It has been something of a disappointing summer, hasn’t it? Unless, of course, you work for Disney who, for better or worse, have cleaned up in 2019 and ruled the roost at the box office. Godzilla, X-Men and Men In Black have all fallen foul of viewership changes, be it the the ever-growing cost of going to the cinema or franchise fatigue, and as such have failed to top even their most modest of expectations. So, who are you going to call?
Well, whilst we have to wait another year for the Ghostbusters – though whether the new film will be good/successful is another discussion, we only mention it here to follow our joke through – it’s up to Hobbs & Shaw, and by extension Fast & Furious, to shake things up and bring some much needed variety. And, oh boy, do they do just that.
It was such a simple idea, really: take all of the best elements of the F&F juggernaut franchise (itself now standing at a combined B.O. total of over $5 billion), sprinkle in some Johnson, Statham and Elba, a flutter Kirby and Mirren, and a soupçon of director David Leitch, and what do you have? Rather an exciting new entrée to indulge into with all your might, for Hobbs & Shaw is the action/comedy/thriller we have been screaming out for. It’s no John Wick 3, mind you, but it is its own beast, and for that we should be truly grateful.
Leitch, fresh off his more expansive and noisy stint behind the camera of Deadpool 2, brings all his usual gusto to proceedings here: the film’s a whip-crack, electric, no-holds barred barrage of set-pieces, one-liners and fisticuffs that whilst enhanced with some CGI trickery, feel like old school, realistic action. The fights are raw, the chases exciting, the camaraderie spiky and pithy. There’s simply no stopping Hobbs & Shaw once it begins, and thanks to the endless energy and chutzpah of Johnson, Statham and Elba, it’s an absolute blast.
The film’s MVP, however, is the magnificent Vanessa Kirby who is quite simply spectacular. Her small role as the White Widow in last year’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout was only a taster for what’s in-store from her here, but don’t think for one second she’s a one-trick pony for Hattie has more complexity and intrigue than many female characters that have gone before – both here and elsewhere – and feels like an extension of Charlize Theron’s ferocious yet vulnerable Atomic Blonde that, if done right, will continue to flourish.
In a year when, aside from Avengers avenging and cartoons becoming real-life boys and girls (and lions), it could be argued that all we needed as dessert was a big, silly, fun, wild ride and in Hobbs & Shaw we have just such a delight. It’s as ridiculous and OTT as its franchise predecessors, with the story as thin as they come, but with this group it all works brilliantly – and, quite frankly, we couldn’t be happier with that.