You could call me a “ride or die” fan of the extensive “Fast & Furious” franchise, movies that are packed with so much goofy fun that they always manage bring a smile to my face. The 18 year beloved legacy built by all the previous films has been swiftly wiped away with the disappointing “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw,” the first spin-off in the series. This movie is slow, boring, ridiculous in all the wrong ways, and just isn’t any good.
Surprisingly heavy on plot, the film takes American lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and teams him up with his rival Shaw (Jason Statham), a former British military elite operative. The two have been rivals since 2015’s “Furious 7,” where they traded blows (and smack talk) like true professionals. The unlikely pair are recruited to take down cyber-genetically enhanced Brixton (Idris Elba), a Terminator-style super soldier who has gained control of a dangerous biological weapon, and save MI6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby).
This isn’t innovative stuff, nor did anyone expect it to be. But the film is flimsy with no edge-of-your-seat excitement. The majority of the film is talky and dull, with some half-assed hand-to-hand combat thrown in to fill in the blanks. There’s one decent action scene that takes place in Samoa, but it isn’t until the end. You’re forced to sit through a really dreadful hour before anything relevant (or fun) happens.
The reason the “F&F” films work so well just so happens to be the reason “Hobbs and Shaw” doesn’t. The main problem is that both Hobbs and Shaw aren’t very good characters, and they certainly aren’t interesting enough to carry their own film. In the previous movies on which this is based, my eyes would start to glaze over whenever there was another fistfight between the two muscle men. I’d much rather watch Letty, Dom, Roman, and the crew race behind the wheel of the hottest new supercharged car. I have very little emotional connection to Hobbs and Shaw because they are paper-thin characters.
Even worse are the many “F&F” themes that are paraded out in a desperate attempt to appease fans. There’s a ridiculous, unnecessary focus on Hobbs and his estranged family that reeks of insincerity. It feels phony and doesn’t come from genuine heartfelt place.
The dialogue is so bad and the writing is so weak (not that anyone demands Shakespeare from action movies like this), that it sinks to the lowest of the low. How bad, you ask? At one point, Lore bellows “Genocide, schmenocide!” like it’s supposed to become the catchphrase of the summer. There are some painfully unfunny and forced cameos, too, and the supporting cast are as stiff as new leather shoes.
I love big, dumb fun as much as anyone, but you need all three to make a successful mindless movie. “Hobbs and Shaw” is lacking the most crucial part of that phrase: fun.