The best thing about Hobbs & Shaw, the first feature-length spin-off in the Fast & Furious series, is that anyone can watch it. It does a good job standing on its own legs and distancing itself from its popular franchise; allowing everyone to pick up on the same page. But perhaps in an attempt to give its spin-off series a safe start, Hobbs & Shaw is as typical as action movies come – Hollywood buys this type of action fodder in wholesale. The worst part about Hobbs & Shaw, and what ultimately swings my indifference towards annoyance, is the film’s misrepresentation of “schlock”.
Hobbs & Shaw knows its dumb, even going as far as poking fun of itself during the plot’s campier bits. But when our defences have been lowered, the film tries to pull a fast one on the audience by attempting to repackage its silliness for slickness. What the filmmakers are, unfortunately, unaware of is that this bait-and-switch is only possible when the silliness is fully embraced. Look at 2017’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage, an equally dumb action film starring Fast & Furious’ Vin Diesel. The reason why this belated sequel to the xXx series works is because it doesn’t manipulate itself to be “cool”. It goes overboard in similar ways, but doesn’t stop to flex and pose; it moves right along to the next flashy set piece. This motivation separates truly entertaining flicks like xXx: Return of Xander Cage (and even last year’s underrated creature feature The Meg) from clumsier, inflated flicks like Hobbs & Shaw.
There’s no shortage of exciting stunts and funny one-liners in Hobbs & Shaw, and I encourage the Fast & Furious series to keep pumping out more spin-offs. But by doing so, the franchise has to have more confidence with their next outing, and own *exactly* what they’re selling.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie