As “Fast and Furious” films go, “Hobbs & Shaw” is fairly outrageous.
Instead of just road races, you get James Bond antics that let Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham trade off the role of leading man.
In those earlier films, you may remember, they were rivals. Now, they’re partners, trying to keep a Terminator-like villain (Idris Elba) from infecting the world.
Statham’s sister (Vanessa Kirby) has injected herself with a killer virus to protect the rest of the world. She becomes the prey; Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Statham) emerge as the protectors.
Why taking the virus (with a use-by date) is a good idea isn’t explained. It’s just a way to get Hobbs a potential love interest and a reason to stay focused.
Director David Leitch doesn’t skimp on action but this outing relies more on dialogue than most.
A couple of choice cameos enforce the comic underpinning and let the two stars show they’ve got alternate careers as well. For good measure, Helen Mirren turns up as Shaw’s mother, a woman thrown into prison for her own misdeeds.
Hobbs and Shaw take their road show to London, Moscow and Samoa. Each spot brings out some big stunt and a close encounter with Elba.
The best is saved for last when they lure the bad guy to Hobbs’ home. There, he has to reconcile with his brother, listen to his mother and fight mechanics with handmade weapons. His estranged brother’s ability to soup up cars comes in handy, too, when they have to wrangle a helicopter and face off with the guy who calls himself Black Superman.
As with most “Fast & Furious” films, there’s a silliness factor that isn’t tempered by the impending doom.
Kirby, in fact, never shows a sign of illness, even though she knows she has to have the virus extracted by a machine that doesn’t really exist.
Leitch more than takes this over the top, directing Elba to look like he’s in a much more dire film. Like too many cartoon villains, he toys with his enemies long enough for them to gain strength and defeat an army of men.
Statham and Johnson are good teammates, able to give as well as they receive. A bit on an airplane suggests they could do a full-out comedy; a series of moves named for rock stars shows they could replace flying fists with intelligence.
This is a silly franchise. But it's one that works.