By Anna Husted EBS FILM CRITIC
The number of outfit changes in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” almost exceeds the amount of ball-busting banter thrown between Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Not only was this movie hilarious in the mutual defamation tossed between Hobbs and Shaw, but it also exceeded my expectations in comedy and action.
Our two heroes hate each other but are the only people in the world who can save it from a deadly virus stolen by Shaw’s sister Hattie (an outstanding Vanessa Kirby) so the bad guys, a Terminator-type Brixton (Edris Elba) and an off-screen supervillain named Etheon, can be foiled. The only way Hattie could keep the virus out of Brixton’s hands was to inject it into her own arm. Now the dynamic duo has only 72 hours to extract the virus from Hattie’s veins before it kills her—but they must do so while also avoiding Brixton and his cronies.
Unsurprisingly, the movie’s plot requires the implausible: flying to the U.K., Russia and Samoa, which cannot be done in 72 hours, but minor plot holes matter little when the action and insults are the best part of the movie.
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” utilizes a split screen multiple times to convey comedy through action, as the contrasting behaviors of the protagonists, seen at the same time, are among the funniest parts of the movie; In the opening sequence Hobbs is seen chewing coffee grounds for breakfast while Shaw simultaneously makes himself an espresso. In yet another scene, Hobbs chooses to jump out of a building to catch the repelling villain while Shaw takes the elevator and beats them both to the bottom. This continual use of split screen creates comedy gold.
Now, the juicy action, what we come to expect in any Johnson or Statham film. Without giving too much away, the car chase scene in Britain gives “Baby Driver” a run for its money. Shot in a hand-held camera style, this car chase scene pays homage to “The French Connection” and gives literal reference to “The Italian Job”—is Shaw also Handsome Rob? I believe he is. There is also no way these two beef cakes could fit into a McLaren, but the illusion works because this film is just not based in reality.
Another comedic motif throughout the film is each character’s mutual love for fashion that far exceeds that of the female lead’s, a role reversal you don’t often see. These male characters change clothes so often it makes no sense that they only have carry-ons on their various flights. Charming plot holes abound. Fashion paired with the film’s clarity in action choreography makes for a sleek and fun look.
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” does a great job of showing the in-between scenes. The scenes that do not have action or plot points are the funniest because they are full of clever insults and famous cameos. At one point Hobbs and Shaw are tortured for information and even then they hate each other more than they hate Brixton because there is nothing worse than being tortured, except being tortured next to your greatest frenemy.
As absurd as “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is, I could watch this film for the rest of my life and die happy. It’s clever, action-packed, and satisfying imbued with 21st Century action.
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is now playing in theaters.
Anna Husted has a master’s in film studies from New York University. In Big Sky she can be found hiking a mountain or at the movies at Lone Peak Cinema. When not gazing at the silver screen or watching her new favorite TV show, she’s reading, fishing or roughhousing with her cat, Indiana Jones.