5 August 2019

Better Than Shakespeare?

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The trailer to Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw played at the cinema the other day and I heard a couple of teenaged boys exclaim that “these films have gotten too stupid now”. “Err.. no. Actually, you've gotten too stupid now, you fucking little dweebs” is what I screamed back at them with the power of my mind. This franchise started as a flat-out rip-off of Point Break but in which Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze had been replaced by a couple of bargain-basement understudies. It wasn't until the fifth instalment in which The Rock arrived to kick the doors off the franchise that it finally evolved from something tediously dull and into something enjoyably so. The stupider the films became and the more stubbornly oblivious Vin Diesel remained to the fact that he was now in a comedy, the better they seemed to get. In the way that a shark can smell a drop of blood in a mile of ocean however, it was only a matter of time until the scent of this dumb action comedy would attract the attention of Jason Statham. He entered the series by murdering one of the key members of the lead gang before being locked up in a maximum-security prison for attempting to kill the rest of them. But it's all good because they're all cool now.
Attempting to keep track of the character arcs and various plot threads of this series is like trying to keep the Zodiac killer as a pen pal and then realising that he might also be fucking dyslexic. I haven't got a fucking clue what's going on but none of that matters now because The Rock and the Stath have teamed up to fight crime alone. Buddhism attempts to teach the importance of living in the moment which is clearly how these films have been written with what's going on rarely having any relation to where things have been or what's about to happen next. When finding out about this planned spin-off, original Fast And Furious star Tyrese Gibson published an emotional tirade in which he made it pretty obvious that if it was up to him then the movie wouldn't be happening. Luckily for us however it wasn't up to Tyrese Gibson who then went on to blame his outburst on a reaction to the medication he was taking and the fact that he's a Capricorn. I guess the medication hadn't fully worn off at that point either. Hobbs and Shaw are forced to team up for reasons that don't really matter after Idris Elba's bad guy Brixton decides to start causing some shit. The plot here is basically the same as Mission: Impossible 2 but if it had been recited by a toddler on cocaine. Oh, Idris Elba's Brixton also has a metal skeleton like the Terminator and can dodge punches like Neo because, at this point, why the fuck not?

I read an interview with director David Leitch in which he explained that Brixton wasn't always going to be what the character refers to as the “Black Superman”. I suppose if you'd only seen the first Fast And Furious film then finding out that the current villain is like a cross between Luke Cage and a transformer might seem like a bit of a fucking leap. But after careful consideration, it was concluded that no human on Earth could act as a realistic threat to both The Rock and the Stath and so superpowers were introduced. That works for me. Send these fuckers back in time for all I care so long as nobody lets Vin Diesel in on the joke. I have to say though that this was an incredible idea if only for all of the slow-motion fighting that takes place as a result. Because of how fast Brixton is we get to see him, Hobbs and Shaw, take punches to the face with the camera slowed down and the results are truly glorious. Do you know that genre/brand of porn known as 'beautiful agony'? Me neither, obviously, but the fight scenes in which The Rock, the Stath, and Elba, all grimace and gurn in bullet-time are like a beautiful agony tribute to the lost art of beefcake action cinema. You don't realise how weird Jason Statham's head is either until you have the time to properly stare at it in slow-motion. The Rock and the Stath spend the movie bickering in true early-90's buddy-cop movie-style and yet at no point does The Rock point out that the Stath's head is like a light bulb wrapped in cock skin.

David Leitch also went on to say in that same interview that the technology in the film that's used to empower Elba's Brixton isn't too far away from reality and is “literally like five minutes in the future”. I guess he's got to say that to convince the fans of the dull first movie to still believe in this superior sequel but he's obviously talking shit. At one point we see Elba sat on a table with his back spread wide open and a pair of robot arms working on his metal spine. If this is only five minutes into the future then expect a lot less to get done soon as most people inevitably use their pneumatic limbs for wanking and nothing else. Leitch, however, is the best action director of both this franchise and The Rock and the Stath's career so far. Leitch was a stuntman that co-directed the first John Wick, before moving on to Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2 which is obvious when you consider that virtually every other cast member has been on one of those three films. The movie airdrops actors in to do nothing more than their schtick as though firing a precision missile of comedy that hits the funny bone each time. I used to think it was funny when something ridiculous would happen and then Vin Diesel would hug the entire cast, look to camera, and deliver and earnest monologue about family. It turns that out it's just as funny to give cameos to actual comedians too.

And speaking of letting people do their schtick, that's exactly what the film does with The Rock and the Stath who bulge and strain their way through the movie like a dick being slammed in a car door. With their big bald heads, it's fun to finally see the shaven twins in a big-budget movie that understands their appeal. Coincidentally 'the shaven twins' is what one of my friends refers to his testicles as although it's my understanding that they haven't made it into a blockbuster just yet. After the film was over the friend I was seeing it with, (as in a different friend and not the owner of the shaven twins), described it as, “everything that (he) could possibly want from a film”, which goes to show that all involved have delivered what their audience is after. He did also go on to say that it was “better written than Shakespeare”, but I'll leave it to you to decide whether that's a compliment to the film or a damning indictment on the educational system. I agree with him in both cases though with this film being the most fun that you can legally have in a cinema and the action indisputably better than Shakespeare's Henry V. Unless there was a scene in Henry V in which one of the lead fights a small army with his Samoan brothers by swinging a club around as though he's fucking Sauron?

The chemistry between The Rock and the Stath is also off the charts and more believable than any love story that Shakespeare could conceive. Romeo And Juliet might have died for each other but I don't believe in love until I see two people bicker to the point that they're both on the verge of fucking murder. In honesty, I only stayed for the post-credit scenes because I assumed it would be the two men violently bumming each other and I was curious as to how bad their sex-talk one-liners would be. Would they go so low as to have him shout, “Do you smell what the Rock is fucking?” Because I was pretty confident that they would. In The Fast And Furious, the lines are funny because they're delivered with such a straight-face despite being total shit. In Hobbs and Shaw however, the jokes are funny because they're terrible and yet delivered by two men whose tongues couldn't be further in their cheeks. At one point the two are bickering so heavily that I thought The Rocks eyebrow was going to fly the fuck off as the Stath scowled so hard that his face seemed to turn into a literal anus. If you can think of a better use of cinema as an art-form than making two big men pull funny faces and make terrible jokes then clearly you're a smarter person than me. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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