“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (M) *** and a half
NO, I haven’t abandoned my distaste for movies based on inter-galactic graphic novel characters and situations. But I enjoy a good laugh. The ninth contemporary action offering in the Fast & Furious franchise came very close to making me laugh, if not at least to smile.
Writer Chris Morgan has a commendable talent for treating the ridiculous seriously. Stunt-man-turned-director David Leitch put that talent to good use. Dwayne Johnson as American diplomatic security service agent Luke Hobbs and his English anti-buddy Jason Statham as former British military man Deckard Shaw head the cast. English actress Vanessa Kirby plays Shaw’s brilliant fearless rogue MI6 agent daughter Hattie. And splendid London-born black actor Idris Elba plays the cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist arch-villain Brixton.
The drama centres on possession of a vial containing the only known supply of a rapid-acting virus that spreads faster than wildfire and has the debilitating effect of liquefying the internal organs of any human whom it attacks. Brixton’s task is to spread it about. Hattie has made contact with it and is hoping to thwart Brixton and destroy it while it incubates.
Those elements under-pin 140-minutes of vigorous action, widespread destruction and stunts crazy enough to satisfy any level of escapist yearnings. The word-play may be a tad juvenile but it’s smart and incongruous enough to leaven the violent mixture. The climax takes place among Hobbs’ family in Samoa (played by Hawaii’s 8th-largest island). For sheer imaginative absurdity and mindless, expensive-looking fun (mostly created by several huge computer graphics teams) the film is hard to beat.
Production is currently under way on the final, 10th, film in the franchise, with Charlize Theron playing the villain. I can hardly wait.
At all cinemas