‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ Review

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano and Helen Mirren

Synopsis: Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There are multiple post-credit scenes.*

 

A spinoff movie from the Fast & Furious franchise was always going to happen, it was just a question of when. Back when Fast Five came out, rumblings began to give new addition of the franchise, Dwayne Johnson’s DSS agent Luke Hobbs one, but Universal Pictures never pulled the trigger – admittedly, Johnson became a very busy man afterwards. Fast forward to the drama behind The Fate of the Furious, Universal finally gave Hobbs his movie…and they brought along Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw along too – due to the studio liking the chemistry between the two on set.

So now we have two of the biggest action stars in Hollywood in a spinoff of one of the biggest and profitable franchises today, and how do you top that? Get the guy that directed the first John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2, David Leitch. Then make it a buddy action comedy, with some sci-fi elements, some laughable insults and, since this is still a movie in the Fast & Furious universe, family.

Hobbs & Shaw has a pretty basic setup, Deckard’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent, and her team try to retrieve a deadly virus codename “Snowflake,” but run into a huge problem in Brixton (Idris Elba), a technology-enhanced agent (read: Black Superman) for a shadow organization that want the virus for nefarious reasons. Hattie ends up injecting herself to get the virus away from Brixton. In the process, she is then labeled a traitor and has to go on the run.

We then jumped forward to seeing Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) finding out about the virus going missing, and the two eventually find out they have to work together – something neither of them want to do. However, they have to put their difference aside, somewhat, when Deckard finds out that Hattie is involved, and that the virus will kill her in three days. It becomes a race to the clock to find a way to get the virus out of Hattie, while also on the run from Brixton.

 

Hobbs & Shaw really is its own thing. There is really no mention to the main series, so you don’t necessarily have to have previous knowledge of the main series, but it would help just a tad. The main focus of the movie is to bring out Hobbs and Shaw’s backstory. Obviously on Shaw’s side, we are introduced to Kirby’s Hattie, who is more than capable of taking care of herself, and yes, Helen Mirren’s mother – named Queenie – returns for about five minutes of screen time.

As for Johnson’s Hobbs, he gets to go home, as the trailers point out. We’re introduced to the Hobbs family, which isn’t the best kind of a relationship, and Hobbs’ daughter Sam returns (played by a different actress in Eliana Sua). The dynamic of the Hobbs family adds another layer to Hobbs, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to how the potential franchise of Hobbs & Shaw goes – Johnson isn’t coming back for Fast & Furious 9 – and if they propel that dynamic in the future.

 

But of course people are going to see Hobbs & Shaw for the action, and oh boy, is there a lot of action in this. While the Fast & Furious movies do go a little over-the-top with the stunts – okay, a lot, whatever – Hobbs & Shaw continues that trend, but now with a sci-fi-ish twist with Brixton (he literally has a bike that COMES TO HIM!). The action also has a nice added touch since you got Leitch behind the camera. Is it the best action in the series? Not really, but it’s damn enjoyable to watch happen when it does.

If the action doesn’t do it for you, then maybe the great chemistry between Johnson and Statham will do it for you. It’s mostly the two throwing jabs at each other, and while some don’t land completely, others should get a genuine laugh out of you, or at least make you laugh cringe. Either way, anytime the two are on screen together, and throwing barbs, you’re in for a good time. That said, I would love to see Johnson and Statham team up again, outside the Fast & Furious franchise.

