“Hobbs and Shaw” is a new movie with characters taken from the “Fast and Furious” series. And with sentimental references to “family” taken from the “Fast and Furious” series. And with action, action, action.
In the new film, though, the tone is inflated. The movie isn’t a lot funnier than the way-too-serious “F&F” ones. But it gets the treatment spy stories got in the 1960s. The world’s very existence is at stake here. And everything depends on our gritty masculine government agent.
This sort of thing could, and probably should turn funny. But “Calvin and ...” Check that. “Hobbs and Shaw” is only very rarely comic. How does one shoot sober movie footage featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?
Well, he gets off the movie’s one successful joke. He is talking to a young woman who has had her shoulders, from the collarbone up, tattooed. Then she has worn a low-cut, off-the-shoulders blouse, displaying a lot of upper chest. “Nice tats,” says Johnson, playing Hobbs. And he likes the comment so well he repeats it.
And that’s it for the comedy in this two-hour and 19-minute film. At some point someone cast Kevin Hart in a very minor part, apparently so they could introduce some standard Kevin Hart “little man” jokes. But he isn’t funny, either. Nor is the guest-spot filling Helen Mirren.
The story is that a character named Brixton (Idris Elba) has become a cyborg—a human rebuilt using mechanical parts. He works for a talking room. Honest. The room convinces some people that they need to take over the world to cure its ills.
So a Russian scientist has made the room a biologic virus that will kill most everybody. But it can exist in the blood stream of a human for several days. Then it can be removed by the use of a special portable machine. If it isn’t removed by the time the ticking clock goes off, it will kill its host and then infect the human population of the planet, offing millions.
MI6, the British secret service, finds this stuff in London. For reasons that don’t make any sense, Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) injects it into herself and then runs into nonstop hiding. Hattie is the sister of the Shaw from the “Fast and Furious” films, Jason Statham.
So he’s looking for Hattie. And so is the CIA. They send their jumbo-size agent, Hobbs, to find the good-fighting Hattie. Why Sis is wearing a haircut from the Cindy Lauper age, I wasn’t sure. Maybe to make her easier to pick out in the fast-moving crowd scenes.
Chase, fight, chase, fight, chase, fight. Eventually our three heroes and the virus extracting machine make it to Samoa, Hobbs’s place of origin. His family of mechanics, armed with (among other things) historic weapons take on the upgraded Brixton and a team of baddies who want to grab Hattie, though at this point it isn’t necessarily clear what they want to do with her.
Let’s not complain too much about the chasing and fighting here. It isn’t especially inventive or interesting. In fact, besides the self-driving of the stunt cycle, we’ve seen all of the tricks here before.
But the action sequences are more fun to watch than are the character-building passages to listen to.
Hattie may feel attracted to Hobbs. But then the movie forgets to capitalize on that. Shaw and Hobbs don’t like each other. And that’s really more like a romance. Except that this old-fashioned Hollywood relationship gets forgotten, too.
Hobbs has separated himself from his island family. An explanation for this is given (it has to do with his evil father), but who would bother to learn the complexities of it? There’s a cute little girl, his daughter, and a matriarch, his mother and a stock Russian scientist.
And when the theme music (a cover of “Time in a Bottle,” as if that makes any sense) runs for the closing credits, there isn’t enough reason for viewers to feel they’ve seen a complete resolution of the central problem. What is it Calvin and Hobbs were trying to do?