It’s August, the height of summer, and that means it’s time for the season’s traditional tent pole action movies. , the new spinoff starring Idris Elba, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vanessa Kirby, and Jason Statham has just reached the cinemas, and to say I’d been looking forward to catching up with the franchise’s latest is an understatement.
The Rock is Luke Hobbs, an “always gets his man” type working for the US Diplomatic Security Service. Statham plays Deckard Shaw, a former British spec-ops fellow. Both characters were introduced in previous movies as antiheroes, but after teaming up—kind of—in 2017’s , the forces of destiny (or the writers) have thrown them together in a buddy movie.
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, but there’s a McGuffin, and Brixton—played by Idris Elba—wants it. He wants it . The problem is, the McGuffin has been injected into Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie Shaw, MI6 spy and Deckard’s sister. Obviously neither the Shaws nor Hobbses want Brixton to get his hands on the McGuffin, and the story goes from there.
It’s not groundbreaking stuff. Director David Leitch is not re-writing the rules of narrative cinema. The film is formulaic. But it’s a formula that’s proven to work in the past, and it does so again in . This is a movie with a lot of action. A . Ignore complaints that the trailer gives the movie away—in films like this the plot is merely something that keeps us moving from fight scene to set piece to fight scene to set piece. Oh, and because it’s a film, there’s the occasional bit of wholesome positivity about the importance of family or working together as a team.
Hobbs and Shaw bicker at each other throughout the movie. It’s wonderful. The Stath appears at times to reprise his Rick Ford character from , and we’ve seen the Rock crack wise in everything from to , so it’s no surprise they’re both great at it here. Kirby succeeds in holding her own; refreshingly the movie avoids the damsel in distress trope. Elba’s performance is less humorous, but that’s OK—he’s the bad guy. And there are some great supporting actors, including Eddie Marsan, Ryan Reynolds, Hellen Mirren, and Cliff Curtis.
Are there car chases? I like car chases.
Did I mention there was a lot of action in this movie? It’s a jam, so obviously a lot of that involves car chases. Without giving anything away, let me say that many Range Rovers died to make this film. There’s also a McLaren 720S that gets a little scraped up, but that’s OK because we see that Deckard Shaw has several more where that one came from. Plus a Mini Cooper that he strongly infers he used to conduct .
Actually, we do get to see where the McLarens came from because McLaren’s Disney-meets-NASA HQ shows up, too—only it’s been relocated to a remote part of Ukraine where it’s functioning as the nerve center for Eteon, the evil organization that Hobbses and the Shaws are trying to stop.
Finally, a word of warning, and this is important: if you want to enjoy this film, . I’m serious—thinking too hard about any of it will just bring the whole edifice crashing to earth.
If you’re going to be bothered by unrealistic depictions of bionics, biotech, cars that are bigger on the inside than the outside, how hand grenades work, how jumping out of tall buildings works, the logistics involved in getting the same MH-60 helicopter from one side of the planet to the other, transforming electric motorcycles, or a chain of hot rods and customs trying to drag a helicopter back to Earth using just one pair of wheels, then you will probably not enjoy this film.
On the other hand, if you’re content to sit back for 135 minutes and just , I’m confident you’ll get your money’s worth from .