See It Instead: Hobbs and Shaw.
We pull up to the drive-thru window to find three high-octane alternatives to this week’s Fast & Furious spin-off.
Hobbs and Shaw heads to theaters this weekend, so we kick the tires on some other solid alternatives. Our picks will scratch your itch for Jason Statham/Dwayne Johnson action fuel, as well as a classic buddy cop flick for those into vintage pieces. Without further ado, lets roll out before I can come up with more car-themed puns.
Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw.
A super-powered terrorist forces law-dog Hobbs (Johnson) and renegade spec ops operative Shaw (Statham) to team up.
Besides keeping the “&” printing industry in business, this spin-off to the main Fast & Furious series matches two of the most popular new additions in their own vehicle*. Idris Elba gets to chew the scenery as the baddy, and Vanessa Kirby provides a break from the testosterone as the female lead. I’m sure it will feature death and physics defying vehicular mayhem, as well as plenty of raised eyebrows from our two heroes. For those looking for a less pricey ride, check out these used hot rods instead.
*did you seriously think I was going to stop with the car puns?
The Serious Pick: Fast Five (2011)
Perennially on-the-lamb, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) try to evade capture by a dogged lawman (Dwayne Johnson) and a vicious drug cartel kingpin. Having stolen a vehicle with information on the drug cartel’s money, Dom and Brian get a crew together to turn the tables in a daring heist. When both the police and the car thieves lose members of their squads to the cartel’s vendetta, they team up to grab the cash and take down the man responsible.
Fast Five manages to pull off the franchise’s transition from street race/mt. dew commercial to “Ocean’s Eleven with nitrous.” You have all of the machismo and gonzo car chases the series is famous for, while also getting the slick dialogue and twists of a heist movie. While the series continues to be packed with telenovela melodrama and physics defying stunts, Fast Five feels smarter. Well, if not smarter, slicker. Dwayne Johnson makes a perfect foil for Vin Diesel (and later Jason Statham.) It fills a niche that was missing since Walker and Diesel’s characters morphed from rivals into partners. The stunts are solid, with a nice blend of digital and practical effects. All in all, the most complete film in the series, and a nice introduction to The Rock’s character.
The Lighthearted Pick: 48 Hrs. (1982)
When two cop-killers break out of prison, the detective who put them away (Nick Nolte) is forced to parole the only crook who can find them (Eddie Murphy). With only 48 hours till his parole is over, there is little love lost between the fast-talking con man and the law-bending cop. Only the constant threat of becoming the latest victims of the two hardened criminals can keep them from killing each other instead.
Eddie Murphy’s first starring role was a doozy. He would go on to revitalize the buddy cop genre with his Beverly Hills Cop franchise and a sequel to this film. More drama than comedy, the constant bickering between Murphy and Nolte help to lighten the darker notes of the film. Nolte’s character is just barely on the right side of the law and not afraid of abusing his power over Murphy. Both characters defy the usual glib stereotypes of the genre, and director Walter Hill (The Warriors, Last Man Standing) keeps the pace razor sharp throughout. If you’re looking for a dynamite team-up with two characters on other sides of the law, 48 Hrs is a for you.
The Unconventional Pick: Crank (2006)
Chaz Chelios (Jason Statham) is a calm and collected hit man, until one of his marks doses him with a slow-acting poison. Now, the only thing that can keep his heart beating long enough to get revenge is a constant supply of adrenaline.
I’ve talked about all of the spectacular kills in this film for our Deadliest Assassins list. Here, I want to talk about how unbelievably fun the film is. Just like 48 Hrs, the pace is a ticking time bomb that never lets up. Statham moves from one gonzo set-piece to the next, alternating between his usual tough guy persona and an absolutely bonkers adrenaline fueled lunacy. It’s the most fun I’ve had watching a Statham film, mostly because it looks like the most fun he’s ever had making a Statham film. On top of the over-the-top action and stunt sequences, you get a charming rapport between Chaz and his girlfriend, played by Elizabeth Smart. Except for one raunchy scene in an outdoor cafe, they click in a way that helps to endear Chaz to the audience. The use of framing narration and a story that sometimes unfolds in reverse order is bold and well implemented. Crank winds up being as audacious and risk-seeking as its protagonist.