Do you remember those old Kool-Aid commercials, where a giant man-pitcher bursts through a wall hollering “Oh YEAH!”?
More than anything else, this is what the new Fast & Furious spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw reminded me of — just, in this case, the pitcher was filled with fermented testosterone and bullet-shaped marshmallows. And the wall was my feeble grasp of reality.
The film, again like Kool-Aid, adequately sated my thirst for comic destruction. In it, a lot things — stupid things, mostly — got punched and kicked and driven over and shot and injected and defenstrated and scowled at intensely.
Sure. Whatever. No one cares. Just as no one ever gave the Kool-Aid man a bill for replastering. Some guys have enough charisma to get away with anything. To that list, we shall add Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Jason “the Languid Cuttlefish” Statham, and the Kool-Aid man. Also, fuck it: how about Hobbs & Shaw villain, Idris Elba, too? I mean, his character has a name but IDRIS ELBA? Man was born to play the Black Superman, even if the part is somewhat lacking in motivation, arc, and excuses to use a blowtorch on Smurf Village.
Also in this film? Zero Vins Diesel. Nary a one. Not a cameo, not a flashback, not a name drop to poor Dominic Toretto. Which — while glorious — makes the whole “we need to save the world” premise even more far-fetched. For who is better suited to saving the world (again), then a guy who used to steal stereos off of moving trucks and has gone on to save the world numerous times by translating skid marks into vivid 3D pictures of multi-auto mayhem? Where better to hide from the ne-er-do-wells of the world, who seek to destroy all life with a programmable virus, but in a somewhat run-down family home in Los Angeles? Why not call Dom?
I mean, beyond the fact that he’s insufferable and less intelligent than an uncooked meat patty?
Have I digressed? It’s possible. This is the first post I’ve written for this blog in an extremely long time. I almost forget how to write a post. Do I say things about movies? Like, what happens in them?
Sure. We can do that.
Hobbs & Shaw is the touching story of how two mismatched alpha males fight a shadowy cartel for possession of a super-virus and the woman in whom that virus is chillaxing (Vanessa Kirby). Along the way, the trio grows to recognize that what’s really important is merchandising. And family? Yes. Family.
Always with the family, these yeggs. I can’t wait for Fast & Furious Babies, which can’t be that far off.
Hobbs & Shaw is preposterous, but not as preposterous as one might hope, if one has seen all the other Fast & Furious films. Which, natch, I have.
This fact is due to a simple but serious miscalculation: by only bringing along Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Statham), the spin-off shucks away the various other F&F family members — and those are the knuckleheads one has a hard time believing could unwrap a stick of butter without using their mouths but who somehow save the world. Hobbs & Shaw are clearly the series’ most competent characters and, thus, them having punch-ups with Brixton Lore (Elba, but c’mon: Brixton Lore? Are we using a super-villain name generator?) seems rote.
Compare this with Vin Diesel’s Toretto outwitting Cypher (Charlize Theron) in the last Furious film — a turn of events as plausible as your Cuisinart winning a Nobel Prize in Break Dancing. Completely implausible = funny. Just overblown = mildly amusing, while drunk.
Writing this post, I feel a lack of luster. The hyperbolic, brain-flagellating (stupid) effects of the other F&F films just don’t reach a boil here. It’s not that Hobbs & Shaw isn’t as good, or enjoyable — it’s that it’s better, and that makes it worse.
So, good job? Congratulations? You’ve made a healthy, fresh-baked Ding Dong and didn’t even do so ironically.
Hobbs & Shaw is directed by David Leitch, who also helmed Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2 and (as uncredited co-director) John Wick. Leitch knows his way around an ass-kicking action scene and does a robust job of bouncing back and forth entertainingly between mayhem and comedy. There’s nothing wrong with Hobbs & Shaw except that nothing is wrong with it. There’s no utterly preposterous submarine chase. There’s no driving between skyscrapers or dragging the moon back into orbit with a souped-up Dodge Charger and a length of twine.
The craziest we get is some helicopter rope-a-dope that you’ve seen in the trailer. And, frankly, that just doesn’t cut it. The helicopter needs to be filled with clones of zombie Abraham Lincolns on magic motorcycles. It needs rotors that can cut through mountains using the intra-dimensional power of Axe Body Spray.
It’s like the writer (Chris Morgan, again) said, “Hey guys. Let’s make this one smaller scale. Let’s keep it real. Let’s have a cyborg supervillain but extend-o arms and eye lasers and death farts; save that for another day.”
I still love me some extra-stupid Fast & Furious family fiascos, but this one was only stupid. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it needed more Vin Diesel.
May god have mercy on my soul.