The rest of the cast have their moments. I mentioned Kirby holds her own as Hattie Shaw, and Mirren is only in it for a bit, but she clearly having fun with the role. So let’s talk about Idris Elba as Brixton. Elba is also clearly having fun playing the villain with superhuman strength and some other technological enhancements. While the whole thing is kind of, admittedly, goofy, Hobbs & Shaw knows what it is, so it fits the world we’re watching. Eiza Gonzalez pops in as Madame M, but she doesn’t really add anything despite how they introduce her, Eddie Marsan has a small role as the scientist that created the “Snowflake” virus, Lori Pelenise Tulsano plays Sefina, Hobbs’ mother who could be a scene stealer for some, and Cliff Curtis plays Jonah, who I wish had some more to do.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Hobbs & Shaw, I’ll admit the movie is just a tad bit too long for its own good. Some of it comes from the surprise cameos the movie was able to pull off, and while the cameos are cool and pretty funny, they kind of overstay their welcome and drag the scenes out.  There is also an element that the movie really should have capitalized on, which is when Hobbs and Shaw basically become wanted men, but the movie pretty much ignores all that which is kind of a shame.

All in all, Hobbs & Shaw is a lot of fun, whether you’re going for the action or for the chemistry/insult-fest between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, or even for “Black Superman” himself Idris Elba, the movie has a little something for everyone.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

3.5 out of 5

Podcast – Fast & Furious 9 Delayed, Hobbs/Shaw Spinoff On, Tyrese Drama, Pacific Rim: Uprising Trailer & More

The Movie Pit Podcast is up!

I’m a little late to post it here – obviously – but I still wanted to pass it along. So sit back and enjoy everybody. Also check out the podcast on iTunes as well (link – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-movie-pit-podcast/id1249582608?mt=2) and please subscribe and leave a review. It will really help me out.

 

‘The Fate of the Furious’ Review

Director: F. Gary Gray

Writer: Chris Morgan

Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell, Kristofer Hivju, Elsa Pataky, Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren

Synopsis: When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trails that will test them as never before.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Eight films in sixteen years, and somehow the Fast & Furious franchise is still going on and has become stronger with every entry. The film franchise that started as a street-racing film have become heist films that focus on a family of misfits we all love. It’s fair to say the franchise really found its stride with Fast Five, becoming better as the franchise went on. So it’s a bit of a bummer to say that The Fate of the Furious is a step down for the franchise that has broken all the rules of gravity and has challenged us to suspense our disbelief to new levels. Not only that, this is the first film without Paul Walker after his tragic sudden passing during projection on Furious 7.

The Fate of the Furious opens in Cuba, where Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon, and in true Fast & Furious action, Dom gets himself into a race. Afterwards, Dom encounters a mysterious woman who knows who he is and all about the crew, Cipher (Charlize Theron). She tells Dom that he’s going to work for her, which of course Dom scoffs at, but shows him something that shakes Dom. We cut to Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) who is recruited to get a team together to reacquire a dangerous device, which sets up Hobbs to recruit our team we all know; Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsay (Nathalie Emmanuel) – sans Brian and Mia. It’s there that Dom betrays the group and gets Hobbs captured and sent to a super max prison where Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is being held. What follows is the crew trying to figure out why Dom has betrayed them and is working with Cipher, and if Dom is even worth saving.

Of course, one of the biggest questions everyone will have is why has Dom betrayed his family, and thankfully long-time franchise writer Chris Morgan (since Tokyo Drift) doesn’t leave us wondering for too long. The reasoning does make sense too, it’s not some lackluster idea, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise. However, it does make you question what will happen now as the franchise moves forward. The other question is how is the film without Paul Walker’s Brian, and the answer is simple: it’s different. However, it doesn’t rely itself on always bringing up Brian either. He is brought up at one point that makes sense, but after that it’s all about the crew, as it should be.

When it comes to the cast, they all have played the characters enough times we know what to expect. Rodriguez’s Letty is the only one that hasn’t given up faith in Dom; Gibson’s Roman is the comic relief as always, although it felt his humor was heighten his time around; Ludacris’ Tej and Emmanuel’s Ramsay bring the technical aspect to everything; and Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs is still an unstoppable, quick-witted, and cheesy line delivering machine who goes insult-to-insult with Statham’s Shaw. Speaking of Johnson and Statham, these two should are incredible together. It would be disappointing if they don’t do more movies together. Kurt Russell also pops in as Mr. Nobody again playing it cool like only he knows, and brings in Scott Eastwood’s character who, isn’t really all the great and sticks out like a sore thumb. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never Eastwood in anything, or if the character just wasn’t right for him, but I wasn’t digging his character.

