Movie Review | Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Summary: Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity. (IMDb)
First, a clarification: I have never seen any of the Fast & Furious movies before this spin-off from that series and therefore I have no prior connection to, or knowledge of, the characters and their relationship with each other. In other words, I'm coming in to Hobbs & Shaw similar to someone who started watching the MCU with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The thing is, I don't really have an issue with the characters or picking up how they feel about each thanks to their past thanks to the movie beating you over the head with it to the point of exhaustion. And that's just one small way in how Hobbs & Shaw seriously pads out its running time to... make the movie longer? I can't think of any other reason.
The movie makes sure you know how much the title characters dislike each other by having about half a dozen scenes where they take a break from the story to do nothing but insult each other. It's never a case of one of them having a pop at the other, then the injured party having a snappy comeback to deflate them before moving on - it's extended insult sessions.
If you halved the number of this type of scene and cut the insults down to one or two each, you could easily save around ten minutes from the running time. To be fair, this is true of almost every single 'character' moment, where there'll be at least one scene covering the exact same ground with almost the exact same lines to boot - cut them, make the movie as lean as its stars and voila! A better movie.
There's also an entire section in the middle of the movie where Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) need to steal a device from the antagonists, which takes around thirty minutes. This extended chunk of the movie does literally nothing else to advance the film other than them getting that device - so why is the section so long? Again, trim it down by around ten minutes and get rid of the padding.
This padding is the movie's main problem - there's just so much unnecessary filler. Hobbs & Shaw is 137 minutes long and there's only about 90 minutes of actual content here. I'd love to see the 'fat free' version of this movie, because there's a lot here that I really enjoyed when the movie wasn't repeating itself.
Johnson and Statham work brilliantly together and I'd love to see these characters team up again if there's just a little less repetition in their interactions. Both men are clearly enjoying the movie - although considering how indulgent it all feels, that shouldn't really come as a surprise - and some of their insults are genuinely funny, even if they are a little immature (Shaw giving Hobbs the cover identity of 'Mike Oxmaul' a perfect example).
The action's pretty good too, which I think audiences have come to expect from David Leitch thanks to his work on the first John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. Again, they go on longer than really needed, but there's no denying that they're still high quality set pieces that are great to watch.
I also like Vanessa Kirby's role in the movie and was glad to see her get a more physical part after the briefest glimpse of what she was capable of in the incredible Mission: Impossible - Fallout. While I don't think she meshed too well with Johnson and Statham, feeling far more intelligent and mature than either of the men, I'd also be happy for her to come back and see if things can get better.
Idris Elba is left with the short end of the stick though, at least as far as characterisation goes. He plays a generic super-villain - oh yeah, this is a full on sci-fi action franchise apparently - and only keeps your attention because Elba is just that talented an actor. Shame he wasn't given more to do, because he never feels like a threat.
Then again, there never really feels like any tension in this movie. An article came out recently claiming that Johnson and Statham had agreements in their contract that they were to never look bad in their action scenes. Unfortunately, this removes any sense of threat or danger from the Elba and his forces, meaning there's no real catharsis when it all comes to a head in the finale.
Hobbs & Shaw isn't a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it does waste a lot of time on meaningless scenes that should never have made the final cut. The action is good, the chemistry between Johnson and Statham is great and I'd like to see more of them working together, but there's also large chunks of the movie that repeat earlier scenes and will probably leave you wondering how many times you're going to be shown the same thing.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a movie that matches it's title: over-long and padded with unnecessary content. There's some really good stuff here, but the people who made this film clearly don't believe in less is more. I'd be okay with seeing a sequel, but it wouldn't need anything over 100 minutes based on this showing - and make the bad guys feel truly dangerous at least once, okay?