By DAVID LEE ZAMORA
Special to the PARADE
Have you ever wondered: if the Fast & Furious series didn’t take itself so serious, it would be a lot better. Let me tell ‘ya, it’s kind of worse.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a spinoff/retelling of the first Fast & The Furious film (The Fast and The Furious), with a lot more action and comedy.Hobbs & Shaw hits a lot of the same beats of the first film: lawman gets stuck with criminal and his family; law man forms a bond with the criminal’s sister, making the former adversaries friends, then the lawman learns the importance of family, or something.
Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is an all-American, action hero, forced to work with a rival to save the world. Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is a suave, European, career criminal. Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) is Deckard’s sister, who finds herself in a life-threatening situation. Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) is a robotically-enhanced human who plans on releasing a virus to kill off the “weak” and enhance the rest of the human race.
The film feels like a Fast & Furious film, for sure, but the series is going in a new direction. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of fast, cool cars flying around, doing awesome tricks and stunts, and over-the-top action that the Fast & Furious fandom have come to love. But this film has an entirely new plot, and introduces a new, mysterious villain syndicate that will be challenging our protagonists through the upcoming films. The action is extremely well done, with fast-paced chase scenes and bombastic explosions that makes it on-par with any Michael Bay film. The fight scenes are well-choreographed, showing the difference between Hobbs’ and Shaw’s style of action. The small cameos throughout the film, like Kevin Hart, playing an air marshal who wants to be a member of the Hobbs & Shaw team, and Ryan Reynolds, playing Hobbs’ former partner, claiming to be Hobbs’ best friend. Yes, they’re small cameos, but it’s possible they will join the new family that the Fast & Furious franchise is setting up.
Now, unfortunately, it’s time to cover the bad things about this film. The acting is subpar: it fails to make the viewer feel anything for our heroes. The film constantly forces a love interest between Hobbs and Hattie. The film literally tells you, three times, how they like each other, without ever showing it, and how Hobbs should ask her out. The lack of chemistry between these two is amazingly bad, and this forced-love-interest scenario is not surprising, because it’s happened in other films in the franchise. A good example is Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) characters being in a relationship throughout the entire franchise, but not having on-screen chemistry. Some romance is shown, but it seems forced. Idres does a horrible acting job: As a villain, he fails to be threatening, even though he’s easily capable of defeating the protagonist. Even with his super strength and robotic eyes that can slow down time, the film doesn’t show this much. For most of the movie, he comes off as lighthearted and fun, rather than scary and powerful.
All this is nothing compared to the worst part of the film: its writing. Before you say, “But David, it’s a dumb action movie made for kids, why care for the writing?” Just because the film is made for young adults doesn’t mean it should be written for the lowest common denominator. We’re adults, we shouldn’t have a film walk us through everything that’s happening, by way of the characters’ dialogue. Let us watch and think for ourselves, we’re not brain dead.
An example of this is at the end of the film, *spoiler alert* where our two protagonists fight Brixton, and saying out loud that if they fight him together they can hurt him and win. Why tell us that? Who wouldn’t be able to understand that’s the reason that they’re there? I’m just dumbfounded. If you’re interested in good action and love turning off your mind, then this is your movie. But if you hate being treated like a child, don’t see it. Horrible writing in movies should never be supported, no matter how fun the franchise is, or the great names behind the film are.