RELEASED: August 2nd 2019 DIRECTED BY: David Leitch WRITTEN BY: Chris Morgan & Drew Pearce PRODUCED BY: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Chris Morgan & Hiram Garcia MUSIC BY: Tyler Bates STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba, Helen Mirren, Eleana Sua, Eiza González, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis, Ryan Reynolds, Rob Delaney & Kevin Hart
Hobbs & Shaw follows Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Statham) from the Fast & Furious franchise, as the pair attempt to stop a technologically advanced cult, fronted by technologically enhanced mercenary and self-proclaimed “Black Superman” Brixton Lore (Elba). When Shaw’s sister and MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Kirby) procures a virus that Brixton is after, the pair must attempt to work past the fact they hate each other and team up to protect her and stop the super-powered terrorist.
I’m not a big Fast & Furious guy. I’ve seen 2, 6, 7 and half of three, and while I’ve enjoyed them all for the most part, it’s not a franchise I heavily anticipate the new releases of. I won’t look into the story, the cast, and creative teams; I’ll just see them if I see them.
But the trailer promised an amusing ride, and by the end of this frenzied action blockbuster, I wasn’t surprised to see ‘Directed by David Leitch’ flash up on the screen as the credits rolled. Throughout the film, I was impressed by the slick action beats that perfectly meshed the the brutish strength of Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs with the cunning agility of Jason Statham’s Shaw, with unique and dynamic fighting styles thrown in for the super-spies played by Vanessa Kirby and Idris Elba. You’d expect no less from a former stunt performer/coordinator such as Leitch.
RELEASED: October 24th 2014 DIRECTED BY: Chad Stahelski & David Leitch WRITTEN BY: Derek Kolstad PRODUCED BY: Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Michael Witherill & Eva Longoria MUSIC BY: Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick & Willem Dafoe
John Wick: Chapter 1 is the explosive debut of the John Wick franchise; the third entry of which is in cinemas now. The film follows the titular retired hit-man after some punks steal his car and kill the dog his deceased wife left for him, and he is forced to get back in the game and get his revenge – racking up a sizeable body count in the process.
When I first watched John Wick, I went in with no expectations after randomly picking it up for £3 one morning after work. My positive opinion of it has remained with me ever since and prompted me to go see the second film, which I also enjoyed. With John Wick: Chapter 3 now in cinemas, I sat down to watch the film again for the first time in three years, this time with my action-cynical girlfriend in tow, to see if she would join me at the cinema. The end result, whether that be due to me seeing it through her eyes, or me just taking more of it in, is that this film is perhaps not as good as I’ve been thinking it was for the past few years.
The strength of John Wick comes from the trio of star Keanu Reeves, and the two directors, Chad Stahelski and (the uncredited) David Leitch. When it comes to action, Reeves immerses himself in a role, doing his best to do as many of the stunts as he can, and making sure he’s an expert in whatever action style he’s portraying. Similarly, Stahelski and Leitch are former stuntmen, who have experience working on action films with excellent choreography such as Captain America: Civil War. Here, as they make their directorial debut, you can see them bringing all that excellent stunt knowledge and style to the director’s chair(s), and the result is some beautiful action sequences.
The choreography is immense, and watching Reeves’ John Wick mow through his attackers with his ‘gun fu’ fighting style is gripping and visceral. The locales these fights take place in often make what you’re watching vibrant and alive, and so scenes like ‘the club’ section of the movie really shine and stick with you.
But outside of that, this film is a bit lacking. The story is simple (but admittedly poignant), and the script is not so great. While there are some funny lines, the dialogue is mostly quite weak, with awkward lines and a lot of (as Rachel pointed out) people just saying each other’s names. It’s meant to show that Wick is well known amongst this assassin’s community, and it works, but it also makes you feel like the action is wholly the focus (which it is, pretty much) at the expense of the dialogue. Of course, how well this dialogue comes off is also affected by the actor delivering it. Keanu, in true Keanu style, straddles the line between the amusing, detached assassin, and a hammy mess of a man. Ian McShane, conversely, brings a lot of gravitas to his lines, as he hints at potential set-up for the sequel, while other characters, like Palicki’s Ms Perkins or Nyqvist’s Tarasov, unfortunately, can’t make the weird lines they have to sprout feel genuine. Not necessarily their fault though.
Ultimately, John Wick is a great action spectacle in the first half, full of colourful shots and excellent action, but falls down as soon as you start to look too closely. The excitement also starts to drop off in the third act, as the rather short runtime still somehow seems to drag on.
RELEASED: May 15th 2018 DIRECTED BY: David Leitch WRITTEN BY: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds PRODUCED BY: Simon Kinberg, Ryan Reynolds & Lauren Shuler Donner STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand & Stefan Kapičic
I’m kind of glad I didn’t actually re-watch Deadpoolbefore going to see this film (I had written that review a few years back, and after a few edits it seemed like a timely point to restore it), like I did the various Marvel movies before Infinity War and the Star Wars saga before The Last Jedi, because I feel it would probably have lessened the experience.
Let me just level with you before we get into this properly; working at a cinema, I dreaded the release of Deadpool 2 because it would no doubt encourage a bunch of underage kids to try and sneak in – a bunch of underage kids who, being underage, don’t have I.D., which, let me tell you, is really ruddy annoying. And when people feel entitled to see a film (of all things, seriously!) which they can’t due to age restrictions, it can bring forth the ways in which certain members of humanity are either extremely annoying, or in short, dirtbags. This may or may not have had an affect on my experience, as I feel I didn’t quite enjoy the film as much as fellow audience members. But I digress.
Deadpool 2 sees the return of, you guessed it, Deadpool, who has broadened his scope and become somewhat of an international hero. But after certain circumstances lead him into a complicated relationship with a young mutant called Firefist, Deadpool realises he can’t save the world alone, and decides to form a ‘super-duper-fucking-group’ (that line doesn’t make it to the actual movie, unfortunately) to protect Firefist from the time-travelling killer known as Cable.