‘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

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‘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

December Movie Releases

It’s December, ladies and gentlemen!

The year is almost over! How has your year been, because it’s been a great year for films, huh? December is also a tough month to set, because this is the big Oscar month, so a lot of films end up getting limited releases, expansion releases, and then wide releases. So if anything is off, it’s because of that. I’ll do my best to get everything where it’s suppose to go, and if not I’ll come back and update the schedule.  So let’s jump right in the films that will close out the year.

Also, Happy Whatever-It-Is-You-Celebrate!

 

2nd

Limited Release: Jackie (Biography Drama – Fox Searchlight Pictures/Why Not Productions/Wild Bunch)

Following the assassination of her husband, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman) fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children and define her husband’s historic legacy. The film has gotten a lot of love at the film festival circuit, and is getting a lot of Oscar buzz. It probably helped that this film has been in the works for a long time too. Jackie also stars Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, John Hurt, Billy Crudip, Max Casella, Richard E. Grant, and Caspar Phillipson.

jackie

 

Limited Release: La La Land (Drama Comedy Musical)

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone reunite for La La Land which follows a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. The film is getting a ton of great reviews from the film festival circuit so this one is one you should keep your eye out for. Also the trailer really gives off the vibe that the film will be a nice tribute to films of old. The film also stars Finn Wittrock, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend, Jason Fuchs, Hemky Madera, and J.K. Simmons.

la_la_land_ver3

 

Incarnate (Horror Thriller – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/WWE Studios/IM Global/High Top Releasing/Deep Underground Films)

A scientist with the ability to enter the subconscious minds of the possessed must save a young boy from the grips of a demon with powers never seen before, while facing the horrors of his past. The film stars Aaron Eckhart, Carice van Houten, David Mazouz, Emjay Anthony, Matt Nable, and Catalina Sandino Moreno.

incarnate

 

 

9th

Expanded/Wide Release: Nocturnal Animals

Expanded Release: La La Land

Expanded Release: Jackie

 

 

Office Christmas Party (Comedy – Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures/Bluegrass Films)

When his uptight CEO sister (Jennifer Aniston) threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager thrown an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day, but the party gets way out of hand. The film also stars T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, Rob Corddry, Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee, Randall Park, Matt Walsh and Courtney B. Vance.

office_christmas_party

 

16th

Limited Release: The Founder (Biography Drama)

Michael Keaton stars in this film that tells the story of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc. I don’t think I’ve ever actually thought about the story of McDonald’s and since I’ve seen the trailer, it’s peaked my interest and I’m sure to many others as well. The rest of the cast includes Laura Dern, Patrick Wilson, Linda Cardellini, Nick Offerman, B.J. Novak, and John Carroll Lynch.

 

 

Collateral Beauty (Drama – New Line Cinema/Village Roadshow Pictures/Overbrook Entertainment/Anonymous Content/Likely Star/PalmStar Media)

An advertising executive encounters three mysterious figures who encourage him to move on from the past. The film looks like it’s going to be a powerhouse with the cast, but the idea does seem odd, and one that you can probably figure out from the trailers. Hopefully the execution works. Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton, Naomie Harris, Michael Pena, and Helen Mirren star.

collateral_beauty_ver2

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Sci-Fi Adventure –Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm)

Gareth Edwards directs the first spinoff/standalone film of the new set of Star Wars films, which actually takes us back in time as it follows Rebels on a mission to steal plans for the Death Star. Listen, it’s Star Wars, people are going to go watch it. However, the film’s last two trailers were freaking awesome, of course the film however, will have some closer eyes as the “dirty” word in Hollywood has hit the film: reshoots. Nonetheless, the film looks great and more importantly it looks different. The film stars Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Jonathan Aris, and Forest Whittaker.

rogue_one_a_star_wars_story_ver5

 

21st

Sing (Animation – Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment)

A koala named Buster (Matthew McConaughey) recruits his best friend to help him drum up business for his theater by hosting a singing competition. I don’t know if I’m over talking animal animated film this year, but I’m not getting behind the Sing train. The voice cast also includes Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, John C. Reilly, Seth MacFarlane, Taron Egerton, Nick Offerman, Peter Serafinowicz,  and Jennifer Saunders.

sing

 

Patriots Day (Lionsgate/CBS Films/Closest to the Hole Productions)

Directed by Peter Berg, the film is an account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’s (played by John Goodman) actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it. Berg has already made a splash this year with Deepwater Horizon with Mark Wahlberg, so I can only think that this will be either as good or just as good. Patriots Day also stars J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon, Melissa Benoist, Michelle Monaghan, Alex Wolff, and Rachel Brosnahan.

patriots_day

 

Passengers (Sci-Fi Adventure – Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/LStar Capital/Original Film/Start Motion Pictures/Company Films)

A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) are awakened 90 years early. Two of the most liked and extremely talented actors in Hollywood are getting together for a film, and one that looks not too bad, I think we looking at a big hit here, don’t you think? Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, and Andy Garcia also star.

passengers

 

Assassin’s Creed (Action – 20th Century Fox)

Based on the popular video game franchise, Michael Fassbender stars as Callum Lynch, who with the help of revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, The Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day. Justin Kurzel, who directed the well-received and great film Macbeth, directs and reunites not only with Fassbender but Marion Cotillard as well. The film also stars Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Ariane Labed, Mathias Varela, Brian Gleeson, and Michael Kenneth Williams.

assassins_creed_ver2

 

 

23rd

Limited Release: A Monster Calls (Fantasy Drama – Focus Features/Participant Media/River Road Entertainment/Apaches Entertainment/La Trini)

