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Movie Review

Luke Hobbs likes routine. Every morning he wakes up at 6 a.m., swallows a few (dozen?) raw eggs, bench-presses a Kia or two and then sets out to save the world.

And, by his own admission, the guy’s pretty good at it. Practice makes perfect, right? Biceps that need their own airline seat don’t hurt, either.

Clearly, the bad guys need to step up their game.

An inscrutable, deep-pocketed and ever-so-evil secret agency known as ETEON, thinks Hobbs is the bee’s knees—physically, at least. Oh, sure, the Diplomatic Secret Service agent needs a serious attitude adjustment. But if ETEON succeeds in its goal of anihilating most of humanity, Hobbs might slot perfectly into the aftermath. Why, in ETEON’s imagined future, most everyone might have necks the size of truck tires.

But ETEON really needs to commit some serious genocide before it can consider hiring new hulking adjuncts. And there’s a virus that seems just the ticket.

Britain’s MI6 is after the virus, too, and a hotshot squad of its agents actually gets to the virus first. But ETEON is not so easily put off. It sends in Brixton Lore, a former MI6 agent himself who—thanks to his employers—has received a series of cyborgian upgrades. Those upgrades have given him super strength and even a super “Spidey sense,” if you will, which allows him to track, dodge and counter any errant fists flying in his direction. We can only assume he has a killer GPS system, too. And maybe his own version of Siri or Alexa. (“Hey, Me!” He might say during one of his frequent fistfights. “Play, ‘Macarena!’”)

In a showdown for the virus, Brixton quickly kills most of the MI6 squad. Agent Hattie Shaw manages to keep the virus out of Brixton’s hands, but only by making a deeply improbable escape and injecting the virus into her own body. In 72 hours, she’ll be dead. And given the virus’ wildly contagious nature and reliable lethality, the rest of the world might quickly follow.

Clearly, Hattie’s in need of some help, and the CIA sends some. It asks Hobbs to once again consider saving the world for them. But given he’ll be going against a super-human adversary, even Hobbs might need a little help.

The CIA turns to an unlikely source: Deckard Shaw, a former British assassin who’s gone freelance. Yes, he’s an odd pick, but here’s the thing: Hattie’s his sister. He’s an old pal of Brixton’s, too. In fact, you could say that—by shooting Brixton in the head a few years ago—Shaw helped make Brixton the machine-man he is today.

Shaw knows Hobbs as well, by the way. (For a shadowy freelance assassin, the guy’s suprisingly well connected.) Only problem is, he hates Hobbs’ guts. He hates his face. He hates every muscle fiber on Hobbs’ body, and that’s a lot of hate.

The two get along together just about as well as peanut butter and antifreeze, as Hamilton and Burr, as Taylor Swift and any one of her ex boyfriends.

But hey, no one ever said saving the world was gonna be pleasant.

Positive Elements

Hobbs & Shaw is all about family—how frustrating it can be but how important it is.

We learn that Hobbs left his own imperfect family years before (and for, it seems, some reasonably good reasons). But he feels the vacancy his estrangement leaves, and he feels bad that his own daughter, Sam, has never met the rest of his family. When circumstances force Hobbs to go home to Samoa, he realizes that it’s time to set aside differences and embrace his family. And his family, in turn, embraces him.

Shaw has his own familial issues. He and his sister were as thick as thieves when they were kids, but their choices as adults estranged them from one another. Their mother Magdalene (who’s in prison herself) longs for them to reconcile. And naturally, the movie’s plot gives them plenty of opportunity to do just that.

Also, there’s this whole saving-the-world thing. It’s good to save the world when you can, and Hobbs and Shaw learn a valuable lesson as they try to do so: It’s a lot easier to engage in some serious world-saving if you operate as a team.

