Off the rails

“It takes sacrifice to get this strong. We gave up junk food, free time and our hair.”

“It takes sacrifice to get this strong. We gave up junk food, free time and our hair.”

While the poster for Hobbs & Shaw declares it is presented by Fast & Furious, it has very little in common with that franchise other than the participation of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprising their characters from the Furious films.

In other words … rejoice! … the leaden, dreary Vin Diesel is nowhere to be seen in this movie! Let’s have some real fun!

Hobbs & Shaw is a bizarre hybrid of spy thrillers, action pics and science fiction. While Fast & Furious movies are certainly outlandish, they remain somewhat grounded in reality, except for my personal favorite sequence of a car jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper. This movie goes totally off the rails of realism.

It’s too damn long, but when it works, it works well. It also functions as a comedy in that Johnson and Statham have great timing and work really well together. In fact, I’m hoping they jettison the Fast & Furious car chase with the mushed-mouth guy movies altogether and keep themselves sequestered in this corner of the franchise.

Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Statham) find themselves protecting Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby of Mission: Impossible – Fallout), 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 been turned into some sort of bionic badass dubbed, by himself, “Black Superman.” This is one of those places where the film goes totally batty in a fun way.

The movie also goes a little crazy when it comes to the sibling relationship of Shaw and Hattie, who we see performing evil schemes like “the Keith Moon” in flashbacks to their youth. Problem here is that Statham is 20-something years older than Kirby, yet their characters are virtually the same age in the flashbacks. So the movie defies reality in more ways than one.

And you won’t really care, because director David Leitch, who gave us the first John Wick, knows his way around an action scene, and edits his films in a way where the laughs come constantly. While it’s expected that Johnson and Statham will kick ass in action scenes in a movie such as this, which they do, it’s Kirby who steals the show as action hero of this institution. She is, simply put, a total badass.

The film has enough star power with Johnson and Statham, but Leitch has some nice surprises for you with uncredited cameos. I won’t give them away here, but they blindsided me and enhanced the “let’s just go nuts” essence of the movie. The people holding down the uncredited cameos have extensive time, and they are very funny.

Elba makes for a good bad guy, and he has a super smart motorcycle that would make Bruce Wayne jealous. Helen Mirren reappears for a scene or two as Shaw’s incarcerated mom, and she’s always good to have around.

Now, I will say again, this film is way too long at over two hours. 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 lost me a bit. This movie would’ve been just right between 90-105 minutes. It wears out its welcome a bit.

It’s still a blast for the majority of the running time, though, and definitely calls for more stories about Hobbs and Shaw. With Johnson and Statham on the scene, it’s time to send Diesel packing. Hobbs and Shaw movies from here on out in the Fast & Furious universe, please. And give Kirby her own franchise. She deserves to be center stage.