Furious and funny

Action-franchise spins off into gratifying direction

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby. Directed by David Leitch. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas. Rated PG-13.
Rated 3.0

While the poster for Hobbs & Shaw announces that it’s presented by Fast & Furious, it is actually a spinoff from the series. In other words, rejoice! The leaden, dreary Vin Diesel is nowhere to be seen in this movie. Now we can have some real fun!

Hobbs & Shaw is a bizarre hybrid of spy thriller, action flick, screwball comedy and science fiction. While previous Fast & Furious movies certainly have been outlandish, they’ve mostly remained grounded in reality (save for the occasional skyscraper-to-skyscraper car jump). This movie goes totally off the rails of realism.

Here, Furious franchise regulars Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) are tasked with protecting the latter’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), after she injects herself with something that will have worldwide consequences if she’s captured. The main antagonist is Brixton (Idris Elba), a former Shaw ally who has turned into some sort of bionic badass dubbed, by himself, “Black Superman.” This is one place where the film goes totally batty—in a fun way. Elba makes for a good bad guy, and he has a super-smart motorcycle that would make Bruce Wayne jealous.

The movie also goes a little crazy when it comes to the sibling relationship of Shaw and Hattie, who we see perform evil schemes like “the Keith Moon” in flashbacks to their youth.

Stuntman-turned-director David Leitch, who gave us the first John Wick and Deadpool 2, knows his way around an action scene, and his edits create constant action and laughs—thanks in large part to Johnson and Statham’s great timing and onscreen chemistry. And while it’s expected that the tough-guy leads will kick ass in movies such as this, it’s Kirby who steals the show as the action hero of this installment. She is a total badass.

Leitch also has some nice surprises with a few uncredited cameos. I won’t give any away, but I was blindsided, and the extensive and funny performances enhanced the film’s outlandishness.

On the down side, at more than two hours, the film is way too long. There’s a scene near the end involving a chase around some nuclear reactors that has all the makings of a climax. Then, the film takes off to Hobbs’ native Samoa for an extended ending that wears out its welcome after a bit.

It’s still a blast for the majority of the running time, and definitely calls for more Hobbs and Shaw adventures. It would be great if the franchise left the mushed-mouth dudeness out of movies altogether and stuck with this formula, and maybe even gave Kirby her own spinoff. She deserves to be center stage.