Spiritual Content

Shaw really hates everything about Hobbs, but he especially hates the guy’s face. He tells Hobbs that it’s like “God is projectile-vomiting right in my eyes” when he looks at it. Right before engaging in a battle that pits Hobbs and his Samoan brothers against some bad guys, Hobbs engages in a ceremonial war rally that calls “upon our gods and our ancestors” to give them strength. The virus (which can adapt to an individual’s DNA) is called a “programmable apocalypse”. We hear some passing references to the human soul.

Sexual Content

Hobbs and Hattie are attracted to one another, and they briefly kiss. Action sequences throw them against one another¬—and wrap them around one another—in suggestive ways. Shaw, naturally, is against any sort of hanky-panky between his sister and his mortal frienemy, but Hobbs suggest's to Shaw that, if Hattie shows interest, he’s more than happy to engage in intimate relations with her “again and again and again.”

A woman sports a cleavage-baring top that shows off some serious chest tattoos. A mysterious underworld figure called Madame M exchanges a serious smooch with Shaw. Women wear tight-fitting clothing. Hobbs strips off his shirt. There’s a reference to an incestuous plotpoint from HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Violent Content

To this point, movie producers seem unwilling to cast Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Jason Statham in British period dramas (as entertaining as that might be). As such, neither of them sip much tea here. As Hobbs and Shaw, they instead serve up a steady stream of flying fists, feet and fired projectiles.

It’d be impossible to catalogue every instance of violence we see, but we see plenty of it. Bad guys are taken down with guns, Tasers and historic Samoan war mallets. People are knocked out, tied up and, often, killed. Shaw takes down a few assailants with a cooking pot, fights several others with an unbroken champagne bottle and ties up still more with high-tech tape. He bashes several unconscious baddies up against a retinal scanner (in the hopes of opening a door) and leaves someone dangling helplessly out a window. Hobbs threatens someone with a tattoo gun and finally scrawls a tattoo across the forehead. (“I [heart] cops,” it reads.)

‘Course, Hobbs' and Shaw's brutality is mere game time compared with that of Brixton. He has little regard for human life and sees no problem with shooting people point-blank in the head to clean up his tracks. When a helicopter pilot isn’t piloting to Brixton’s satisfaction, he pushes the pilot out and takes over himself. And when he gets Hobbs and Shaw into his clutches, he rigs them both with an electrical device that sends (obviously) painful jolts through the heroes’ agonized bodies. We see the source of Brixton’s power, too. In one scene, his back is opened up (bloodlessly but rather gorily), revealing the metal spine underneath. Brixton undergoes other painful upgrades or repairs at other times, too. (Clearly, being a cyborg has some disadvantages.) But he’s remarkably resilient—dusting himself off from massive crashes and accidents several times without, apparently, a scratch.

When Hobbs, Shaw and Brixton fight each other, the camera often switches to hyper-slow motion: We see the blows land and their faces contort at impact, spittle and sometimes blood flying in the near stop-motion melee.

Several extras are set alight via a flamethrower. People fall from great heights (presumably dying off camera) and sometimes plunge through glass ceilings. Explosions blow people backward (and may kill people, too). Folks are choked with arms and legs (sometimes into unconsciousness), zapped, thwapped with sticks and batons. We hear that someone stabbed a guy “in the chest with a brick.” (There’s a reference to another brick-stabbing later.) People sport a variety of injuries and wear shirts stained with blood. A woman throws slippers at her boys. A girl is shown preparing to bean a couple of bullies with a cricket bat.

As mentioned, Hattie carries the lethal, if temporarily inert, virus. We hear that the virus, once activated, will “liquefy” her insides. She’s told that if she doesn’t get the virus out of her and safely contained, the only way to prevent its contagion is by killing her (while the virus is still inert) and burning the body to ash. (We later hear rumors of another virus that can “liquefy the outside” of a body, too. We might need to wait for the sequel to see if this is hyperbole or not.) We can assume that some frenetic car chases, crashes and explosions lead to lots of unseen casualties. We hear someone say that guns “killed all my family.”

