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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Blu-ray)
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG-13 // November 5, 2019 // Region Free
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted November 27, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

I have been a fan of the Fast and the Furious franchise since the release of the original film in 2001. Sure, the films can be silly, with their over-the-top action and California sun-soaked bro culture, but the eight (and counting) core films have been remarkably entertaining, especially after the return of Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker to the series in 2009. This ninth film and the franchise's first spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw, has the trappings of another winner in talented action director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde), a $200-million pedigree budget, and affable stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, but it never reaches high gear. Despite strong supporting talent in Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby and Helen Mirren, Hobbs & Shaw suffers from uneven pacing over its bloated 136-minute run time, and the script by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce is unremarkable. Though it packs plenty of action, its jokes frequently fall flat, and Hobbs & Shaw lands as a big-budget bore.

MI6 agent Hattie Haw (Kirby) attempts to retrieve a super-virus from terrorist organization Eteon, but operative Brixton Lore (Elba) kills her entire team and frames her for the crime. Hattie injects herself with the virus and goes on the run, causing CIA agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and former MI6 agent Deckard Shaw (Statham), who share a rocky professional past, to reluctantly re-team to find Hattie, who is also Shaw's sister. Brixton receives orders from an unseen handler and is given the ultimatum of tracking down Hattie or having his own cybernetic implants deactivated. Hobbs and the Shaw siblings seek the scientist who created the virus, dubbed Snowflake, in order to find a cure and ensure it is not released on humanity. They travel to various exotic locales along the way, and there is plenty of gunfire and combat for our protagonists.

I really like Johnson and Statham as actors, and I enjoyed their characters in other series films. I think the problem here is that these men were better in supporting roles, and their characters as developed for this feature film are simply not that interesting. You can tell Leitch and company set up Hobbs & Shaw as a buddy action comedy with plenty of banter and feuding between the reluctant heroes. That might have worked better if the dialogue were not so stale. Both Statham and Johnson have good comedic timing, but they are not given much to work with here. Kirby is kind of along for the ride, and for much of the film Deckard Shaw is worried that Hobbs is trying to hit on his sister. Elba's Lore has a ridiculous name but is a more interesting character, and the film hints that the organization controlling him may factor into future franchise projects. This story has just been done to death in other similar franchises.

Because the story is so familiar and formulaic, Hobbs & Shaw must fall on its action and humor to succeed. I've already discussed the stale jokes, and the action is not particularly impressive either. Earlier Fast and Furious films impressed with practical effects, often involving street racing, and only later did the series begin supplementing the in-camera work with CGI. The action sequences here feel like they were created in a computer, and other than a cool chase in which Lore follows the crew on a motorcycle, the action moments are largely forgettable. That leaves Hobbs & Shaw with some big problems: The script is not involving enough to provide dramatic heft, the jokes do not land consistently, and the action scenes produce more yawns than adrenaline. This means Hobbs & Shaw is boring, which is not something a Fast and Furious film needs to be.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

Universal's 2.39:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is impressive, even when the film stalls. This is probably about as good as Blu-ray can look. Fine-object detail and texture are impeccable, and the film is incredibly sharp and lifelike throughout. If you are looking for that "HD pop" you will find it here. Every bead of sweat, fabric texture, set dressing and landscape is visible in sparkling clarity, and colors are expertly saturated. Contrast is spot-on, skin tones appear natural, and black levels are steady, with excellent shadow detail. The film looks great in motion, and compression artifacts are never an issue.

SOUND:

The Dolby Atmos mix, which I enjoyed as a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix, is totally immersive and supports the action-heavy film with frequent effects pans and LFE response. The entire sound scape is used for hand-to-hand combat, car chases, explosions and gunfire, and ambient effects are omnipresent. The score is weighty and appropriately integrated, and dialogue is never distorted. French and Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus mixes are included, as are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and a Movies Anywhere digital copy. The discs are packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a slipcover. The Blu-ray includes a slew of extras: Alternate Opening (10:14/HD); Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes (34:29/HD); Johnson & Statham: Hobbs & Shaw (3:38/HD); Progress of a Fight Scene with Director David Leitch (4:57/HD); Practical Action (3:43/HD); The Bad Guy (2:00/HD); The Sister (3:58/HD); Hobbs' Family Tree (3:20/HD); The Matriarch (1:35/HD); New Friends (2:01/HD); Elevator Action (1:59/HD); Stunt Show and Tell (3:41/HD); Keeping it in the Family: A Conversation with Roman and Dwayne (5:02/HD); Blind Fury (1:50/HD); Dwayne and Hobbs: Love at First Bite (1:36/HD); and an Audio Commentary by Director David Leitch.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Although I am a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise, spin-off Hobbs & Shaw is the first of the nine films that I do not need to add to my collection. Fans of the series may want to Rent It on a rainy evening, but the film stalls with dull action, flat jokes and a tired narrative, despite the best efforts of stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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