Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Dennis Seuling
  • Review Date: Nov 27, 2019
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Blu-ray Review)

Director

David Leitch

Release Date(s)

2019 (November 5, 2019)

Studio(s)

Seven Bucks Productions/Chris Morgan Productions (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: B

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Blu-ray Disc)

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Review

What’s so entertaining about Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is its utter ridiculousness and improbability. In a TV interview, one of its stars, Dwayne Johnson, rightly called the film a popcorn flick. It’s fast-paced with lots of action, a love-hate relationship between its two stars, and plenty of quips and put downs to help space out the elaborate stunts.

Former U.S. federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and former mercenary Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are recruited by the government to track down a virus delivery mechanism that can destroy mankind. Rogue MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), Deckard’s estranged sister, is implicated, but the theft was engineered by Brixton (Idris Elba), a nearly invulnerable bionic creation. Under attack by Brixton and his motorcycle-riding thugs, Hattie resorts to extraordinary means to hide the virus and escapes.

If you’re wondering why such a virus was created in the first place, it’s the McGuffin that sets the plot in motion, albeit a pretty clumsy one. Though supposedly of incredible importance, it figures only intermittently in the plot.

Ultimately, Hobbs and Shaw are led to Hattie and despite some initial one-on-one battles, the three join forces to fight off Brixton and save the world.

Director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) relies on the chemistry between Johnson and Statham, knock-down, drag-out fist fights, a series of car, truck, and helicopter stunts, and lots of CGI. The bickering between the two leads is the film’s ongoing, sustained gag. Though they dislike each other, they each appreciate the other’s skills. Hattie, in keeping with recent films’ tendency to portray women’s empowerment, is a badass warrior who takes on Brixton and serves as referee when Hobbs and her brother spar verbally.

Elba’s Brixton is a good over-the-top villain whose electronic circuitry allows him to react instantaneously to threats and deflect bullets as if they were ping pong balls. He proves a formidable foe for the three mortals who must confront him.

The light, bantering tone of the film allows the comedy to dominate. It traverses standard action flick territory until its third act, set in Hobbs’ native land of Samoa. He hasn’t been back or seen his family in years, but feels Samoa is the perfect place to lay low and regroup before doing final battle with Brixton. Hobbs’ relationship with his family is strained, and he receives less than a hearty welcome home.

The final confrontation between the good guys and the bad guys involves intricate planning, unconventional weapons, strategy, timing, and knowledge of the turf. Some of the defenses are reminiscent of how the gunfighters and the Mexican villagers in The Magnificent Seven, greatly outnumbered by the bandit gang, used ingenuity and surprise to defend their town.

This last sequence features one of the most outrageous stunts I’ve seen in a movie in terms of originality, impossibility, and excitement. There are some breathtaking moments here.

Hobbs & Shaw, rated PG-13, is an exciting action flick that delivers some amazing, over-the-top sequences. Not a movie out to win accolades at Cannes, it nonetheless supplies plenty of laughs and keeps the adrenaline flowing.

The Blu-ray release, in 1080p High Definition resolution, is presented in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The picture is sharp and often dense with detail. Many of the action sequences combine live action with visual effects, and the composites of studio-shot blue-screen and CGI look amazingly authentic. In a film that depends so heavily on action, this is not to be underestimated. Details in close-ups include pores, sweat, individual hairs, and details of the heavily tattooed Samoans. Explosions are dazzlingly bright. Some of the hand-to-hand fight scenes have been accelerated to achieve a comic-book look and amp up excitement. Brixton’s attack is noteworthy in both complexity and spectacle, with bad guys rappelling down the wall of a skyscraper. A combination of actual water and CGI rainfall in a climactic confrontation adds drama.

The soundtrack is Dolby Atmos. Spanish and French soundtrack options include 7.1 Dolby Digital. Spanish, French, and English subtitles (for the hearing impaired) are optional. Hobbs & Shaw is a loud, intense picture in keeping with the Fast & Furious franchise. Fight scenes feature items being broken, glass shattering, punches and kicks landing, characters grunting, and bodies tossed into assorted objects. In the final battle on Samoa, sound plays a significant role. Trucks peeling out, helicopter rotor blades whirring, cars skidding, guns firing, wooden weapons smacking into bad guys, and bodies thumping on the ground are heard left, right, and center, giving viewers the impression of being in the midst of the mayhem.

Bonus materials on the 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include director’s audio commentary, an alternate opening, deleted and extended scenes, and 13 behind-the-scenes featurettes. A Digital code is contained on a paper insert within the package.

