Daniyal Zahid on the latest installment in the FnF franchise

For all the critique that this space has been loaded with for the Lollywood Eid releases, we have to confess that it is encouraging that all three of them are still being screened in multiplexes across the country.

While, of course, this is no benchmark for the quality of filmmaking on display, what is unquestionable is that a sufficient number of people still want to watch them for the trio to still be running two months since their release.

During these aforementioned two months, two other films have simultaneously managed to maintain their presence across multiplexes. We reviewed one of these last week, with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood largely enjoyed by Pakistani audiences alongside the Eid releases. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw has been the second to rule the roost across August and September.

For the casual filmgoer, there are a lot of similarities between Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Hobbs & Shaw. Two popular male leads, masculinity brimming over the screenplay, and cinematography loaded with cars. Of course, among the many differences between the two films would be the kind of cars being showcased, owing largely to the contrasting eras being depicted.

Even though Quentin Tarantino’s cult following has its base in Pakistan, aficionados of the Fast and Furious franchise are similarly densely populated among the filmgoers in our neck of the woods.

But where the question marks over Once Upon a Time in Hollywood were largely owing to the politics of the narrative, with Hobbs & Shaw one can’t even begin to tread those waters, given how redundant the whole point of critiquing an FnF film from that particular lens would be.

The limitations for Hobbs & Shaw perhaps self-manifest in the manner in which this spinoff unravels on the screen, which doesn’t quite have the tautness of the Fast & Furious franchise at its best.

Even so, if you want to get the most out of action stars, there are few better suited to accomplish it than director David Leitch. And that is precisely what he does as the screenplay brings together two of the most celebrated characters from the Fast and Furious franchise: Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).

Hobbs and Shaw quite naturally do not get along, and the friction between the two palpably grows during the early exchanges, only for it to be overcome to “save the world”. Despite being poles apart, the two lead characters manage to unite through their values.

The film explodes from the onset with ante being upped on the action: car chases, trash talk, etc. Johnson and Statham visibly thrive in the setting that has been designed for them by Leitch, who in turn ensures that as far as the action is concerned, the two superstars perform at the optimum.

Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), member of underground military tech group Eteon, and Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), MI6 agent who is the sister of Deckard Shaw, are two new characters introduced in the spinoff. Rest assured Elba and Kirby are at the finest in the two critical roles for the storyline.

The chemistry between the two leads is a positive for the movie, and the writing that is largely designed to lay the foundation for the action to take centre stage, has its fair share of top-drawer humour as well. Another obvious strength is the cinematography, without which the franchise wouldn’t exist.

Having said that, the cinematography might fail to captivate you in the latter moments of the film, given that some of you might find it repetitive. A major reason for that is the running time, which could have been significantly reduced through sharper editing.

After a while, the action sequences might appear to have formed a loop as well, and the only way the same thing would continue to blow your mind is if you really really dig it.

Given that Hobbs & Shaw has made almost four times its budget in less than two months, obviously a massive number of people do dig that!

And while many of those might be Fast and Furious buffs, the fact is that you don’t need to have watched a single FnF film to enjoy Hobbs & Shaw. In fact, the purists might argue that you would enjoy it more, for many of the franchise fans might feel that the spin-off has been a little overcooked.