MOVIE BUFF-ET: Chemistry, humor lift ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ above action-movie norm


Take one part James Bond and one part Mission Impossible, whisk in a pinch of the Avengers and add a dash of the A-Team, and you have a big, dumb summer movie by the name of “Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.”

At first glance that recipe might sound a bit overindulgent, but the concoction starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw goes down as smooth and sweet as your favorite flavor of milk shake on a lazy summer day.

If you think too long about the circumstances of the movie, you might get brain freeze, but if you just go along with the experience, you’re bound to have a ton of fun with this light and airy thrill ride that checks off the boxes for humor, explosions, heart and mayhem.

Spinning out of the outrageous Fast and Furious franchise, Johnson’s Hobbs is a single father who also happens to be one of the most daring special agent’s in the United States. Statham’s Shaw is a former British special agent who now operates as a mercenary. The two hate each other, but have worked together quite effectively despite animosity as detailed in other movies in the Fast and Furious franchise.

They are drawn back together when Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), a MI6 agent herself, is framed for stealing a doomsday virus “that melts people on the inside” by former MI6 agent Briston Lore (Idris Elba). Lore, who has a checkered history with Shaw, is a cyborg warrior with so many super-human abilities that he calls himself “black Superman,” while roughing up Hobbs and Shaw who are forced to work together to either apprehend/save Hattie.

The tone of the movie isn’t quite as cheeky as say a Roger Moore James Bond film, but it’s not as pseudo-serious as Tom Cruise Mission Impossible flick. Much of the movie is played quite well for laughs as Johnson’s humor and charisma rubs off Statham’s cool sarcasm in an irresistible way. It is an organic humor, though, that totally fits the characters and seems remarkably unforced.

Neither star is ever going to win an Oscar, but they do what they do very well, and they know how to play to each other’s strengths. I doubt this will be the last time we see them in a film together.

Elba classes up and elevates every film in which he appears, and it’s not different here as he trades punches, kicks, and headbutts with his heroic co-stars from England to Samoa and everywhere between.

However, it’s the willowy Kirby who delivers with aplomb, fighting with and against Johnson and Statham during the course of the high-intensity film. whether it’s in close combat, exhilarating car chases, stealthy shenanigans, or explosive helicopter crashes, Kirby convincingly matches or exceeds the guys at every turn. It’s no wonder that she is rumored to be on a shortlist of actresses being considered for the Catwoman role in the next Batman film.

The first act of the film is the strongest action I’ve seen on screen since last year’s summer “Mission Impossible: Fallout.” The film doesn’t maintain that level of intensity for its entirety, but it has humor that franchise would be ill-equipped to try.

While the film offers no real twists or turns and is fairly basic in terms of high-concept thrillers, director David Leitch deserves praise for orchestrating a very funny and exhilarating action film that pushes the all the right buttons. Making a solid action film might not be high art, but it isn’t exactly easy, either.

The movie also features two very funny cameo appearances from two of the popular Hollywood comedic/action stars that had my screening rolling with laughter. Mentioning the two performers’ names would ruin the surprise.

I had a ton of fun with the movie, but I cut my teeth on similar action flicks in the 1980s. “Hobbs & Shaw” isn’t a profound movie, but it certainly is a fun one.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 16 min.
Grade: B

Classic Corner – Julius Caesar

Turner Classic Movies’ “Summer Under the Stars” annual celebration runs throughout August with one star taking center stage each day of the month on the.

Marlon Brando is Saturday’s star of the day with 11 of his best films playing, beginning with director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s adaption of “Julius Caesar” at 5 a.m. CT.

Brando plays the role of Mark Antony, and while he had won a great degree of notoriety and popularity for starring roles in “A Streetcar Named Desire” from 1951, which plays at 4:45 p.m. CT Saturday and “The Wild One” from 1953, which plays a 9 p.m., he was known more for his physical presence rather than his acting ability at the time.

However, that all changed with his performance as one of the play’s key characters who helped bring down the conspirators who assassinated Caesar. Brando gave not only formidable but also a masterful performance in the 1953 film that began to build his reputation as one of the screen’s best actors.

Brando consulted with co-star Sir John Gielgud for acting tips on playing the part. Gielgud played the conniving Cassius in the film, but he made his name on the London stage playing Mark Antony in the 1930s at the Old Vic Theatre.

Brando reportedly made the most of those tips, surprising his co-stars and director. James Mason, who played Brutus, reportedly was quite concerned about Brando upstaging him, and requested his part being played up and Brando’s down.

Brando nearly walked away from the part because of the strife with Mason, but Mankiewicz somehow coaxed the two temperamental stars to get over their differences for the sake of the film, which is generally considered the best film adaption’s of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.

New In Local Movie Theaters

  • Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw(R) (PG-13) 2 hr. 16 min. (watch trailer)
  • Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Rogers Towne, Bentonville Skylight