Dwayne Johnson knows how to hold the stage and keep his fans happy, even in the case of an emergency. It’s a skill he deftly displayed at the world premiere of “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” at the Dolby Theatre on Saturday, 13 July 2019.
Fans of the “Fast & Furious” franchise will be familiar with Hobbs and Shaw, but for those who aren’t “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” gives enough back story that you don’t need to be in the know, but know that the action should not be tried at home. Put on your mental seatbelt because director David Leitch (“John Wick” with Chad Stahelski and “Deadpool 2”) immediately revs up engines and action with a few worthy pitstops for humor.
Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is a Diplomatic Security Service agent first introduced in the 2017 “The Fate of the Furious” or “Fast & Furious 8” (“F8”). Hobbs recruited Dom and his team to help retrieve an electromagnetic pulse device in Berlin. Dom steals the device for a cyberterrorist called Cipher (Charlize Theron) and frames Hobbs who ends up in prison. There, Hobbs bumps into Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a rogue British Special Forces assassin who he previously helped imprison. Now Hobbs teams up with Shaw for a jail break. Cipher had hired Owen Shaw, Deckard’s younger brother and former Special Air Service agent (Luke Evans). That movie ended with Cipher still at large. Hobbs declining to return to his DSS job to spend more time with his daughter. Deckard remains out of prison.
In “Hobbs & Shaw,” Vanessa Kirby is introduced as Hattie Shaw, Deckard Shaw’s sister. On an M16 operation to obtain a dangerous virus (C17) developed for biological warfare, Hattie’s team is attacked and killed by a cyber-genetically enhanced international terrorist group, led by a former M16 agent, Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). As the only survivor, she’s framed as a rogue agent by Lore and the mysterious organization, Eteon, for whom he now works. Hattie has C17 by injecting the capsules into her own body.
Lore’s slowly becoming all artificial intelligence. As a human, he should be dead, considering Shaw shot him in the face and a few other places to make sure of that. But like Steve Austin, the bionic man, Lore was salvaged. As Lore will later explain, Eteon and its minions believe that “Perfection is a painful process. Humanity must evolve before it destroys itself.” To that end, Eteon developed this deadly virus, and now wants it back.
Hobbs in now in Los Angeles, working as “a cold can of whoop-ass” and being a good father, while Shaw is on the other side of the Atlantic doing a similar job in the colder climate of London. Shaw regularly visits his mum (Helen Mirren) in jail, but she’s sad he’s not with his sister with whom he had been close as kids.
A CIA agent tries to convince these abrasive brothers of the trade to work together and they do–not willingly so there’s a few betrayals and a lot of one-upmanship involved. The lads learn Hattie will die unless she gets it extracted before the capsules containing the virus dissolve exposing her and then the world to the virus. The extraction machine must be found.
From the trailer, you know these three will end up in Samoa (actually Kaua’i, one of the Hawaiian islands) and Hobbs and his family will go old school since their mother has sold all of their guns. As you can see from the trailer, Kirby’s Hattie is also tough, but always has time to brush her eyebrows, add eyeshadow and mascara on top of false eyelashes. There’s also the suggestion that Hobbs and Hattie may have a romantic future which, as you can guess, would not play well with Shaw.
In his remarks before the screening, Leitch noted this movie has been “an incredible journey” about “reconnecting” with family, but he also “artistically” reconnected with his “stunt brethren.” Have no doubt–this is an action-heavy film that pauses only for one-liners and Leitch times all this well enough.
The humor is mostly about male bravado without being too crude (yes mention is made of the size of someone’s penis) and Johnson carried that kind of disparaging good-natured ribbing on stage during the premiere before the film as the main cast took to the stage to introduce the film, and during, when an electrical problem caused more smoke and sizzle than was on the screen and a VIP section had to be evacuated.
Johnson got on stage after the lights were turned on and thanked the audience for staying, reassuring them that the movie would continue, commenting that “I stayed here and made sure everyone was safe” but his co-star, Jason Statham, “He ran.”
In his comments prior to the screening, Johnson also noted that he felt Leitch effectively “showcased our chemistry.” Johnson and Statham have an abrasive sibling rivalry relationship that expands the humorous potential of an action film. Johnson also noted that the film showcased Samoan culture–a first for a big global reach movie. Yet as I noted above, if you’re interested in visiting those lovely scenic cliffs, you should head to Hawai’i where the film was shot instead of Samoa.
Both the director and the Johnson asked critics and audience members to keep some things under wraps such as the cameos and do remember to stay until the very end. There are mid-credits scenes as well as a post-credit scene, so do stay until the very end.
“Hobbs & Shaw” save the world and, if this movie is successful, will return to do it again.