When it comes to Charlize Theron’s Cipher – the first female villain of the series – her character is different than you would think. She has her own way at looking at the world, and in true Fast & Furious fashion, her character has a connection to the past films which is why she goes after Dom. I wouldn’t rank her character up there with Owen or Deckard Shaw, but what she’s able to do with a computer is rather frightening.

Going off that, this leads to one of the biggest, and franchise regular absurdity set-pieces, the “zombie” car scene in New York. The scene involves Cipher hacking every car with a computer in New York City so Dom can complete one of her missions. It’s a rather impressive scene, but goes with one of my major gripes with the film: the heavy use of CGI. The scene would have probably been very dangerous to have that many cars do what they do, although they did do some of it since they released a behind-the-scenes online. But, it was the obvious use of CGI which really takes you out of the scene, and it wasn’t the only scene to do it either. I’m not opposed to the use of CGI, and it’s not like the franchise hasn’t used it before, but at least the other films hid it a little better than Fate of the Furious. Not only that, it’s not even the best scene in the film. You can make the argument that the prison riot with Hobbs and Shaw is, as they fight their way out and show off Hobbs being, well, Hobbs.

All in all, The Fate of the Furious isn’t as great as the last three films. I don’t think the franchise has run out of fumes, I think it is trying to readjust after the death of Paul Walker, and trying to find its footing again. We can’t blame the franchise either, I’m pretty sure no one thought the Fast & Furious franchise would make it to eight films, but it has. The characters that we love are there, and the action is just as crazy as you would think with cheesy one-liners to back it up. Is the franchise going to lap out after this? No, probably not.

The Fate of the Furious

3.5 out of 5

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Dir: James Wan

Writer(s): Chris Morgan

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Nathalie Emmanuel, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Jordana Brewster, and Kurt Russell

Synopsis: Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

 

It’s hard to believe that a series about street racers has become so beloved and able to change itself with every film that precedes it. It’s gone from the streets of L.A to Miami, to Tokyo, back to L.A to Rio de Janeiro, then to London and Spain, and all the way back to L.A. Needless to say, the series has gone all over the globe and has connected to fans in such a way that the filmmakers want to keep upping the ante. Furious 7 continues the tradition, but at the end of the day, this installment serves as a fitting goodbye to not only a favorite and original character, but one their actors.

 

Furious 7 starts rather unusually for a Fast & Furious movie. They usually start with the main characters and a possibly car race/chase. However, Furious 7 beings by showing us Deckard Shaw (Statham) finding out about his brothers and showing just how dangerous he is, it’s a rather great opening too. Deckard then ends up in a DSS building with Hobbs to get information on the group that took out his brother Owen in Furious 6. The two get into a major brawl, which ends up with Hobbs (Dwayne) getting seriously hurt and Deckard getting away with the information he needs.

 

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We switch over to see Brian (Walker) and how he is adjusting –somewhat– to domestic life like: living in a house, taking his son Jake to school, and not dodging bullets, which he misses according to Mia (Brewster). Dom (Diesel) visits Brian and Mia, when Dom gets a phone call from Tokyo from Deckard Shaw saying he’s going to get to know him, and sets off an explosion in the Toretto home. No one gets killed, but this leads Dom to go into revenge mode and try to figure out what the hell is going on.

 

All of this leads into Hobbs telling Dom who is responsible and Dom ends up working in a government official named Mr. Nobody (Russell) promising him he can get him Deckard, only if he can get him something the government wants. Mr. Nobody puts Dom and his crew of Brian, Letty (Rodriguez), Tej (Ludacris), and Roman (Gibson) to rescue Ramsay (Emmanuel) in a great mountain side sequence (which is heavily promoted in the ads). Ramsay created something called the “God’s Eye” I won’t get too into the details behind “God’s Eye” but let’s just say it’s the NSA’s wet dream.

