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‘Hobbs & Shaw’ long on fun but short on brains

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“Hobb & Shaw” has everything a “Fast & Furious” movie fan could want. Car chases, beautiful women, gunplay, explosions and characters with oversized personalities fill this movie full of the same switch-your-brain-off-and-have-a-good-time fun that’s made this series so popular. Honestly, “Hobbs & Shaw” is a lot of fun and it works pretty well, in spite of its flaws.

Until it doesn’t.

In a plot that shreds the ability to suspend disbelief, this flick reunites DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and mercenary Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), two breakout characters from the main “Fast & the Furious” series. Together, they must rescue Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), thwart a plot by a shadowy organization that wants to “perfect humanity,” and stop Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a tech-enhanced baddie with superhuman abilities.

This is fun. Really fun. The two leads have great chemistry and their performances bounce off one another in really entertaining ways. Throw in Elba, the best actor of the bunch, and you have a solid foundation of acting talent. All three of these guys have bucketloads of charisma and really know their way around filming convincing action scenes.

Kirby also acquits herself pretty well. She holds her own in the action scenes and adds an element of friction to the Hobbs/Shaw dynamic. Helen Mirren pops up and is so good that I hope she plays a much more significant role in the inevitable sequel. Eiza Gonzalez shines in a to-brief appearance. There are also a couple of surprise cameos that add some welcome laughs. I’m not going to spoil it by telling you who these cameos are, but keep your eyes peeled.

The action scenes are exciting and well-staged and the whole movie is visually stylish eye candy full of camera movement and money shots. That’s probably due to the presence of director David Leitch. This cat has an extensive background in action filmmaking, from performing and coordinating stunts for such films as the “Matrix” sequels and “300” to directing the first “John Wick,” “Atomic Blonde” and “Deadpool 2.” He knows how to shoot action scene that not only excite you but also make sense and always give you a clear sense of the geography in the fights.

Add in some great locations and funny jokes and you have an entertaining action-packed spectacle that’s shouldered by a pair of eminently watchable leads. It also does us a favor by focusing the main characters and eliminating a lot of the inane banter between uninteresting side character that drags down some of the other “Fast” flicks.

Unfortunately, this movie has an immense, catastrophic flaw: it’s dumb.

When I say “Hobbs & Shaw” is dumb, I don’t just mean that it’s full stunts and car tricks that defy logic and the laws of physics. I mean it’s dumb because there’s not a single scrap of character development during the entire 135-minute run time. I mean it’s dumb because nobody speaks a single syllable an actual human being would ever say, instead spouting one-liners that sound like rejected marketing catchphrases from a booty-kicking company.

I mean it’s dumb because the final act of the film features a big battle that features so many eye-rollingly ridiculous, it’s like watching an episode the “Wacky Races” cartoon, only more nonsensical.

The events that challenge the ability to suspend build and build until the dam breaks and it’s impossible to connect with these characters or care what happens to them. A lack of tension due to the fact that our protagonists are nigh unto indestructible doesn’t help.

The bottom line: “Hobbs & Shaw” is definitely an appropriately ridiculous entry in the “Fast & Furious” franchise. How well you roll with that will likely depend on whether or not you’re a “Fast” fan. Fans of the series will probably have a blast. For non-fans… well, at least it’s got some pretty rad visuals and Johnson, Statham and Elba are fun to watch.

3 Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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