First Hit: A real waste of time to sit through this confusing, nonsensical story.
Granted, there are moments of out-loud laughter, but it is mostly a poorly constructed film and story with little focus or value.
It begins confusingly with a group headed by Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 field agent, and a small group of people breaking into a building and/or a truck of some sort to steal a 4-inch glass vial that has some liquid in it. This vial is protected by some computer lock which Hattie is hacking so that she can free and take possession of the jar.
Then, she is attacked by Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a former rogue MI6 agent, who is part human, part machine. He and the computer entity he represents want the substance in the vial as well. Lore wears a black armored suit that looks similar to the Black Panther suit and rides a motorcycle that bends and does odd things. He is being controlled by a machine that has installed parts into his body that allows him to be strong, quick and analyzes possible punches thrown at him so he can deflect and counter punch. Brixton appears to enjoy these powers.
During the initial scuffle with Hattie, Brixton and his two fellow motorcycle riders manage to kill most of Hattie’s team but fail to get the vial. Hattie has managed to insert the contents of the vial into her body. The liquid materials are supposed to melt the internal organs. I never figured out why the contents didn’t make her insides mush.
Meanwhile, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a federal agent working for DSS, is contacted by CIA agent Locke (Ryan Reynolds) who convinces Hobbs he has to go to London and help retrieve this deadly vial of substance. He says OK and makes a point to say he always works alone when Locke says he’ll be teamed up with someone.
At the same time Hobbs is being recruited, so is Shaw (Jason Statham), a former British Special Forces assassin-turned-mercenary. We know Shaw had no love for Hobbs because of a previous encounter when Hobbs jailed Shaw in LA.
When Shaw goes to a prison to visit his mother Queenie (Helen Mirren), we learn that Shaw’s sister is Hattie. During this visit, Shaw and Queenie talk about how Queenie wants Shaw to reconcile with his sister.
When Shaw and Hobbs discover they’ve been teamed up together to recover Hattie, the drug, and to neutralize Brixton, the never-ending competitive macho conversations begin and only to predictably cease at the end of the film. Yes, some of the dialogue is funny, and some of the sight gags are clever, but mostly the setups are ridiculous and the action stupefying.
The film does try to make it personal and heartfelt; Hobbs getting closer to his Samoan family while introducing his daughter to her relatives, and Shaw reuniting with his sister and then, together, seeing their mom in prison.
But the action and heartfelt stuff is pressed, makes little logical sense (like stringing 5 cars and trucks together to pull down a helicopter), and quite frankly wasn’t interesting or exciting. However, what confused me the most was; if this stuff in the vial was supposed to turn someone’s insides to mush and the vial contained enough to threaten the world, why wasn’t Hattie affected by putting the entire vial into her body?
Johnson was his typical self in that he’s gregarious, charming and depends on his brute strength and muscles to solve the problem. He’s the same here, and it is good enough. Statham is adequate in his role of using more brains than brawn but ends up using his brawn trying to show up Hobbs. Kirby was one of the best characters in this film. I enjoyed her the most, but this bar was a low hurdle to clear. Elba was mediocre in this role. It seemed to depend too much on the technology that was inserted and really didn’t allow for a character to emerge. Kevin Hart was a joyful interlude because of his small role as an air marshal on a plane Hobbs and Shaw were on. He asks them to allow him to join their team, and I immediately thought of Joe Pesci’s role as Leo Getz in the “Lethal Weapon” films. But alas they didn’t follow this route. It could have made the movie funny. Reynolds’ brief role was right and probably the only other part that I enjoyed in this film. His sarcastic way of delivering his lines is always fun to watch. I don’t understand why Mirren took this small role. Chris Morgan wrote this ill-conceived screenplay from his own story. David Leitch did what he could, but this film was stupid on paper and as wrong on the screen.
Overall: Ill-conceived and poorly executed, this film just doesn’t work.