Dwayne Johnson & Jason Statham turn on their charm machine

Philip Cu Unjieng - The Philippine Star
Dwayne Johnson & Jason Statham turn on their charm machine
In the movie, Luke Hobbs (played by Dwayne Johnson), a DSS Federal agent, and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), former British Special Forces-turned-assassin, join forces to secure the bioweapon from falling into the wrong hands.

Film review: The Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

MANILA, Philippines — The film should have been subtitled The Charm Machine, as its two big action stars, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, turn theirs on in a big way to successfully carry it, defying possible spin-off mediocrity and/or fatigue. Sure, this may be one version of milking a film franchise for all that it’s worth, but it’s done with so much verve and enthusiasm, all is forgiven, and I’d give this film its full ratio of popcorn fun.

You take two recurring, but supporting, characters from the latter installments of The Fast & Furious film franchise, and let them loose in their own cat-and-dog, buddy-film. Could have been a recipe for disaster, but thanks to their onscreen charisma, plus one lady action hero revelation, and the film comes home with flying colors, with some minor speed bumps along the way.

Director David Leitch was an uncredited co-director in John Wick and assumed full duties for Atomic Blonde, so we know he’ll come up with the goods in the action scenes. While some sequences are direct homages to films he must have loved and credited as influences (I see 300, Mission Impossible, the Bourne films and even Sherlock Holmes), there are some really imaginative creations of his own that should make action fans happy campers. I loved the daisy chain of pick-ups and trucks lassoing an airborne helicopter, and his using the streets of London for some crazy chase scenes.

The premise of the film is as simple as it has to get. Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) has become a rogue MI6 agent when she injects herself with a doomsday bioweapon that cyber-augmented super-villain Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) now wants to acquire for the shadowy organization that retooled his body. So Luke Hobbs (Dwayne), a DSS Federal agent, and Deckard Shaw (Jason), former British Special Forces-turned-mercenary/assassin, are asked to join forces, rescue Hattie and secure the bioweapon from falling into the wrong hands. And of course, it’s no coincidence that Hattie and Deckard share the same family name.

As in previous Fast & Furious films, there’s an important subtext of family running through the film — and if in the F&F films family meant the people who surround you, this time, it’s more literal. Hobbs is a single dad with a motley daughter, and we meet the incarcerated mother (Helen Mirren having fun, and presumably picking up a hefty paycheck) of the Shaws.
It’s in the comedy department that minor speed bumps occur. The constant sniping between Hobbs and Shaw is entertaining, but yes, it does go on and on without relief and some insults work better than others. Two precious cameos occur, and while I won’t reveal them here, one does overstay his welcome, and becomes tiring — this happens on the plane ride.

If I had to pick one distinct highlight in the film, and how the spin-off creates strong potential to become its own franchise with sequels, I would award that to Vanessa as Hattie. She is as fast and furious as the two main stars, and we look forward to the scenes where she’s involved. This may be extending the life of an illustrious film franchise, but thanks to the charms of the three, it works!

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