PG-13 because I'm pretty sure that I remember an F-bomb. There's also some murder at the beginning of the movie and the whole thing is pretty violent throughout. It's a little more than your average superhero movie, but the same rules kind of apply. Heck, the movie even calls out that this one is more like a standard superhero movie by referring to the villain as "Black Superman" multiple times. I suppose crime is glorified a bit in this, but I'm not going to consider that a heavy theme. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: David Leitch
When I was in college, I loved Smallville. Yup, that Smallville. That corny CW (or was it WB?) show about a teenage Superman was my jam. I was obsessed. But then Michael Rosenbaum, the guy who played Lex Luthor, left the show and the quality of the program quickly diminished. I know some of you reading were questioning if the show was ever quality. All I have to say to you is "Shut up" and "Let me enjoy myself." Anyway, as bad as the show got, I kept watching. I had invested oh-so-much time into this show that I wasn't going to give it up when I got that far into the franchise. This is a really roundabout way of saying that I have watched so many Fast and Furious movies that it seems silly to quit now that the end is in sight. (Please note: It takes a lot for me to give up on a show, no matter how bad it gets.)
This is the beginning of a trilogy of blog entries called, "My flight home from Italy". On the way to Italy, I was stressed out. I had screaming kids that I tried to get to sleep so they wouldn't be the most jetlagged human beings alive. I was also sitting near a four-year-old, so I didn't want to watch anything that would be too offensive. So I just watched nothing. I kept looking over at my four-year-old and kept telling her to go to sleep. I'd close my eyes and find out that she turned the screen back on. She fell asleep as the plane landed. But on the way home, the rules were different. I had to keep them awake so they could get used to the old schedule. I could watch whatever I wanted because they were hypnotized by the glowing screen. And when I saw that I could catch up on my Fast and Furiousing, I decided to let my brain shut down for two hours and change.
And maybe it was because I was on a plane and hyper-aware of how long the flight was going to be, but my goodness this movie felt long. It's not like it was awful. For the most part, much like the latter Fast and Furious movies, I had a pretty good time. I mean, it's an incredibly dumb time, but it was a good time nonetheless. And if you decide to stop reading here, that's the big takeaway. I mean, I got your click anyway. My numbers are one higher than they were before you got here. It doesn't give me points if you read the whole thing. Just know, through whatever analysis I've vomit up this late at night, it all comes down to the fact that this is a dumb, enjoyable movie and you shouldn't be at all surprised by that. It just felt super long. Like, I kept thinking that every scene was the final act. Like I said, I could blame the plane for that. But my other two movies didn't feel that long so maybe there is something really screwy with the movie.
I'm going to let my negative rumblings out first. It's not like I can gush over the movie or find some really great allegory woven into a movie about two meatheads beating up a handsome meathead. Who knows? Maybe I will. But since I'm stalling for time as my brain sifts through two-hours-and-change of dumbness, I do want to get to the thing that is concrete about this film: Dwayne Johnson has too much influence over this franchise. I don't know why I know so much about the beef between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. I think that most people know that those two do not care about each other. They're both bald muscle men who seem very successful in the entertainment business. But because those two dudes hate each other, I get the feeling that the producers of this franchise really will do anything to make sure that Dwayne Johnson is happy enough to have some kind of tangential relationship with the series. I know that he's quashed the notion that he'll appear in the last entry in the franchise. (Note: I honestly don't believe that it will be the last entry, but I'll let it slide.)
I'm really talking about the third act of this movie: Samoa. I get that Johnson has Somoan pride. He absolutely should. But a pretty shameless movie basically decided to contact the board of tourism for Western Samoa and state that they were going to make a commercial instead of a movie. The Lord of the Rings infamously was filmed in New Zealand. It brought tons of tourism for New Zealand. But there wasn't a point in the movie where Gandalf decided to pull Gimli aside and talk about how great New Zealand was. Hobbs and Shaw does not require a lot of brain cells to get through the film. But it's saying something when the entire Samoa scene pulls you out of what little verisimilitude the movie has to offer to begin with. I mean, honestly. The Rock decides to lead a Haka...again. He loves it. The movie found an excuse for a bunch of Samoan warriors to do a Haka in the face of armed terrorists.
