Fast & Furious 9 – Reviewed By Movie Zilizotafsiliwa Kiswahili

Since I'm a big fan of Dwayne Johnson and since I love the Fast & Furious movies, I had to go see the latest edition, Hobbs & Shaw. Unfortunately, it was a letdown, the plot was weak, there were too many fistfights and not enough chase scenes. My favorite part of the Fast & Furious movies are the exciting chase scenes. So when I was sitting there watching this movie I kept waiting for more chase scenes instead I was watching fistfight after fistfight and finding myself daydreaming. In addition, there were too many scenes of Hobbs and Shaw hating each other and trying too hard to be funny. The audience didn't laugh. There were a few scenes in which Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart were funny, but that was it. Check out the trailer.

There was only one exciting chase scene in the middle (shown 1st in the trailer) and two really exciting scenes at the end (shown in the middle and end of the trailer) that were memorable. My favorite action scene was the helicopter scene towards the end. This movie is two hours and seventeen minutes long emphasis on long. It's in serious need of editing. They need to cut many of the fistfight scenes, add some chase scenes and shorten its length to keep boredom at bay. They also tried to force chemistry between Johnson and Kirby which they should have just skipped. There was no need for a romance in this movie which they didn't commit to anyway, so just edit out those few scenes. I'm not a fan of robots in movies, so altering Brixton into a cyber-genetically enhanced villain didn't impress me. So many of his non-action scenes should have hit the cutting room floor. "We're saving the world" was used too often, it made the lack of a decent plot even more evident and the repetition of this phrase became irritating. It's rated PG-13, it has similar violence and strong language as the previous Fast & Furious movies had.

The Fast & Furious franchise continued this past weekend with the ninth installment of the franchise and first spin-off. I imagine there might be some people on Earth complaining as to why this franchise now has nine movies in it and personally I don't really feel the need to defend that because said human beings are often the same people who haven't even watched a single movie, so nothing I say to them will really matter. However, I will quickly recap my thoughts on the franchise for people who do care. I didn't actually dive into the franchise until 2011 when there was a lot of buzz surrounding "Fast Five." So I decided to catch up. The first one is alright. The second one is very underwhelming. The third one is dumb and pointless. The fourth one gets things back on track and is, again, alright. But yeah, this is a franchise that is very unique because its the later films that have been the strongest. "Fast Five" is excellent. "Fast & Furious 6" as well as "The Fate of the Furious" are a lot of fun. And "Furious 7" is on a whole new level because of how emotional it is in dealing with the death of Paul Walker. I go back and fourth as to whether I like "Fast Five" or "Furious 7" more because they're both great for very different reasons. But yeah, five through eight are all a lot of fun.

Now that they've entered the spin-off realm with this franchise, "Hobbs & Shaw" is the one that makes the most sense because those are the franchise's most popular side characters. Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs is a character that many will claim revived the franchise. I'm not so sure I fully agree with that statement as he's not the only thing good about "Fast Five," which is the first movie he was in, but at the very least he certainly helped as he was a welcome presence. Then they added Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw as the villain of "Furious 7," while forcing him to team up with Hobbs in "Fate of the Furious," and that was also inspired casting choice because the two of them are perfect together. And they also just happened to be two of today's most popular action stars. So yeah, when this spin-off was announced, my immediate reaction was, "Let's do it!" As I've said, I've thoroughly enjoyed the last four movies of this franchise. I love the characters of both Hobbs and Shaw. And I've enjoyed solo movies from both Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, even silly ones like "Rampage" and "Skyscraper" for Dwayne Johnson" and "The Meg" for Jason Statham. So this seemed like a match made in heaven. One that wouldn't be too terribly difficult for me to enjoy.

First, though. I find the box office totals for this movie to be a bit interesting. This past weekend it opened to a solid $60 million domestically. That's probably not the exact opening Universal was hoping for when it comes to the movie's $200 million production budget, but they're not in panic mode yet as the movie had a $180 million global opening that did NOT include China, which it doesn't open in until later this month. This franchise, as well as Dwayne Johnson movies as a whole, are always huge in China. So stay tuned on that. However, I have heard a lot of people that were thinking that maybe this is the direction that franchise goes moving forward as they expected this movie to do just as good, if not better than the main franchise films as they thought Dwayne Johnson was the reason why this franchise got revived and continued to do well. But a $60 million opening throws a wrench into that theory as not only is this a significantly lower than the previous five films, but it's also the second lowest opening when you adjust for ticket price inflation, above only "Tokyo Drift." This performed a lot more like a Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham solo film rather than a Fast & Furious film. That goes to show that the whole crew is more important than some give them credit.

For those who do miss the whole team, fear not. They'll be back in less than a year as "Fast & Furious 9" comes out May 2020, with "Fast & Furious 10" scheduled for April 2021. "Hobbs & Shaw" was just a quick appetizer while we wait for that ninth film. Now I know that Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel have their issues, but my personal hope is that they can either work them out or set them aside so that we can get everyone on board for this next two movies. In fact, as I watched "Hobbs & Shaw," one thing that kept going through my head is that every new character in this movie has the potential to join the main crew. Not only would I like to see the return of both Hobbs and Shaw in the main films, but I also want to see more of Vanessa Kirby's character of Hattie, who is the sister of Shaw. She got so much screen time that the movie could've been called "Hobbs & Shaw & Hattie." And she totally made her presence felt as she proved she belonged in the same action sequences as her two big-name action co-stars, which was impressive. We also had a couple of other characters show up that I'm excited to see more of, but I can't say anymore because they are there as surprise cameo appearances that aren't even in the movie's credits. You have to scroll to the bottom of IMDb's cast listing to spoil it for yourself.

