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Review Catch-Up: Fast and Furious presents, Hobbs and Shaw

Written by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce and directed by David Leitch, “Hobbs and Shaw” is an action film spinoff from the Fast and Furious films chronicling the over-the-top antics of the Fast franchise’s two most memorable antagonists. Forced to work together to save the world from a MacGuffin that could inexplicably kill us all, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) must put their differences aside to track down the deadly super-soldier Brixton (Idris Elba) and stop him from implementing this nefarious plan. Once the duo are on the hunt they run into Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent on the trail of the very same viral MacGuffin and ends up injecting it in her own body to get away with the super-weapon. As you might expect, the movie is a loud, dumb, and highly entertaining series of action set-pieces with some vehicular mayhem thrown in for good measure.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are the reason to see this movie. Period. Their charisma, banter, and one-liners are pitch perfect and thoroughly entertaining throughout the whole runtime, no matter how massively stupid the plot or action sequences get (and trust me, they get VERY stupid). Vanessa Kirby was a pleasantly surprising addition to the cast offering, providing some solid action performing and that touch of heart you may need to remind you that you’re still human while watching this one. Though, admittedly, Hobbs’ scenes with his daughter (Eliana Sua) are damn cute, if fleeting. Charisma and Machismo are the fuel for this movie and everybody knows that, which is why I was overjoyed that Idris Elba let his performance as Brixton go so far over the top that it seemed appropriately cartoonish at times. Which is apt- this movie is an adult cartoon essentially, these super spies and international security agents are not men- but super heroes in suits and leather jackets. At least the movie is evidently self aware of it’s own absurdity- which forgives a LOT of it’s flaws and faults, for me anyways.

While the paper-thin (what are they doing again?) plot to save the world from imminent destruction may not be the most engaging, that’s not why anyone came to see this movie- at least it shouldn’t be. It’s all about the spectacle, set-pieces, and humor. If you enjoyed the older, but equally absurd, action movies of the 1980’s like “Commando”, “Rambo: First Blood Part 2”, “Robocop”, or “Top Gun” then you’ll likely get a kick out of this one. However, I must note that even a few of those movies I referenced have plotlines that are smarter than this one. There’s also a few fun surprise cameos that I won’t ruin for you, but they were delightful and perfect additions to this series.

The final act is a a complete mess when it comes to any kind of continuity. The final fight in Samoa has sequences of abject darkness in the early morning, to a raging storm, or a sunny day depending on the emotion they’re trying to convey for the shot. I have to say it’s absolutely ridiculous, but by this point they’ve earned the complete disregard of all reality. Whatever, I have no expectations of logic or physics at this point in the film series, I just want to be entertained with this completely fun and dumb guilty pleasure. While this film resides within the larger framework of “The Fast and Furious” world, I wouldn’t be surprised if this pairing became a franchise itself- I’d certainly go see a few more outings with these two powerhouse stars. There’s even rumors that Keanu Reeves may join a sequel if one musters up enough interest, and to that possibility I say, bring it on.

Final Score: 1,000 punches and 1 fist bump

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Review: Rampage!

Written by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan Condal, and Adam Sztykiel and directed by Brad Peyton, “Rampage!” is an adaption of the arcade video game of the same name in which three giant monsters wreck a bunch of buildings. This movie is a giant monster B-movie with a budget that is as stupid as it’s concept. By now you’re probably sure whether or not this type of movie will work for you. While I enjoyed some of the action in the later half of the movie, most of it is mired by incredibly cringe-worthy dialogue and gigantic leaps in logic when it comes to the main characters’ problem solving abilities. Well, let’s dive in shall we?

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The only relationship this story is concerned with is that of primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson) and George, a large albino Gorilla at the Santa Monica Zoo. So, it’s good that this relationship actually works in the movie because almost everything else is either acted far too cartoonishly, or with a transformers level of ignorance. However, the third act is a good time- even if there is absolutely no regard for human life whatsoever. So the (very) basic premise is that an evil company, whose generic name you’ll never remember anyways, was funding science experiments on a space station that blew up due to the volatility of said experiments (their purpose? who knows) which resulted in three vials cascading down to North America and landing in Wyoming, Florida, and Southern California. These vials mutated the animals that interacted with them first and therefore we have three giant mutated animals running around causing all sorts of havoc. As you can imagine, one of those animals happens to be George the albino gorilla. There’s also a wolf, and an alligator. Eventually the Cartoonishly evil villains in Chicago, Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy as the Wyden siblings, decide to activate a low frequency beacon to draw the beasts to downtown Chicago so the military can kill them and they can salvage some of the mutated DNA for future evil-doings. Davis Okoye travels with the unnamed government agency that took George for study, he also brings along Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a genetic editing scientist that used to work for the evil company. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by Joe Manganiello as a gruff military badass who’s only there to be eaten by a giant wolf. What a waste.

12-rampage.w710.h473 I have to admit, Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems to have been having a great time portraying Harvey Russell, the agent leading the unnamed government agency. His southern drawl is comically amusing throughout his time onscreen and he seems to be the most self aware character in acknowledging this very, very, dumb movie he’s in. However, dumb can be fun, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll get it in “Rampage!” One such example that caught me off guard completely was when the chaos is unfolding in downtown Chicago (a city I’ve lived in) and the military is picking up movement in the Chicago river as the leading personnel seriously says, “That’s odd, we don’t have any submarines in the area..” I mean, really? You don’t say? No submarines in Lake Michigan huh? Well isn’t that just the oddest thi- OH MY GAWD IT’S A GIANT CROCODILE!

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If the film wanted to add even an iota of depth to the story they could have chosen to actually follow the source material’s only nugget of storytelling by having the origins of the three monsters be humans that are mutated into the destructive threats instead of animals. That might be asking too much of this movie though. “Rampage!” can be fun at times, but it’s also incredibly dumb, the script is one of the worst I’ve seen in years. There’s lots of brazen assumptions, low brow humor, and aggressively stupid character decisions that go hand-in-hand with their cardboard thin characterization. However, if you’re willing to completely shut your brain off for a big dumb monster movie, this might work for you.

 

Final Score: 1 Kong, 1 Zilla, & 1 Werewolf