But maybe the joke is on me. The one thing that has made the latter Fast movies kind of fun is how incredibly dumb they are. They push limits on the notion of plausibility and that's part of the whole thing. I hear that they go to space in the ninth movie, so who am I to complain about a tourism video in the last third of the movie? If I had paid to see this movie (which I kind of did with the most expensive way to see it: a plane ticket), I should have known what I was getting into. And those scenes were in the trailer. That was a selling point for a lot of people, the scene where The Rock stops pretending to be Hobbs and just reminding people that he is Samoan. So that leaves me with the rest of the movie.
Listen, I was really paying attention to the movie. The video screen was a foot from my face. My headphones were really loud (so I wouldn't have to hear my two-year-old howling with my wife two rows ahead. I swear I'm a good father and a good husband, but I knew that I couldn't really help shy of carrying that baby to another part of the plane to cry. Side note in the side note: That's what I did on the way to Italy and I got a lot of stink-eye.) This movie tried to give some mythology points to a very goofy franchise and that stuff does not make a lick of sense. Apparently, there's a blood vengeance thing between Brixton and Shaw and I only picked up on that during the final fight. I mean, I knew that Shaw shot him in the head, but I didn't know it was because he framed Shaw? There's a lot of things that you just have to take at surface level when a character says them because the entire Fast series is full of retcons upon retcons, making none of the villains actual bad guys.
But what is it about mismatched buddy cop stories? We took the formula for The Odd Couple and applied it to action movies and people lose their minds. I just wrote about Bad Boys for Life, but this is something that we've embraced since Lethal Weapon. I can't fight it. It's super fun when two guys who absolutely hate each other have to get along for the greater good. I bet that real cops get people who mesh with them very well. But then there's no comedy and there's no drama in those scenarios. After all, a good external conflict needs a good internal conflict. But what also happens is that everything is telegraphed. The frenemy action story is almost the meatloaf of storytelling. It's remarkably safe and predictable. We know that these two guys will bicker the entire movie, setting aside their personal differences when the world is at stake. They'll side-eye each other and they'll make comments. But we'll quickly realize that the two share a mutual respect that will go from straight up antagonist to harmless ribbing coupled with a smirk here and there.
Before I close up --because I've squeezed enough water out of this stone --can I talk about how The Fast and the Furious franchise decided to finally embrace the insanity that it always teased it wasn't going to do? On the now very defunct podcast, Henson always brought up that this is a series that started with guys stealing VCRs and ended with this group of drivers saving the world. But as goofy as the franchise got, it always stayed in the "action" genre exclusively. As much as the physics was a joke and that some of the technology in the film couldn't really exist, we could lie to ourselves and say that Dominic Torreto and his crew existed in our world. Hobbs & Shaw? Straight up sci-fi superhero action movie. That's insane. The other guys were superheroes, but we weren't allowed to call themselves superheroes. The bad guy in this one? He straight up has powers. He's a cyborg fighting these two guys who drive cars well. Heck, as cool as the car stuff is here, it's mostly about two guys who are really good at punching and looking suave. Who needs cars when two guys can punch a cyborg?
So it's dumb. I should just learn to say that movies can be dumb sometimes and that's not the worst thing in the world. And like I mentioned, I kind of had a good time with it. Sure, the Samoa stuff really pulls you out of the movie, but that's okay because I shouldn't feel the need to be invested in everything. Movies --and this is me growing as a person --are allowed to be a little dumb sometimes. As long as you are chasing these dumb movies with something smarter, go ahead. Watch these movies. I had a good time and you will too. Maybe. I don't know you.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.