Fast and the Furious presents: Hobbs & Shaw

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

This continues to be the year of nostalgia with all of the live-action remakes from Disney and the slow-burn hit, Yesterday. With a nod and wink toward the Fast & the Furious franchise and the stylings of 80s action films, Hobbs & Shaw manages to partner the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris of this generation, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Director David Leitch is setting a new standard for the action comedy with his recent dabbling in the John Wick and Deadpool franchises plus redefining the female action star with Atomic Blonde. Can this combination of proven action pedigree make for a winning combination for these established stars and beloved franchise? 

Pulling from the pages of the familiar action playbook, the omniscient and omnipresent terrorist organisation, Eteon, is transporting a virus named Snowflake that could wipe out millions of inhabitants around the globe. An MI6 team led by Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) manage to acquire the chemical weapon, but have their mission interrupted by the cybernetically enhanced face of the terrorist organisation, Brixton Lore, played by the formidable Idris Alba. Hattie manages to escape with the virus injected in her body, with only 72 hours to remove it from her system and contained before world-wide devastation. 

While she tries to stay one step ahead of Lore and the Eteon agents, MI6 and the CIA enlist the help of the British agent’s brother, Deckard Shaw (Statham) and his law-enforcement nemesis, Luke Hobbs (Johnson) to find Hattie first. Leading to a series of globe-hopping expeditions that force the three agents to confront the terrorists and connect with many of their own less-than-legal friends to save the world from disaster. Eventually the three must work together to figure out how to defeat an enemy that seems to be two steps ahead of them at every turn. 

Over the past two decades, The Fast and the Furious films have garnered an unprecedented following of fans who can look past the illogical nature of each screenplay and immerse themselves in the indulgent action and sophomoric humour. Johnson and Statham manage to play to their strengths and complement one another through their caustic banter and likable characters. Then to have Leitch in the director’s chair leads to one of the best combinations of action talent and makes this a guilty pleasure for audiences. 

Venessa Kirby manages to hold her own against these giants in the action genre, but she does become a sideline character as the explosions and chase scenes increase. She adds to the chemistry of this trio along with some notable and hilarious cameos, that do harken back to the action films of yesteryear. Yet, the element that makes this experience complete is the inclusion of Idris Alba as the super-human adversary. He delivers the intensity without taking the whole film too seriously. 

For those expecting award-winning drama from The Fast and the Furious franchise, this film does not lift the dialogue above the most infantile and predictable, but who said they are trying for anything more? This is an adventure for the fans and those who are looking for testosterone-driven escapism that capitalises on the appeal of their lead actors, enjoyable cameos and enough crash scenes to please any motor head who wants to enjoy a night at the movies. Hobbs and Shaw is ridiculous, insults your intelligence and makes no logical sense, but the fans will love it and with this series, that is good enough. 

Reel Dialogue: Can female heroes compete with their male counterparts?

Even though this film is a testosterone fest, Venessa Kirby shows that she can hold her own with these icons of action. As a father of three daughters and one son, something that should be celebrated is the female hero. The problem with most of the female characters portrayed on the big screen is they tend to be overly sexualised or stripped of all femininity or are not allowed to show any actual physical or emotional strength. It is an identity crisis that is not new to our modern era, but when the studios do manage to find the right combination of power and feminity, it is no wonder that they explode in popularity. Hence, the successful examples of the recent incarnations of Captain Marvel and Aladdin.

Christianity tends to get a bad wrap for not celebrating women, but this is not an honest depiction of what can be found in the Bible. Throughout the text, there are examples of strong women and the men who appreciated them. Names like Rahab, Ruth, Deborah, Mary, Priscilla and many more proved to have quite an impact on history and faith. Also, one aspect of Jesus’ ministry was to move society to appreciate and celebrate the value of women. Even the most sceptical historians have to acknowledge that Christianity is a faith that values female heroes. 

Passages to consider on the topic of women: The Book of Ruth, Proverbs 31, The Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John