David Leitch directs Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Vanessa Kirby in this buddy action spin-off where the hulking international cop and spy turned hardnut criss-cross the globe chasing after a technology that might kill humanity.
As I type right now, helicopters are thundering around my tenement flat, filming stunts for F&F9. Edinburgh, infamous for its illegal street race scene, is home to the next of these dumbly OTT crowd pleasers. In theory, a The Rock / The Stath side mission should be the best of the series given the charisma, chemistry and action cache of the headliners. And at its intermittent best Hobbs & Shaw feels like the Arnie V Sly crossover that should have happened around 1992. Did happen in this pubescent’s imagination on a daily basis.
It is bombastic and full of PG-13 ‘tude. Yet also a bit stingy. The epic and daft set pieces feel a little too thriftily spaced apart. The scenes where Dwayne and Jase banter go on aimlessly for too long, without covering new ground. Often they are interrupted or subservient to some big name cameos (both from stars I find grating rather than gratifying – but I realise I’m in the minority, they are both very popular and coups for this production.) There’s no line as memorable as “I’m gonna beat you like a cherokee drum”: the juicy fruit of their previous face off.
The best moment is when Hobbs fights Shaw’s spry sister (Kirby – notably standing out in this kinda of summer ramtam again). At one point the hero lifts the speedy little dynamo up like Mac does to Sweet Dee in a recent Always Sunny. They blow up entire industrial complexes and race down the windows of a skyscraper yet the most memorable individual frame was already done better here…
“It made me feel teeny tiny. Like Thumbelina.” Sweet Dee is happy. The Gang would like this too. It is totally Thunder Gun Express. So it is hard to be disappointed by something only fictional characters would have high expectations for.