The official title is “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” We’ve now entered the phase of modern cinema where popular franchises “present” other movies in hopes that they become franchises, seemingly creating an endless feedback loop of them that never cease (it also has two ampersands and could be the first movie title to ever do that, but I’m far too uninterested too actually look that up).
“Hobbs & Shaw” will be explained as “big dumb action” by many to excuse its inanity. This is one of the most overused phrases when it comes to describing action films. It’s a way to make someone feel better about the money they don’t want to admit they wasted on it. Just because a movie is an action movie doesn’t mean it must be dumb. Look what “John Wick” has done for the action genre or how the “Mission: Impossible” films get better and better. “Hobbs & Shaw” is the antithesis to these movies.
To begin at the beginning is foolish, really. The plot makes no logical sense not even if you stretch logic to the realm of “Fast & Furious” logic. It’s entirely incomprehensible — but we will at least attempt to piece together the events.
Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) is an MI-6 agent who purposefully infects herself with a deadly virus so terrorist Brixton (Idris Elba) cannot obtain it for his nefarious purposes. We are explicitly told that once infected, Hattie has 72 hours before her organs turn to mush, she explodes and the virus becomes airborne.
The following events take place in the space of 72 hours. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) travels from L.A. to London to find Hattie. Shaw (Jason Statham) is also recruited to find Hattie, and the three of them convene in London. They fight bad guys there; fly to Russia, fight bad guys there. And finally, fly to Samoa and fight bad guys there. All in the space of three days.
At one point during the climactic fight scene, an important timer is counting down from 30 minutes. Seemingly at least an hour passes, because night becomes day and all sorts of fighting and talking happens. The next time we see the timer there’s 21 minutes left. The only explanation is that “Hobbs & Shaw” exists in a dimension that treats time entirely different from how we do.
Big deal, right? It’s a dumb action movie. Just let me enjoy the action! Except the action here is so pedestrian compared to other films with a fraction of the budget this one has, it’s mind-blowing. The editing during the car chases is inexplicably bad. Every single time a new car is introduced there’s a useless half-second extreme close-up of the car’s logo. Even if the logo is inside on the dashboard. There are so many wasted shots in this film it could be trimmed by 30 minutes and the audience wouldn’t miss a thing.
There is an interesting comment here about alpha male behavior and how men generally act. It’s a theme that would hold some weight if it didn’t turn one of its best characters, Hattie, into a blushing love interest for Hobbs. Hattie kicks all kinds of butt, so of course, she still needs to fill the love interest role as well. Sigh.
Aside from a cameo from actor Ryan Reynolds, “Hobbs & Shaw” is mind-numbingly awful in the way very few movies achieve. It succeeds at being unexciting, unfunny and not the least bit compelling.