
  • The fight scenes waste Statham’s talent and feel a lot more suited to Johnson’s skilset. There’s too much in the way of slow motion and CGI to truly take advantage of Statham’s abilities. (I know this. I have seen a lot of Jason Statham movies.) I get that he’s more of an actor now, but there’s like many one scene in this very long movie that is worthy of his abilities.
  • The stuff in Samoa is corny.

That’s an incomplete list, written a few days after I saw the film (as I was on vacation). Rest assured, there was way more in the moment, but I wasn’t taking notes.

But both Johnson and Statham are more charismatic than Diesel. (That’s a low bar, I know! Also, it’s obvious. But I still feel like I need to say it.) And the cast is too good for the script. Also, to the extent that the dreaded “family” nonsense rears its ugly head, it is at least connected to a culture and place, in a way that it usually isn’t in these films. I don’t think they do a good job of it – it is so corny, and feels like pandering to the film’s audience that thinks the Fast and Furious movies are the great cultural vehicle for diversity and acceptance – but it’s less odious than a car thief going on and on about his moral values.

So what I’m saying is, I’m not sure this is the worst Fast & Furious movie, it might be one of the better ones. But my standards are extremely low, as I do not like these movies and think you’re all crazy for loving them. And just because I think it might be one of the better films in the series doesn’t make me think it’s good movie in any way. It’s not. But none of them are. Years from now people will look back at this film series and ask “Why were they so successful? Was it really so simple as car chases, CGI, relatively diverse cast, banter and “family”?” I guess it is.


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