F9 The Fast Saga

I have been a sometimes fan of the series. I have never seen 2,3, or4 and only half of 5. 6,7, and 8 as well as Hobbs and Shaw are in my back pocket. Frankly, there is nothing to say about this except it is stupid, but I enjoyed watching the stupidity.

The substitution of Jon Cena for Dwayne Johnson allows Vin Diesel to be the focus of the film, and that’s fine. There are a couple dozen secondary characters that some people seem to like but all seem to me to be replaceable at any time. OK, maybe Tyrece Gibson as the main comic relief would be a little tough to replace, but otherwise, they are cardboard cutouts being moved around the set pieces.

Most of the film is made up of one outlandish chase, race, or fistfight punctuated with some flashbacks that explain most of what is happening. Don’t worry about following that, just keep your eyes on the screen for the next impossible stunt, physics defying escape or miraculous moment of self awareness. This film goes full meta, acknowledging how silly it is and even nearly saying “we are a movie”.

There is no sense in analyzing any of it, or critiquing the story. this series jumped the shark years ago, it’s now just a question of what the next shark is. I may be in spoiler territory here, but don’t worry, it was going to come out somewhere anyway, this is the “Moonraker” of the series. They make a bunch of corny jokes, and go to space. I’m only surprised that Roger Moore did not show up with his laser equipped Space Shuttle to help out.

F9 was the subject of this week’s Lambcast, and we spent an hour just laughing at all the idiotic coincidences, resurrections, and tropes these films wallow in. I will post a link here when the podcast is live, I will credit Mark Hofmeyer, for coming up with my favorite title for a movie next time. “Fast Ten Your Seatbelts”. That’s better writing than anything in this pile of stuff that is instantly disposable, but fun while you are disposing of it.

Hobbs and Shaw

Remember how much backlash there was to the last Pierce Brosnan Bond film?  You know the one with the surfing and parasailing ski sequence and let’s not forget the invisible car. People moaned so much about those elements that they dumped Pierce, rebooted the whole 007 series and went back to basics as much as possible. Now imagine that the producers had ignored fan grousing and only paid attention to the box office, after all “Die Another Day” was a huge success. The result would have been a series of films that got more outlandish and cartoon like  and the series would simply be a mechanical assembly of parts to pick our pockets every few years. That’s basically what happened with the “Fast and Furious” series. “Hobbs and Shaw” is a road runner cartoon without the plot.

Both Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson are charismatic action stars who remain able to open a movie on their own. This team up is a spin off of the “Fast and Furious” films where their characters have basically established a tenuous working relationship but a terrible personal relationship. In other words, they were ripe for a bickering buddy comedy, so hear it is. This film could have been quite successful just putting the two of them in a car, plane or locked room together and let them verbally and physically battle it out. That however would be too subtle for this series. When you are making a deep fried Twinkie, you might as well dip it in chocolate, dust it with powdered sugar, add some sprinkles and then provide some whipped cream to dip it in as you are consuming it. There is nothing that is off the table in these movies and if you are in the mood to over indulge in CGI mayhem, hokey plot twists and some scenery chewing performances, then this is a movie for you.

The chase scene through London in the early part of the film is a good example of this excess. The Maclaren that our duo are using to escape the bad guys is instantaneously able to turn without skidding, hit the perfect speed in a bit of cross traffic and generally out perform the Batmobile on city streets. It is pursed by a magic motorcycle that can levitate, defy the concept of inertia and survive collisions that would disable a military vehicle weighting a hundred times as much. Later in the movie there is a vehicle that does a 360 degree rotation in mid-air. Even though the Bond film ruined their stunt with a pipe whistle effect, you could see that it was real and impressive. In this film, it is simply one more CGI moment to stack on the pyre. By the time the climax shows up, we are already overstuffed with these visual confections and the resolution means much less. You have to suspend disbelief and common sense to enjoy this stuff. If you are willing, then go for it.

On a side note, like many other films of the last few years, there are a number of sequences that take place over the credits, mid-credits and at the end of the credits.  People, if you are holding your bladders to get through something in the middle of this film without missing anything, you are defeating your purpose when you leave your trash in the aisle and rush out of the theater with the commencement of the closing music.  You won’t be missing anything essential, but you would not have missed anything essential an hour earlier if you visited the loo then. There are some very amusing moments in those last minute appearances of our characters, why skip a good joke? To get to the parking lot five minutes earlier? It makes no sense. Maybe a dozen people out of the couple hundred in the theater stuck it out for those bits. People, you paid for this and you are leaving product on the plate uneaten. Shame on you.

You could rightly describe the first “Fast and Furious” as “Point Break” with cars. “Hobbs and Shaw” is “Lethal Weapon, 2, 3 and 4” with spies instead of cops. If it’s hot where you live and the local cinema has good air conditioning, this is perfectly satisfactory. Maybe the best part however is next winter, when you are channel surfing and this is on, you can watch it again and it will feel like a new experience because there was nothing notable about it the first time around.