Crude or Profane Language

The MPAA seems to be loosening its reins on f-words in films. I’d imagine the ratings board has two of those words in its official Hobbs & Shaw count, but that’s cheating. Two characters say the word simultaneously—technically raising the count to three. Then an incomplete f-word is uttered, and a couple of other words could be mistaken for f-words, too.

In addition, we hear the s-word nearly a dozen times. Other profanities and crass language includes “a--,” “b--ch,” “b--tard,” “d--n,” “h---,” “d--k” and lots of crude references to testicles. (We also hear a word play referencing the size of someone’s genitalia.) God’s name is misused nearly 10 times, about half of those with the word “d--n.” Jesus’ name is abused four times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

While Hobbs is drinking down his raw eggs, Shaw drinks beer at a bar. He seems to drink the beverage a lot, though never to excess. When Hattie learns that she will likely die (one way or another) from the virus she carries, she suggests that Hobbs and Shaw join her for a drink. When Hobbs asks Hattie to pour him a “little” drink, she fills the glass up to the rim with whiskey. We see she and others drink beer. A champagne bottle is smashed. Someone swills two shots at once as he walks into a fight.

Other Negative Elements

Sam, Hobbs’ daughter, confesses that she watched Game of Thrones at a friends’ house. We see someone sitting in a toilet stall and hear a toilet flush beside him. There’s a reference to flatulence. Hobbs and Shaw insult each other relentlessly (and often crudely).

[Spoiler Warning] Shaw and Hattie bring their incarcerated mom a cake—cautioning her not to actually eat it. They’re clearly plotting to break her out of prison. We at Plugged In are all about sacrificing for your family, but feel strongly that you should not help family members to escape from the clink, no matter how much you love them.

Conclusion

When the original The Fast and the Furious film squealed into theaters in 2001, it was mainly about stealing and racing cars, not saving the world. And while it was hardly a gritty docudrama, it was fettered in some sort of recognizable reality.

The franchise has morphed into a different machine altogether: Its metaphorical supercar has sprouted wings, a hyper-drive system and a squeaky clown nose for good measure.

Hobbs & Shaw is bonkers—a flick that you're intended to just strap yourself into and enjoy. While it offers some nice messages and some memorable action bits, it doesn’t really make a lick o’ sense. And whatever credibility it might’ve had snaps like uncooked spaghetti when Hobbs—holding a chain attached to a flying helicopter in one hand and a tow-truck winch in the other—yanks the flying helicopter closer in order to hook the copter to the truck. Now, those are some biceps. Honestly, Avengers: Endgame might be more grounded. At least those guys are supposed to have superpowers.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little dumb fun, but Hobbs & Shaw comes with lots of un-fun accoutrements. The violence, though expected, is still frenetic, constant and sometimes rather jarring. The sexual allusions feel not just unwanted, but forced. The language here is particularly disappointing, given how completely extraneous it feels to everything else going on in the plot.

In the end, Hobbs & Shaw feels hobbled by its content. And it may have many families wanting to, uh, shaw this flick the door.

__Hobbs and Shaw both strive to overcome past differences and reconcile with their families. Learning to love your family despite challenges can be tough. Yet working to persevere your family can result in deep bonds and establish lasting connections. The following Focus on the Family resources can help with developing lasting relationships with your family.

Leading Your Family with Love

The Family You’ve Always Wanted by Gary Chapman

What You Can Do to Help Your Child Feel Loved

Building a Christ-Centered Home

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs; Jason Statham as Shaw; Idris Elba as Brixton; Vanessa Kirby as Hattie; Helen Mirren as Queenie; Eiza González as Madame M; Eddie Marsan as Professor Andreiko; Eliana Su’a as Sam; Cliff Curtis as Jonah; Lori Pelenise Tuisano as Sefina; John Tui as Kal

Director

David Leitch ( )

Distributor

Universal Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

August 2, 2019

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

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Teens
Adults
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