Summer is all about family: the kids are out of school, everyone gets together at the cabin/cottage and the whole season is dripping with togetherness and connectivity with the ones you love. Family is even a staple of big summer movies like Toy Story 4 or Jon Favreau's uber-realistic but emotionally lacking Lion King remake, which highlights both the broader familial interconnectedness of the animal kingdom, but also the roles and responsibilities of fulfilling your family legacy.
But few film franchises take "family" as seriously as Dominic Toretto and the thieves-turned-heroes in The Fast and Furious universe, and that philosophy extends into the franchise's first spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw, the only new release opening this week at the Whistler Village 8.
There were no pre-screenings of this one at press time but in an interview with Cinemablend.com, franchise writer Chris Morgan confirmed, "Yes, you have insane action sequences, for sure. You also have characters acting with a moral code, and family is something that is important to them. The way you make it through your obstacles are family."
What we do know about Hobbs & Shaw is it reprises the chemistry between Hobbs, Dwayne (I still call him "The Rock") Johnson's law-abiding head crusher, and Shaw, Jason Statham's ex-elite military ass-kicker. Astute fans of the Fast franchise (No. 7 on the list of most financially successful franchises in cinematic history) will recall the nimble action and wordplay both actors brought to the prison riot scene during The Fate of the Furious. The odd couple (but not really) are forced to work together after a cyborg anarchist badass (played by Idris Elba) threatens Shaw's sister—and the world!
Expect this one to be fast and furious, funny, far out, and fully coasting on the chemistry and charisma of its leads—two of the most bankable action stars of the past 15 years, with a serious dramatic thespian stepping in to play the heavy. Having David Leitch (Deadpool 2, John Wick, Atomic Blonde) in the director's chair ensures killer stunts, no-BS fight sequences, and (hopefully) just the right amount of humour. Statham and The Rock both have comedy chops, so while this one won't stray too far outside what you expect, it's bound to be a boatload of spectacle, explosions, fun and, of course, family.
Tarantino subverts the family theme by putting the Manson family in his latest flick, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, but even he highlights a familial bromance between Leo DiCaprio's aging-actor character Rick Dalton and his trusty stuntman, Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth—"He's more than a brother and less than a wife," Dalton says, in the flick that is dividing audiences as to whether it's Tarantino's best or worst piece of work.
From where I sit (in the back row), the three-hour love letter to the final moments of Tinseltown's golden age is well worth the price of admission. The plot meanders but with the kind of acting talent Tarantino has assembled (hello Margaret Qualley as the most charismatic underage hippie chick ever), his love and attention to the details of the world he's recreating, and the dude's general mastery of the art form, this flick charts high. Not as high as Inglorious Basterds when it comes to dialogue, character and thematic resonance, but there's also no such thing as a bad Tarantino flick. (Hollywood also gave Tarantino his most profitable opening weekend ever—a US$40.35-million domestic box office.)
On the small screen, Crave has all the seasons of mid-2000s hit Veronica Mars, including the new season just released. It might be a guilty pleasure to watch a teenage girl detective navigate the trials of life, crime and high school in Southern California but Veronica Mars also excelled at the idea of family, with stunning performances by Kristen Bell as Veronica and Enrico Colantoni as her private eye father. Filmmaker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob) is a huge Mars fan who once wrote on his blog, "The tender and witty repartee between these two wonderful actors makes you want to be a better parent." And he's right, this one is worth a re-watch.