Based on a script and book by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls follows a boy as he seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mom terminal illness. The film stars Liam Neeson as The Monster, Felicity Jones as the Mother, Sigourney Weaver as the Grandmother, Toby Kebbell as Dad, and Lewis MacDougall as the boy and Lily-Rose Aslandogdu as Lily. The film looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see how it does. The limited release is due to Focus Features trying to get the film an Oscar run. The film will come out early next year.

monster_calls_ver2

 

Limited Release: Silence (Drama)

Directed by Martin Scorsese and based off the novel by Shusaku Endo, the film is set in the seventeenth century, where we follow two Jesuit priests that face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Christianity. The film has been looking for a release date and what better date to come out in than in December around Oscar season right? The film stars Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Shin’ya Tsukamoto and Tadanobu Asano.

silence

 

Why Him? (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Red Hour Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

A dad (Bryan Cranston) forms a bitter rivalry with his daughter’s young rich boyfriend (James Franco). The film looks decently funny, at least we can hope, and seeing Cranston on the big screen is always nice – even if it’s a film like this. The film stars Zoey Deutch, and Megan Mullally.

why_him

 

25th

Limited Release: 20th Century Women (Comedy Drama)

The story of three women who explore love and freedom in Southern California during the late 1970s. The film stars Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Alia Shawkat, Laura Wiggins, and Billy Crudup.

 

Limited Release: Paterson (Drama Comedy) 

Set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey, this is a tale about a bus driver and poet, who also happens to be named Paterson (Adam Driver). I saw the trailer for the first time recently, and it looks like a great little indie film that will showcase Adam Driver.

 

Limited Release: Hidden Figures (Drama)

Based on a true story, a team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical date needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kristen Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, and Kevin Costner.

hidden_figures

 

Limited Release: Live By Night

Based off the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, Ben Affleck writes, directs and stars in this great looking film that is set during the Prohibition and follows Joe Coughlin, the son of a prominent Boston police captain, as he rises through the ranks of the criminal underworld and the trouble he falls into along the way. Besides the film looking great, it has a great cast in Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Sullivan, Anthony Michael Hall, Titus Welliver, Max Casella, Chris Messina, and Chris Cooper.

live_by_night

 

Fences (Drama – Paramount Pictures/Scott Rudin Productions/Bron Studios/MACRO)

Based on the play by August Wilson, and directed by Denzel Washington, Fences follows an African American father who struggles with race relations in the United States while trying to raise his family in the 1950s and coming to terms with the events of his life. The film stars Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby and Stephen Henderson.

fences

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

New Podcast: Mr. Sinister will be in Wolverine 3, Stan Lee Becomes Action Hero & More

The Movie Pit Podcast is live!

I talk about some of the biggest news items of the week, the trailer released and this week’s limited and wide releases. Also, go like my Facebook page to get a preview of what we’ll talk about on the podcast, and to keep up with all the biggest news items of the week. https://www.facebook.com/MoviePit/

 

 

 

New Podcast: Helen Mirren Joins Fast 8, Donald Glover Joins Spider-Man: Homecoming & Much More

Hello everybody!
I  didn’t do a podcast last week, as something came up, but I’m back this week with a more relaxed news podcast. But there is still some great news items this week.

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‘Red 2’ Review

red_two_ver10

Dir: Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest)

Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Neal McDonough, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Anthony Hopkins

Synopsis: Retired C.I.A. agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always.*

 

After the success of RED back in 2010, the graphic novel adaptation has come back with a sequel that finds retired black ops agent Frank Moses (Willis) reuniting with his old partner Marvin Boggs (Malkovich) after a threat from their past resurfaces in the form of a Cold War-era nuclear weapon “Nightshade.” Now everyone thinks Frank and Marvin know where this device is located and it takes them on the run to not only clear their names but also save the world.

MI6 hires Frank and Marvin’s former sharpshooter friend Victoria (Mirren) to kill them. Also on their tail is U.S. official Horton (McDonough) and even he sends master assassin Han (Lee) after them. Han, as it turns out, has some unfinished business of his own with Frank.

Frank, Marvin, and Frank’s girlfriend Sarah (Parker), make their way around the globe to places like London, Paris and even Moscow to locate Nightshade. Along the way, they encounter Katja (Zeta-Jones), Frank’s former lover, and scientific genius Edward Bailey (Hopkins) who might be the key to helping them stop Nightshade.

The first movie did a great job of balancing humor and action, but it could have also been the chemistry between all the actors. This movie has the same balancing but it doesn’t have the same charm from part one which is probably one of the only letdowns (if that’s the word you want to use). However that doesn’t mean the humor isn’t funny. Malkovich and Mirren have their fair share of funny moments. Parker’s ever-wanting adventure character Sarah has more to do this time around. She sees the side of Willis’ Frank that she didn’t really see in part one and is dealing with Frank’s overprotective nature.

For the new additions; Zeta-Jones looks like she had fun with the role with an almost femme fatale-like vibe. Hopkins seemed like he was just phoning it in and doesn’t even show up until the third act. McDonough is passable as his character considering he’s use to playing that type of persona. The stand out is Byung Hun Lee, who despite coming in and out of the movie once he’s introduced is one of the coolest characters. His fights are great and he has this charisma/confidence in his non-fight scenes.

The action sequences, while just a bit generic they, are still pretty fun to watch. But one of the things I know will get to people is the bloodless kills. A majority, and by that I mean 98% of the kills, have no blood which I’m okay with. I don’t need blood in violence to justify it viewable.

All in all, Red 2 is just about as fun as part one and will have moments that people will like after they leave the theater.
Red 2

3.5 out of 5