Deepa Gahlot
Saturday, 3 August 2019

Fast & Furious Presents: HOBBS & SHAW
Director: David Leitch
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba and others
Rating: * * *

Films in the Fast & Furious franchise are guilty pleasures — what Bollywood calls ‘full timepass’ as it tries to emulate the insanely imaginative action sequences.

With David Leitch’s Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, it seems a new franchise will spin off from the old; in this movie, frenemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Decker Shaw (Jason Statham) have to team up to give enemies a tough fight and also make a case for loving your family.

The plot, such as it is, to do with an apocalyptic bio-toxin, serves as an excuse for the dizzying action set pieces (there is a jaw-dropping aerial sequence in this one), and wicked banter, as the two bald and ripped macho heroes punch, shoot and wisecrack their way to fighting a genetically-enhanced rogue agent Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), who calls himself Black Superman.

Just so the franchise is not accused of being sexist, Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Valerie Kirby), an MI6 agent, turns up to kick ass with the guys. (Helen Mirren is the mother, so this gene pool is strong). Of course in the family stakes, Hobbs beats Shaw — he has a huge clan in Samoa, with various muscular men all set to go into battle.

Nobody who goes to watch these films expects anything but unbelievably extravagant action, and the film cheerfully delivers that; so in that sense, it is value for ticket-and-popcorn money. None of the actors would expect to win Oscars for these films, it is good enough that they have fun doing them and transmit most of it across the screen to the audience. And there are so many big name cameos, it’s like a bonus. One can’t help thinking sometimes that even when the F & F films slow down a bit, they are not as pretentious as some of the CGI-bloated superhero films that Hollywood churns out. Hobbes & Shaw remains formulaic, but it manages to surprise, amuse, and, of course, thrill.

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