tue 20/08/2019

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw review – falls flat fast | reviews, news & interviews

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw review – falls flat fast

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw review – falls flat fast

Vanessa Kirby steals but can't save F&F spin-off starring The Rock and Jason Statham

Who needs guns or muscles when you can talk someone to death: Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as Hobbs and Shaw

“You know twinkle toes, in another life I bet me and you could’ve done some serious damage.” 

When Jason Statham’s bad guy turned good finally warmed to Dwayne Johnson’s cartoon-like lawman in Fast & Furious 8, it could well have been a cue for this spin-off focussed on the two bickering beefcakes.

It seems a smart call. Once the Fast & Furious franchise swapped its custom car testosterone and faux-Zen philosophy for more extravagant action and tongue-in-cheek banter, it became infinitely more enjoyable. And the rivalry between Statham’s Deckard Shaw and Johnson’s Luke Hobbs  – between technique and brawn, estuary growl and West Coast breeze – was very much part of the appeal. 

Throw in a new director, David Leitch, whose work includes the first John Wick and Deadpool 2 (top-drawer, über-action movies, the latter very funny) and two classy Brits (Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby) in supporting roles, and you’d expect this to maintain the franchise’s upward curve. 

That it actually fails, dismally, to do so offers yet more proof to the adage that a director can ruin a good script, but can’t turn a bad script into a good film. And this script is a turkey. 

The magpie plot has Shaw’s estranged little sister and MI6 agent Hattie (Kirby, pictured left with Statham) appropriate a deadly virus from a sinister organisation, whose surgically enhanced enforcer (Elbe) is on her trail. Hobbs and Shaw, who seem to have forgotten that they ended the last film as allies, are therefore less than happy to be reunited in a bid to find her first.

The opening section in London is the best, partly due to a pair of excellent action sequences – one involving a pursuit down the outside of a skyscraper, the other on wheels through the city streets – and partly the introduction of Kirby’s resourceful agent, who is head and shoulders the highlight of the film.

Best known as Princess Margaret in The Crown, but with a small role in Mission Impossible – Fallout (everything this film would wish to be) Kirby’s got it all: the twinkle in the eye, the ability to convince both as Stathan’s sister and Johnson’s love interest, a nimble approach to fight scenes which is refreshing alongside the battering rams. 

But Kirby aside, it all feels increasingly loud and exhausting. When Hattie berates her partners for alpha male squabbling, she’s speaking for us all. The trading of insults might have worked before, in short bursts, but neither writing nor delivery can sustain that single mode for an entire movie. 

Seemingly significant characters are introduced then immediately vanish. A glaringly sensible battle plan is ignored for the most risibly stupid. By the time we reach the preposterous climax, which literally can’t settle on whether it’s night or day, even the filmmakers seem to have stopped watching.

When Hattie berates her partners for alpha male squabbling, she’s speaking for us all

rating

Editor Rating: 
1
Average: 1 (1 vote)

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