Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

This is a film filled with idiotic one-liners and mind-numbing special effects that hides but doesn’t eliminate its tiny dramatic impact.

Hobbs and ShawFirst, an admission. I’ve seen all of the Fast and Furious films and I offer no apologies. Though I don’t deny that they are dominated by moments of superficial mindlessness, they all have a bit of social meaning that makes the cinematic experience enjoyable.

This recent Fast and Furious film is no different. Sure, it centers on Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs, an honest agent working for the Diplomatic Security Service in the United States and his old adversary Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a British security outcast. Despite a longstanding hateful relationship, they are forced to reluctantly unite to fight Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), an anarchist who has developed a serum that could destroy life on earth.

In the process, the three of them engage in a battle that extends the movie’s length to two hours and sixteen minutes. Nearly every scene with Hobbs and Shaw centers on a constant exchange of one-liner insults, though you’ve got admit that both Johnson and Statham prove to be some pretty capable actors.

On top of that, Mr. Elba has proven himself to be one of the most popular actors working today, regardless of whether he is a hero or a villain. Here, his serum makes it inevitable that he recovers from any injury and the film’s strength and weakness flows from the three of them involved in constant combat as noted above.

However, what saves the film is the performance of Vannessa Kirby as Hattie Shaw, the sister of Statham’s character. She is a British agent who absorbed some of the serum that she was trying to recover. As a result, she and her two colleagues are left hunting for a way to extract it and save her life. To be quite frank, Ms. Kirby is fascinating at every turn, and you will be quickly reminded of her major contributions to both the last Mission Impossible film (2018) and her memorable role in The Crown.

While I have talked to many friends and acquaintances who would rather be caught dead than buy a ticket to this movie, each of the films has a tiny reward that simply can’t be denied. As for the Shaw brother and sister, it is touching as they reunite with their imprisoned mother, played by the incomparable Helen Mirren in a small role. As for Mr. Johnson, he finds a way to reunite with his lost family in the South Pacific in a climactic battle scene which is both tender and moving.