Audio Commentary – Director David Leitch describes how closely he works with the stunt team. He went for a comic-book feel, with exaggerated action throughout, and wanted each shot to tell a story. An early sequence in which a split screen shows Hobbs and Shaw simultaneously starting their day illustrates similarities and differences between the two men. Though seemingly diametric opposites, they are similar at the core. A “collaborative environment” existed on the set. Violence in the film is tempered by comedy. Stuntmen played small parts so shooting could move quickly. Leitch discusses in detail several action sequences. Because he is used to making R-rated films, he had to be aware of keeping action and dialogue “family friendly” for a PG-13 rating. Though the film has lots of visual effects, “the more you can shoot in the camera, the better the action will look.” Hawaii stood in for Samoa, with an abandoned sugar mill serving as a major location. The final battle scene was shot over several days with precise coordination required to integrate practical, visual, CGI, and blue screen shots. “Puzzle pieces to put the sequence together are mind blowing.”

Alternate Opening – Close-ups of Hobbs and Shaw switch back and forth as the two men exchange insults. This cuts to the title “One Day Earlier” and then continues where the theatrical version begins.

Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes
Brixton Opens Case and Grenade Explodes
Extended Hobbs and Sam in the Pancake House
Extended Pancake House with Locke
Extended Hobbs and Shaw Face Off
Extended Shaw Tracks Hattie
Hobbs Gets Handsy with Hattie
Extended Hobbs and Hattie Tango
Extended Car Chase Dialogue
Passport Check – Alternate
Extended Dinkley on the Plane
Maximum Weight These Parachutes Hold?
Dinkley in His Office – Alternate
Samoa Truck with Radio
Extended Hobbs and Hattie Talk Family
Jonah – Let Me Be Clear
My Land, My Plan
Extended Hobbs and Hattie at Sunset
Extended Hobbs and Jonah Talk
Extended Shaw and Hattie Talk
Extended Battle
Cliffside Walk
Hobbs and Locke Phone Call

Johnson & Statham: Hobbs & Shaw – Director David Leitch notes the “chemistry between Dwayne and Jason is pretty special.” These are two alphas with different styles. “We make their rough edges bump up against each other, but they have a mutual respect for each other.”

Progress of a Fight Scene – Director David Leitch, whose background includes martial arts competitor, stuntman, and fight coordinator, breaks down how to make a fight scene. The focus must be on story and characters. Actors are trained to do as much as possible in order to not break the illusion that characters are “doing their own stuff.” Finally, visual and special effects are integrated. Hattie and Shaw have similar fighting styles. Leitch strove to take fights to the next level, with levity or severity. The Samoan battle incorporates traditional Samoan weapons. Leitch refers to battle scenes as logistical puzzles.

Practical Action – According to Dwayne Johnson, “Action is the heart of the movie.” Action drives characters and story, and is as important as narrative in character development. Idris Elba speaks about how precise you have to be with movement and how action must be believable. Though actors have different approaches to work, “we all enjoy the physical aspect of what we do.”

The Bad Guy – Brixton (Idris Elba) is a robot capable of being a formidable match for both Hobbs and Shaw. Elba lends gravitas to the character, which balances the movie’s humor. Brixton is a departure from the kinds of roles Elba usually plays.

The Sister – Vanessa Kirby describes the character of Hattie. She’s put the world at risk but has the opportunity to save it. She’s a powerful, smart, female character—exceptional at what she does and as capable as the male characters. As Queenie’s daughter and Deckard’s sister, Hattie is a “chip off the old block.”

Hobbs’ Family Tree – Jonah feels betrayed by his brother. The actors playing Hobbs’ brothers quickly developed a camaraderie. Johnson refers to “a bunch of brown people saving the world” as something historic.

The Matriarch – Queenie (Helen Mirren) is one of those people who knows how to work things for her benefit. “She’s the weight of the Shaw family even behind prison doors.”

New Friends – Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart guest star in small roles.

Elevator Action – Dwayne Johnson comments that the film wanted to feature “spectacular action.” The elevator scene is a key set piece that anchors the film with its “insane action.. gravity-defying action.”

Stunt Show and Tell – The process of creating an action sequence is described; the storyboards, an animated rendering of what the final film, the actual filming, and the application of visual and special effects. Hundreds of people in many divisions collaborate. Actual footage is matched by visual artists. Helicopters and cranes with stabilized cameras are used to provide dynamic footage.

Keeping It in the Family: A Conversation With Roman and Dwayne – Joe “Roman Reigns” Anoai (Mateo) and Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs) discuss the importance of family as a theme of the film. Johnson mentions that his grandfather was the first Samoan professional wrestler and is proud that the movie puts a spotlight on Samoan culture.

Blind Fury – Dwayne Johnson explains how scenes in the film reflect actual incidents in his past, and describes in detail his grandfather’s violent encounter with a fellow wrestler outside the ring.

Dwayne and Hobbs: Love at First Bite – Johnson’s 3-year-old pet bulldog, named Hobbs, visits the set. Various crew members fuss over him.

– Dennis Seuling

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