Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (PG13)

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby

Directed by David Leitch

There’s a saying in Hollywood: if an action movie opens in August, it’s usually a bad omen of things to come. And Hobbs & Shaw is an August flick, so please approach with caution. 

Let’s be clear, I like Dwayne Johnson. I like Jason Statham. I like the idea of these chrome-domed alphas sharing the same airspace in a movie. They were great as nemeses in Fast & Furious 7.

Alas, they aren’t that great in this bloated spin-off where The Rock and The Stath, reprising their roles of Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs and ex-British black ops assassin Deckard Shaw, respectively, play mismatched buddies.

The plot: Hobbs and Shaw, with a little help from Shaw’s sister and rogue M16 agent Hattie (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby), have stop Idris Elba’s bionic super-soldier Brixton (“I’m black superman!”) from getting his hands on a “programmable virus”.

Oh, it gets better. Turns out Brixton, who has a shape-shifting motorbike straight out of a Terminator movie, is only the Darth Vader of the operation; he answers to a shadowy group straight out of a James Bond movie called Etheon.  

Wait, doesn’t Shaw have a brother, Owen (Luke Evans), the chief baddie in F&F 6? For some reason, he’s conveniently left out of the picture. The producers are probably saving him for a future instalment. Or maybe it’s a contractual thing.

Fret not, The Rock has fought mutant monsters and Mother Nature and Statham has socked a giant shark. So taking on a cybernetically enhanced opponent should be a piece of cake.

How much you enjoy Hobbs & Shaw might depends on whether you buy Shaw’s bad-to-good-guy transformation in F&F8 after he killed drift guru and peanut eater Han (Sung Kang) in F&F6.  If you don’t, then you’re going to have an issue with Hobbs & Shaw. I know I don't.

Then again, you don’t come to this movie to explore guilt and redemption. No, you pay good money to see s*** blown up. Your mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for the messy CG booms-and-kabooms which are so removed from the laws of physics that they might as well be animated.

The physical brawls are disappointing too. After the wonder-fu mayhem of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, every punch and kick comes across as mild and by-the-numbers, which is ironic because Hobbs & Shaw helmer David Leitch co-directed the first John Wick.

Between Johnson, Statham and Elba, they have enough charisma to power an aircraft carrier; the best parts are watching them trade insults and wisecracks but those simple pleasures (and two surprise cameos) are overshadowed by the idiotic action.

Johnson, Statham and Elba should get together again and make another movie, a full-on rom-com perhaps. How about a remake of Three Men and a Baby, and the baby is a muscle car? It’ll probably be more entertaining and shorter.

At 135 minutes, Hobbs & Shaw is unnecessarily long — it’s half an hour past its bedtime. And this is how you stay awake: whenever the word ‘family’ is uttered, slap yourself. Have fun doing that. (**1/2)

Photos: UIP