The Rock is quoting Nietzsche, Dame Helen Mirren is in lockup for larceny and Idris Elba becomes the Terminator — while dismissing criticism of his evil plot against humanity with a blithe “Genocide, schmenocide.”
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw” is exactly as plausible as I hoped it would be. Given how entertainingly its nonsensical pieces are assembled, this movie must be considered one of the summer’s biggest, goofiest surprises.
“Hobbs & Shaw” is a spin-off of the “Fast & Furious” galaxy, which explains the awkward title. There’s still a chunk of daredevil driving (culminating in a series of connected cars dangling from a helicopter — you know, the usual), but this time our focus is on a case that teams up two ongoing characters from the “F&F” franchise to stop a deadly virus.
Hobbs is played by Dwayne Johnson; Shaw is Jason Statham. Both men are famed for their lethal skills and their baldness, but they don’t like each other very much.
This is a basic formula for action movies and screwball comedies alike, and “Hobbs & Shaw” has a little of both. The constant bickering is actually funny, as is the thought that these two guys would be so petty they’d be trading insults even when the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.
Adding considerable kick is Shaw’s estranged sister Hattie, played by Vanessa Kirby. She, inevitably, is an incredibly proficient special-ops agent herself, capable of outsmarting the brawnier men.
Idris Elba plays a self-described “black Superman” called Brixton, who’s been implanted with a steel spine and bionic sight — when we see things from his perspective, we see the same kind of computer-generated read-out that Schwarzenegger has in the “Terminator” movies. Brixton seeks to destroy humanity for similar reasons Thanos had in “Avengers: Endgame”: He wants to improve the planet.
Hattie has absorbed the capsules into her body (there’s a lot of tech you have to take on faith in this movie) and she has three days before they dissolve and let loose the virus. For you screenwriting students, that’s called a ticking clock, and it gives us a tidy timeframe to work with.
The story ends in Samoa, where Hobbs’ family lives. This makes as much sense as anything else, and the scenery is nice.
Logic has no place here. This is a film of stunts and devices and motorcycles that drive themselves. In one sequence, Hobbs leaps down the side of a skyscraper in order to catch Brixton as he rappels down (Shaw is taking an elevator), so a fight basically takes place in freefall over dozens of stories.
It’s ridiculous. And so help me, I dug it.
Director David Leitch also did “Deadpool 2,” and this movie aims for the same kind of wise-cracking, violent style. But it adds Dwayne Johnson’s hearty, cheesy cheerfulness to the mix, which becomes extremely difficult to resist.
Vanessa Kirby, who lit things up in “Mission Impossible: Fallout” (she was also Princess Margaret in “The Crown”), will presumably stick around for more sequels. This is a very good thing. Helen Mirren (Shaw’s jailbird mother) is as fast and furious as anybody.
Throw in a pair of fun extended-cameo performances (too good to spoil), and “Hobbs & Shaw” pretty much ticks every action-movie-buddy-comedy box. While hanging from a helicopter. And falling down a skyscraper. Like you do.
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (3 stars)
Two key players from the “F&F” franchise branch out to save the world from a deadly virus: Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, doing battle with arch-villain Idris Elba and each other. It’s ridiculous, but the bickering dialogue and over-the-top stunts make for an entertaining action-comedy, and Vanessa Kirby adds value as Statham’s special-ops sister.
Rating: PG-13, for violence, language
Rating: PG-13, for violence, language
Opening Friday: Alderwood, Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Meridian, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Seattle 10, Thornton Place, Woodinviltle, Blue Fox Drive-in, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor Plaza