- 13 Aug 19
Fun - if overlong - exercise in explosive escapism.
Directed by David Leitch. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren. 135 mins. In cinemas now.
Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and lawless outcast Shaw (Jason Statham) first faced off in 2015’s Furious 7, these enemies-at-first-sight have been throwing literal and figurative punches at one another. But now, in The Fast And The Furious’ first ever stand-alone spin-off film, the two have to partner up. Who could possibly defeat this blend of brawn and brain – not to mention their ability to suspend the laws of physics, gravity and horsepower when a chase or action sequence demands it? It would have to be Superman, right?
Unluckily for Hobbs and Shaw, their new enemy is the cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba), who literally describes himself as “Black Superman”. Part of a shadowy collective who want to unleash an unstoppable bio-threat upon the world, the only people in Brixton’s way are Hobbs, Shaw, and a fearless MI6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) - who just happens to be Shaw’s sister.
With a plot that hurtles from London to Chernobyl to Samoa; sees cars and tanks explode through buildings; but still has a focus on family, both biological and forged, all the classic Fast And Furious ingredients are not just back, but elevated. The screenplay by Morgan and Drew Pearce (Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation, Iron Man 3) is filled with the writers’ love of outrageous action sequences and (literally) incredible technology. While there are full-throttle car-chases through London, there are also epic Mission Impossible-style stunts, rendered simultaneously ludicrous and entertaining by the Fast & Furious’ loose grip on reality. A gun and swear-word slinging match while running down the sides of a London skyscraper? You got it – because Tom Cruise isn’t on set fact-checking and demanding he actually do it.
The film proves 15 minutes too long, but director David Leitch (Deadpool 2) knows how to up the energy during a lull: with his trademark snark humour. While Johnson and Statham’s predictable alpha bickering quickly wears thin, the film is packed with winking cameos that are good gimmicky fun, and inject different comedic styles into the mix when the central dynamic begins to stale. The definition of fun, silly escapism.