By Troy Ribeiro
Film: "Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw"; Director: David Leitch; Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Cliff Curtis, Helen Mirren, Elza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, El Sua; Rating: **1/2
This film is a spin-off of the "Fast And Furious" mega-franchise and at its core, it is an old-fashioned buddy comedy with all the trappings of the series. It is frivolous banter between its stars, jaw-dropping and logic-defying car chases, astutely choreographed, muscle flexing action sequences and a story to boot.
Unfortunately, the story is the weakest link of this off-shoot.
Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) the federal agent working for the Diplomatic Security Services is at odds with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) a former British Special Forces' assassin-turned-mercenary after the events of the seriesa¿ previous two editions.
These guys don't want to work together again, but they are forced to because of the unreliable behaviour of Shaw's sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) a rogue MI6 agent, and the frightening ambitions of the anarchist Brixton Lorr (Elba Idris) a mechanical and genetically enhanced half-man who is an agent of an underground military-tech group called Eteon.
Eteon had commissioned Professor Andreiko to prepare a virus that could annihilate the world in a matter of days and Brixton was supposed to collect it on their behalf. But, Hattie Shaw gets to it first and injects it into her own body. This means she's a ticking clock of world-annihilating contagions.
According to Professor Andreiko, the only way to prevent the virus from killing everyone is to either, kill and burn Hattie or extract the virus through an equipment that is currently at the Etheon factory in Ukraine.
How Hobbs, Shaw and Hattie avoid this catastrophe, forms the crux of the narrative.
For a logical mind, the premise would appear obtuse, but fans of the franchise will find just another reason to cheer at some mindless fun.
The plot is convoluted and digresses into details that derails the mind. The narrative gets giddy and goofy in spots and always wears its fundamental absurdity with good humour especially when showcasing family ties and the fast-flying antagonistic banter between Johnson's Yank, Hobbs and Stathama¿s working-class Brit, Shaw.
The family theme is both overplayed and underdeveloped, making the sub-plots appear blunt and forced. Hence there are no real emotional stakes.
Johnson and Statham are charismatic and entertaining in their own way. They both seem to be in a comfort-zone and they appear to be walking through their roles. Nevertheless, their strong on-screen chemistry is palpable.
Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby are remarkably striking and they hold their steed against the duo.
Helen Mirren and Elza Gonzalez, as mothers of Shaw and Hobb are distinct and impressive, albeit in miniscule roles. Eddie Marson as the Russian Professor Andreiko, is perfunctory and amusing.
On the technical front, expectedly, the film is astutely mounted with finesse.
Overall, the film in spite of being high on action, enjoyable and engaging, the film appears absurd and fails to connect emotionally.
( With inputs from IANS )