The other major new character that I can talk about is the movie's villain Idris Elba. His name is Brixton Lore and he has a bit of history with Shaw, which I won't dive into, but said history has made him bitter and he's also a genetically enhanced super soldier who has decided that humanity is a lost cause. There's an MI6 virus called Snowflake that he's trying to get his hands on so that he can wipe out millions, leaving only the strongest. In his first attempt to get it, he attacks a team of MI6 agents, killing all of them but Hattie, their leader, as she injects the virus into herself and escapes. Hattie, however, is framed by Brixton as someone who betrayed her crew, killed them all, and stole the virus. So now she's on the run and Shaw is called on to deal with his sister. At the same time, Hobbs is called on from Los Angeles to help, because, well, why not? So even though Hobbs and Shaw are not happy about it, together they team up and realize that Hattie is the victim, not the villain, so they need to come up with a plan to get the virus out of her and destroy it while also figuring out how to stop Brixton, who has called himself Black Superman and is much stronger than both of them combined, which surprises both of them. Even though that's our plot here, if I'm being honest none of it really matters.

I do think it's amusing to look back on the franchise and see where it's come. Something that started off as a street racing franchise has evolved so drastically that the ninth entry in the franchise is about a genetically enhanced super soldier facing off against Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Travel back in time to 2001 and tell that to original director Rob Cohen and I'm sure he'll laugh in your face and assume your high on something. Poor Rob Cohen, though. Instead of continuing to be involved in the franchise that he started, he left after the first movie and is now busy directing movies like "The Boy Next Door" and "The Hurricane Heist" while Justin Lin and co. have turned this into a $5 billion franchise wherein the last two movies prior to "Hobbs & Shaw" have earned $1 billion at the overseas box office alone. They didn't even need to be released in the United States in order to be considered massive successes. And while the street racing elements are still there, this has now just become a franchise known for absurdly ridiculous action sets and sequences. When they decided to turn "Fast Five" into a heist film wherein they robbed a giant safe of money, dragging it throughout the city while an army of officers chased them, that opened up all sorts of possibilities.

I said on my personal Facebook page when I got home from the movie Thursday evening that I didn't really need to post a full review because my quick statement of "So... Hobbs and Shaw. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham went BOOM! and POW! and I'm like... yay!" was an excellent summary. "Hobbs & Shaw" does have hints of the franchise's roots as there's one scene close to the beginning where the three of them are driving in Shaw's McLaren as they try to escape from Brixton, who is on his motorcycle. But outside that, as well as a few other car sequences, the cars are not the focus of this movie. This is a movie that fully embraces the physics-altering absurdity of what this franchise has become. The plot is there to set up a string of action sequences that take full advantage of our two leads' strengths. Dwayne Johnson is a giant, physical presence who is all about brute force while Jason Statham is more about stealth and skill. He's the quick, little ninja who is thinking 10 moves in advance while Dwyane Johnson is just plowing through everyone or holding down helicopters with a chain so they don't fly away. Jumping off a building and landing in a way that would kill any normal human being, yet walking away without a scratch? Of course. Why not? Who cares about physics?

You could say that this movie is a bit exhausting. At 137 minutes, this is a lot of movie. And most of it is just action scene after action scene. When the movie is not focused on action sequences, it's focused on the banter with Hobbs and Shaw insulting each other the whole movie. If you walked out thinking that this is the type of movie that is better in small doses as a part of the main franchise instead of being the subject of a 2 hour 17 minute film, I can understand. I didn't feel the same way. Rather, I was enjoying myself the whole time and laughing at all the banter. There were even a few insults that had be nearly rolling around on the floor. There were times where I felt the length of the movie and my body was wanting to shut down and sleep, but I blame that more on the fact that I saw this late at night after a really long day at work. My body needed sleep, but my brain didn't want to wait any longer to see another Fast & Furious film. So I fought it and paid the price at times during the movie, but overall it was still very worth it. Never did I get to the point where I completely shut down, so the movie did a great job of keeping me awake late at night after getting very little sleep all week. So kudos there. If you're interested in kicking back enjoying some action, this is your movie.

If you haven't seen any Fast & Furious movie, this isn't really the movie you should watch to introduce yourself. Rather, I think you should start with "Fast Five" to see where this franchise ends up, then if you enjoy what you see, go back and watch the first four films. Even though they are much lesser films, they are kinda necessary in order to introduce you to this family of characters that everyone loves. Then you can sit back and be entertained by the sixth and eighth films, while crying with everyone in between with the seventh film. After you've done all of that, then go enjoy some "Hobbs & Shaw." Or you can just go and see "Hobbs & Shaw" anyways. It's not like context is that important in order to be entertained, but it is a more rewarding experience if you've seen where these characters have come from. Just know that if you need all of your physics and your movie logic to make perfect sense, then you're about to dive into the wrong franchise. With "Hobbs & Shaw," if you need a movie where the plot is unique and original or is full of deep themes and intense moments, this is also not your movie. But if you want to go watch Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham punch things and insult each other, then why are you waiting? My grade for "Hobbs & Shaw" is an 8/10.