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FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (2019) – My rating: 7.5/10

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (also known as Hobbs & Shaw) is an action film and a spin-off of The Fast and the Furious franchise. The plot follows the unlikely marriage of the Hobbs & Shaw characters introduced in the main series, as they are forced to team up with Shaw’s sister when a genetically-enhanced terrorist and his organization threaten the world with a deadly virus. The film is directed by David Leitch and written by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce, from a story by Morgan.  For me, this was a must-see but soon became more of the same despite one of my favorite actors at the helm.

A crew of MI6 agents from the terrorist organization, Eteon, attempts to retrieve a virus labeled Snowflake, which can be programmed to decimate millions of people. Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), an Eteon operative with advanced cybernetic implants that allow him to perform superhuman feats, arrives and kills all agents except for their leader, Hattie Shaw, (Vanessa Kirby) who injects Snowflake into herself as a dormant carrier and escapes. Brixton frames Hattie as a traitor who killed her team and stole Snowflake, forcing her to go on the run.
Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Hattie’s brother, are both informed of the missing virus by the CIA and are assigned to work together, against their better judgment, to track it down. Shaw leaves and goes to Hattie’s house, while Hobbs manages to find Hattie; after a brief scuffle, he brings her to the CIA office. Just as Shaw then returns, the office is attacked and Hattie is taken by Brixton, who Shaw recognizes as an old colleague he previously shot and killed before he was resurrected by Eteon. Hobbs and Shaw pursue and rescue Hattie during an ensuing car chase. They manage to escape from Brixton, who falls off his motorcycle and crashes through the second level of a double-decker bus, creating an opportunity for Brixton to frame the three agents. Hobbs, Shaw and Hattie manage to locate Professor Andreiko (Eddie Marsan) Snowflake’s creator, who informs them that to prevent Snowflake from eradicating humanity, Hattie has to either be killed or use an extraction device, which is located within the Eteon factory in Ukraine, an almost impossible mission.

Okay, I’ll admit Edis Elba’s character was a little different but the rest of the film was pretty much the same old stuff.  The special effects and acting were brilliant as was the flow of the story.  But how long can Hollywood keep making these types of movies and keep them fresh and interesting?  While they continue to be entertaining, the clock is ticking, something new has got to give.  Series star and producer Vin Diesel first said in 2015 that possible spin-offs were in early development. Hobbs & Shaw was officially announced in October 2017. Hobbs & Shaw has grossed $437 million worldwide and received praise for “the charisma of Johnson, Statham, and Kirby”, as well as its “visual style and action choreography finesse”, though some critics “had trouble getting past just how much the film was attempting to fit into its two-hour-and-15-minute runtime”. Personally,  if you are still thrilled by the Fast and Furious franchise, you will not be disappointed by Hobbs & Shaw.  The very least I can say is that it’s similar to other movies of this type.  I still recommend it — Check It Out!

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017) – My rating: 9/10

I honestly don’t know how they do it.  After seven Fast and Furious movies, they managed to make an eighth one even better than the others.  Dom turns bad?  Now there’s an interesting concept — the main character not only turns bad, he turns his back on the love of his life and the team he calls “family”.  That’s enough, if you’re a follower of the series, to hurry to your local theater and purchase a ticket to see it for yourself.

Director, F. Gary Gray has tied every scene together, giving every character a purpose.  Known for speed, excitement and fast and furious cars, this eighth installment is actually bigger, faster and features a barrage of fast, beautiful, slickly designed cars that would cause the likes of Mario Andretti to blush with envy.  So far The Fate of the Furious has grossed $690 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film of 2017.  An untitled sequel is scheduled to be released on April 19, 2019.

The film opens with Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michell Rodriguez) on their honeymoon in Havana.  Dom gets involved with his cousin’s spat at an auto show and is challenged to a street race by a local racer named Fernando (Janmarco Santiago). This turns out to be one of the most spectacular races I’ve seen because Dom is using his cousin’s beaten up, ancient, piece of car to race in.  I can only say by the end of the race, even I had new respect for Dom’s driving skills.   The next day, Dom encounters elusive cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), who appears to be a damsel in distress.  He tries to give her a hand with her car but her conversation lets him know that she knows him and is not very friendly.  She shows him a device right after telling him that he will now be working for her.  Cipher leaves after giving Dom full instructions as he fully accepts his new role.

SOME SPOILERS BELOW!

Dom and Letty along with team members Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), are recruited by Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to help him retrieve an EMP device from a military outpost in Berlin. During the getaway, Dom goes rogue, forcing Hobbs off the road and stealing the device for Cipher. Hobbs is arrested and locked up in the same high-security prison where he helped imprisoned Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). After escaping, both are recruited by intelligence operative Mr. Nobody (Kurk Russell) and his protégé, Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), to help the team find Dom and capture Cipher.  FYI:  Helen Mirren makes an uncredited cameo appearance as Magdalene Shaw, the mother of Deckard and Owen Shaw.

The whole cast moves to Russia where a long chase, war and shoot out takes place among the teams, which includes the Russians.  Here, there is a lot going on and the fate of the world, the movie and the plot depends on the outcome.  This lengthy scene was a bit much and a little hard to follow because it was easy to lose track of who was who.  The environment was extremely cold and the fight was cumbersome.  This may have shaved a few points off of an otherwise exciting thriller movie.  Charlize will blow your mind — you will probably want to blow hers right out of her head.  I highly recommend The Fate of the Furious. If you’re looking for a thriller, you’ve come to the right movie!

 

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