This summer, John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum stands as the gold standard in immersive cinema. The Hobbs & Shaw 4DX experience comes in a close second. Perhaps it has more action, but Keanu Reeves' renegade hitman has more genuine heart, which makes some of the punches hit a little harder. That said, The Rock and Jason Statham bring big brawls and a lot of fireworks to what is essentially a 2 hour and 16 minute rocket ride into the stratosphere.
The Fast and the Furious franchise has always been a roaring theme park ride for the eyes, and these outings never take themselves too seriously. If you don't have fun watching Vin, Dwayne, Michelle and the rest of the crew roll around in the gravel, I can't help you. It's escapist fast food at its finest, turned up at full volume. 4DX was made for the Fast and Furious saga. I can't imagine seeing it any other way.
Though I did. Days before strapping myself into this rollicking roller coaster of rapid fire free falls and gut punches, I found myself watching Hobbs & Shaw for the first time in a standard 2D theater. Never mind the reasons why, but watching Deckard Shaw and Luke Hobbs roll with the punches in a stationary, upright position, I realized I have begun to crave the 4DX experience. Perhaps I'm becoming addicted.
Or perhaps this type of movie actually benefits from being able to kick the living shit out of you. Just like John Wick, the seat punches, stabs and shoots you all the way through to the end. But having seen the movie in 2D, I'm able to point out a few scenes that absolutely benefit from spending that extra cash at the box office.
First, the story. Is that even important when it comes to a Fast and Furious movie? I've seen them all leading up to Hobbs & Shaw. Aside from the spectacular stunt work and.a few key set pieces, I'd be hard pressed to tell you what any of them are about. And definitely not by which sequel. The same rings true here. We get a quick and easy set up, that amounts to as much exposition as you get from Hondo Ohnaka before you step on the Millennium Falcon ride at Galaxy's Edge.
There is a rogue virus that will turn humanity's insides into soup. Quite literally. Shaw's sister is carrying it around inside her body. Hobbs and Shaw have to team up to get it out of her, save the girl and the world. And all the while, they are being chased by a shadowy organization who has their very own 'black superman' that they can deploy at will like a pity-party prone Terminator. This sets the stage for plenty of car chases, fist fights, and shoot-outs all leading up to one big moment where The Rock pulls a helicopter out of the sky with his bare arms.
The sum of its parts is pure Six Flags adrenaline-fueled theme park ride sold at one hundred percent. And it almost certainly needs 4DX to full accomplish its mission. This isn't Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a movie that would not benefit from rocking hydraulics at all. It's a different type of cinematic achievement. Tarantino brings highbrow art, food for the soul and mind. Seen in this type of environment, Hobbs & Shaw could be considered art, too. It's subjective and completely on the other side of the table. It's food for the gut and muscles.
A few of my favorite moments that totally floored me in 4DX that I didn't give a second thought to while watching the movie in 2D? First, there is an opening credit sequence that shows Hobbs and Shaw in split screen. We watch their daily routine. These are very different gentleman striving for the same goal. Two astrological signs that clash in compatibility. The Taurus (Dwayne Johnson) and the Leo (Jason Statham), which actually happen to be two very incompatible birth signs and it shows on screen. They have the same mission, only they go at it very differently.
Their standard morning run soon turns into a nighttime hunt for answers. They know the virus is loose, and they want to find out who has it. So they each go to a nightclub on opposite sides of the globe. They both get into huge rumbles. And they both have different means of getting the job done. We feel every kick to the chest, every punch to the jaw. And while that is enjoyable in 2D, there is something more visceral about getting to swing with the fists and move with the feet. Staham's Shaw is using a Champagne bottle to assault his assailants. At the end of the melee, he tosses the bottle on the ground, it shatters, no big deal in 2D. A very forgettable moment to be sure.
But in 4DX, when the bottle hits the ground, you get blasted in the face hard. It's water, but it sure feels like a bottle of champagne just exploded in your eyeballs, and it adds a whole other dimension to the fun and thrills found packed tight in this trunk full of roadside explosives. That's a small thing when looking at the big picture. But having watched in both 2D and 4DX, that particular moment stood out.
