‘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

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Review

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Director: Mel Gibson

Writers: Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffths, and Vince Vaughn

Synopsis: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

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

 

Directed by Mel Gibson, his first since Apocalypto in 2006, Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of a real-life hero during World War II in Desmond Doss, whose story I’ve personally never heard of, and it’s unbelievable that his story isn’t told more. The film isn’t a full look into Doss’ life, nor is it his full time in the war, but only a small part during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge. Gibson himself said that he took some liberties with some parts of the battle and didn’t including everything because he thought some audiences wouldn’t believe it, which if and when you watch the film, it hard to believe that Doss did even more than what was shown.

Hacksaw Ridge follows Desmond Doss (Garfield), a religious man who is the son of a World War I vet, Tom (Weaving), who decides to enlist into the army to be a medic and help save his fellow soldiers. However, his beliefs of not picking up a gun puts him into a headstrong battle with his military superiors and fellow soldiers, who see him as a coward, and after getting through a Court Marshall hearing, is sent into war without a weapon to defend himself with, becoming a Conscientious Objector. What follows is an incredible heroic story of what Doss was able to do and how many lives he saved during that horrific battle.

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Doss’ life is certainly one that will make you question his beliefs, which is reasonable and it’s something that Gibson doesn’t shy too much away from, especially at the time this film takes place. However, Gibson and Andrew Garfield’s performance do bring humanity and reason to Doss’ beliefs, and his convictions keeps us invest throughout the film. We almost have no choice but to root for him, especially when the army tries to punish him.

His heroism is put on full display during the war scenes. Of course, we know that Gibson can direct war battles, and this was a real event were many men lost their lives, so walking in we already knew that this was going to be brutal to watch – and it was. The constant bombs going off with bullets whizzing by makes you feel that sometimes you’re running with the men on Hacksaw Ridge. The battle sequences are brutal, but not as brutal as Gibson’s other films, especially since the film relies a bit of CGI for some scenes – you can’t go blowing people’s face off now can you?

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Despite this being a war film, the film is carried and driven by the performances. Garfield is terrific as Doss, playing him at first as the off-beat character from Virginia, so harrowing hero in the midst of death surrounding him. Teresa Palmer plays his future wife, Dorothy, who brings levity to the film, but once Doss goes to the war, she is never seen again, which is kind of a shame but makes sense. Luke Bracey’s Smitty Ryker is one of the antagonistic soldiers to Doss, but has a great scene with Doss near the middle of the film that makes you forget he was in the Point Break remake.

Vince Vaughn pops in as Sgt. Howell, and while it is a little hard to believe him as an army sergeant at first, but Vaughn plays the role well enough. Sam Worthington play Captain Glover, who leads the charge to get Doss to quit the army. Worthington has been great since taking a break from mainstream big studio films, and he continues the trend here. Hugo Weaving as Doss’ father, Tom, has a great arc in the film and even with minimal screen-time he does what he has to do. The rest of the cast do well too, but most of them have only small amounts of screen time and once we get to the battle scenes it’s a bit hard to really recognize them.

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The most important thing about this film is that it doesn’t go straight into the war battles. We really get to know Doss before and after he registers, and see who he is before he’s thrown into war. The film does introduce someone close to Doss’ life that suddenly disappears without reason, and while you can say “that’s a little thing,” when you look at the film with a wider lens, it would have been nice to see that character mentioned or seen again.

All in all, Hacksaw Ridge is a great look into a hero that I don’t think many people knew about. Andrew Garfield brings Desmond Doss to life and shows us the hardship he went through to save others during World War II. Filled with some great action, and some surprising humor, Hacksaw Ridge has me waiting to see what Mel Gibson does next.

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Hacksaw Ridge

4.5 out of 5

‘Point Break’ Review

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Director: Ericson Core

Writers: Kurt Wimmer

Cast: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Teresa Palmer, Clemens Schick, Matias Varela, Tobias Santelmann, Nikolai Kinski, Max Thieriot, Ray Winstone and Delroy Lindo

Synopsis: A young FBI agent infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists.

 

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

 

I’m sure I have posted this in the past: I don’t mind remakes/reboots/reimagining’s. It’s bound to happen people, get over it. Hollywood has been redoing stuff for years, but even I’ll agree that it is happening more than usual, and even more noticeable because of the internet. That’s one reason I don’t get upset or throw a hissing fit when a remake is announced. The other reason is that I always give movies the benefit of the doubt. I don’t mind remakes/reboots/reimagining’s if the team behind it does something that makes that movie worthwhile and makes the movie its own thing, and that I can respect. However, some of those movies don’t follow that logic, which is why most remakes suck. That can be said for Point Break.

Point Break takes most of the core story of the original 1991 Point Break in that it follows Johnny Utah – although Utah is a nickname this time around – who is a former extreme sports athlete who has left that world and is now trying to work his way up the FBI. When we meet him, he and the FBI find out that a group of thieves are using extreme sports-like qualities as their getaways, which leads Utah to believe they are indeed extreme sports athletes. This finding eventually lead him to tell FBI Instructor Hall (Lindo) that he thinks they are trying complete The Ozaki Eight, a fictional series of eight ordeals that intend to honor the forces of nature and give back to the world, of course the group’s way of giving back to the world is targeting big banks and giving the money to the poor. Hall, after some convincing, sends Utah to track them down and use his former extreme sports skills to weave his way in and take them down.

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One of the biggest difference between this and the original is that the remake is much more of a globe-trotting film with bigger stunts and bigger set-pieces. Some of which are okay, but don’t really move the story forward, they’re just there for the sake of having an extreme sports scene, like snowboarding down a dangerous mountain, or surfing a massive wave. The group of thieves, lead by the charismatic and dangerous Bodhi (Ramirez), are also much more than surfers this time around, which sort of adds, well, is supposed to add an extra layer of depth, but the group is interchangeable and none of them really standout. The only ones that really ever get significant screen time is Clemens Schick’s Roach and Mathias Varela’s Grommet, and while the actors do just fine, Bodhi is the one that gets the more meaty scenes.

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Clemens Schick’s Roach (left) and Mathias Varela’s Grommet (right)

The only real standout to the cast is Edgar Ramirez. He’s always reliable in everything he does really, and he does the best he can with what he’s given. Luke Bracey is rather blah, he has moments, but for the most part, he’s not that great of a lead. Teresa Palmer’s Samsara, the only woman in the core cast doesn’t really do too much and the brief love story feels a bit forced and doesn’t really carry any real weight to it. It’s kind of shame really because Palmer is a great actress and is wasted here. Ray Winstone pops u as Pappas, who also has his moments and alongside Ramirez, Winstone is a standout too.

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Point Break also feels a bit longer than it really is. The whole middle of the film is rather slow and nothing really happens aside from the really pointless big stunts. In fact, when Utah enters the group, they don’t steal anything! They sit around talking and bond, but the bonding has no real effect like the original did. Utah’s struggle to betray the group after he’s gotten to know them, doesn’t really exists, and whatever is there passes over fairly quick.

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What the movie also fails to do is really capitalize on what the original did. The iconic moments, like the presidents masks, which only appears once in security cameras, and the other two big moments from the original do appear, but they feel a bit forced and corny. Those moments make the remake feel shallower than it already is.

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All in all, Point Break doesn’t bring anything really new or good to the table. The cast is serviceable with the expectation of Edgar Ramirez, who is the real highlight of the film. The big stunts and bigger set-pieces do nothing for the sake of story and are just there to make the film probably feel more “extreme.” Despite my slight optimism for the film – and for remakes in general – Point Break fails for the most part on all spectrums.

 

Point Break

2.5 out of 5