 

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Everyone knows that the Fast & Furious films are known for their crazy car scenes, and like I wrote earlier, Furious 7 has a good chuck of them. Obviously the cars dropping from a plane which leads to a great mountain side road sequence, you also have the car jumping from The Sky Towers in Abu Dhabi, and the great final sequence that is a bit tone down from the past final sequence like the bank vault in Fast Five and the tarmac sequence in Furious Six, but is still great to enjoy as it rolls on. There are also some pretty descent fight scenes, including one with Rodriguez and Ronda Rousey’s body guard character.

 

New director to the series, James Wan, fit perfectly into an already established franchise taking over for Justin Lin, who directed the series since Tokyo Drift. Wan does some great stuff with the camera and certain angles that are pretty unique to the series and fit right in. Wan definitely had a hard job taking over the reins from Lin, but he holds his own with the ensemble cast.

 

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The cast itself is as great as always. One of the themes in the series is Family, and that is nothing but at the forefront here. Not only as the characters, but of course, saying goodbye to Paul Walker (I’ll get to that in a bit). Walker and Vin Diesel do their usual thing, while Ludacris and Tyrese continue to play off each other very well with their comedy chops. Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty keeps going with her arc from the previous film, although here it has more of a payoff than it did in the last film. Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs is great as always with his one-liners and overall manliness.

 

The new cast members also hold their own against the original cast. Jason Statham is a worthy villain to the team as a whole and is deadly in every way possible. Djimon Hounsou, who is left out of the promotional material for some reason, plays Jakande, a mercenary who has Ramsay hostage, and while it is nice to see Hounsou among the cast the character doesn’t really do much and they could have gotten anyone else. There is also Tony Jaa’s Kiet who gets into some fights with Brian – which being nitpicky for a second, I had to really suspend disbelief that Walker, and obviously no disrespect to him, could go toe-to-toe with Jaa in a fight. Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel’s Ramsay fits right into the cast and even has a scene essentially telling us who the members of the group are, ie: Roman being the “Joker” of the group.

 

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Finally, Kurt Russell plays government agent simply known as Mr. Nobody. Russell is a great addition to the cast and seems to be enjoying himself very well. He also has a descent amount of screen time which kind of surprised me to be honest, but it was welcomed. Also, early reports suggested that Russell’s role could lead to a bigger role in the sequel, which I can totally see.

 

There are some great surprises in the film and some revelations that really add more depth to the series and film itself. With all those revelations, Furious 7 feels like at times it is a close to the series and also open ended for another sequel (which they already sort of announced, but not really confirmed). However, Furious 7 is also a tribute and dedicated to the late Paul Walker.

 

There is a very bittersweet tribute to Walker and his character Brian at the end of the film. I won’t go into detail about it, but like I wrote, it is very bittersweet. It’s a touching and tear-jerking tribute that I’ll admit, I started to tear up watching it. Walker had completed most of the role, and going back to the family theme, Walker’s brothers Cody and Caleb came in to help out, by acting as body doubles. The crew also had help with the use of CGI, which was more obvious at the end and using used footage from earlier films. It’s really hard to tell, again until the end, where they used it, so you won’t really be distracted trying to figure out if where they used it.

 

All in all, Furious 7 brings us back to the characters and world that we have fell in love with. The action is still over-the-top at times and the cast is as great as always. While the film isn’t perfect, it feels long even though it’s literally a few minutes longer than the last film. However, at the end of the day Furious 7 is a great ride to behold and the tribute to Paul Walker at the end is beautiful.

 

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R.I.P Paul Walker

 

Furious 7

4.5 out of 5