Another big 4DX moment that you might not expect to be so enthralling when seen in a standard issue theater is the interrogation scene. Idris Elba has Hobbs and Shaw chained to their chairs, ready to electrocute them. Standard issue torture scene in any give action movie, right? But here, you get to feel each and every shock given to our two heroes. You're not fried to a crisp, and it's basically a big fat joy buzzer for your butthole. But it makes the moment way more exciting. For a few seconds, you get to live in these characters' shoes.
Those are just a couple of things that caught me off guard, having experienced 4DX before. There are plenty of big moments you know damn well are coming. One of the major selling factors has been pushed home in the trailers. We watch Hobbs and Shaw scale down the side of a building, in pursuit of Brixton. Here, it comes tagged with a vertigo effect, a free fall that allows you to experience what it's like to scale down a skyscraper. It's described in the 4DX literature for the movie as 'encapsulating motion, vibration, wind and even the back tickler capturing the stomach turning feeling of speeding down the sheer face of a building at top-notch speed.' I think they oversell it a little. I was really looking forward to this particular moment. I was a tad underwhelmed.
But, on the flip side of that, there is an immediate car and motorcycle chase that follows. And it's a banger. The whole thing ends with Brixton getting shot through the side of a bus, and you literally feel like you were there by his side through the whole ordeal. It could almost be described as being locked in a washing machine on final spin, high cycle.
The pamphlet for Hobbs and Shaw comes with a lot of promises. For the most part, they deliver. Especially when trapped in an environment like a Fast and Furious spin-off. Here are some of the highlights the movie offers by the truckload.
- 4DX captures the intensity of hand to hand combat scenes as you feel every punch, kick, tackle and slam with motion, vibration, back impact stimulator and leg tickler.
- Feel like you're along for the ride in the intense vehicle sequences featuring motorcycles, helicopters, and speeding cars where you can feel the whiplash from the speed with the seats motion, vibration, back impact stimulator, leg tickler and bottom air gusts - careen through the air and streets, feeling all the swerves, turns and 0 to 100 break neck motion.
- The 4DX slow-motion effect leads the audience through an adrenaline pumping chase sequence going from high-octane speed to gasp worthy slow-motion moments as the seats heave, pitch and roll motion and vibration, to the moment where suspense is suspended in time.
Everything you read here is pretty much the truth. Don't hold it as gospel. Sometime the 4DX experience can be oversold. But then there are the moments you don't expect, which take you by complete surprise and sell the whole enterprise home. If you want a further breakdown of what you'll get for that extra ticket price, here's a further break down.
- Additional 4DX Effect enhancement details
- Bullets - strobe light, strong vibration, and heave motion put you in the middle of explosive gun fights
- Explosions - warm air and fog bring the heat and lingering smoke of the explosions right into the theater
- Samoan breeze - feel the cooling tropical wind surround you
- Get caught off guard with some Champagne poppin' and canister explosion moments as the face air + water add a fun level of surprise
- Embrace the rain gods in the Samoan rainstorm - (those who don't want to get wet can easily opt out from their seat)
- Feel the villain's cybernetic enhancements kick in as the seats vibration make your skin feel like it's alive.
My theater never has the water turned up high. I thought perhaps this was how it was, but I've heard reports of other theaters where you get drenched. There is an option to turn off the water, but why would you ever do that? Some of the effects seem to be turned up at different volumes depending on where you've decided to sit, or time of day. Each 4DX experience has been unique on its own. Thus far, I have not been disappointed. Except for maybe the first thirty minutes of Spider-Man: Far From Home, where I forgot I was even sitting in a 4DX theater. But that was more the movie's fault than the operation at hand.
So far, I have seen John Wick 3, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Hobbs & Shaw in the 4DX Experience. From those titles, you can pretty much guess which type of movie works best in this environment. Every time it's been a blast. And I highly recommend seeing Hobbs & Shaw at a 4DX theater if you have the chance. It's definitely worth it, and if you haven't been before, this one will sell you home. It's not as brutal as John Wick, but there's nothing like getting beat up by your theater seat. Best part of all, you'll never be able to tell if the person behind you is kicking your headrest. Heading into Hobbs & Shaw's second weekend in theaters, you can find the closest 4DX screen at regal.com.