Tuesday, 20 June 2017

#51 & 58 BABY DRIVER

Starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, LIly James, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx. Written and directed by Edgar Wright. Running time 113 minutes. Certificate 15.

Ansel Elgort is Baby, the fabulous getaway driver with an exceptional talent behind the wheel,  tinnitus and world's greatest selection of mix tapes. Kevin Spacey is Doc, the criminal mastermind behind a spate of bank robberies with a strange hold over Baby. Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza Gonzalez are the bank robbing crew Baby drives to and from work each and every day and Lily James is Deborah, the waitress who offers Baby a shot at redemption and a new life, if only he can live long enough and drive fast enough to achieve it.

This is an utterly exhilarating and, at times, breath-taking bank robbery thriller that hearkens back to the glory days of 1970s crime films like The Driver, The Outfit and Charley Varrick but with a glorious dose of high-octane adrenaline pumped into the heart of it. Edgar Wright's camera never stops and yet never falls victim to the Paul Greengrass school of motion sickness inducing direction. The glorious opening credits alone are a thing of beauty, when the lyrics you're listening to appear subtly in the background. Indeed the whole film is cut so well to the musical beats that this is like watching a 113 minute music video. But that's not meant as a criticism because it's the music that fuels this movie. Every track, from The Damned to Queen via Jonathan Richman, Beck, T.Rex and Danger Mouse is FANTASTIC! And none of them seem chosen by committee, every song has a reason to be there. it's like everything else in this movie, perfectly structured and edited together into an exceptionally enjoyable, action packed treat. And while at its heart this is a sweet little love story between kindred spirits it never feels generic or twee.

This film so very nearly scores a 10, but for the fact it feels as if Wright lets his foot off the accelerator as the film coasts into it's obligatory 3rd act. But that's not a terrible crime because it manages to provide a more than satisfactory final boss level showdown.

Wright shows that as a director of action he is a force to be reckoned with and this film, which he also wrote is just a delight. He claims that what we watch is devoid of CGI trickery and green screen and I tend to believe him, the stunts have all the weight of reality to them that leaves the physics ignoring shenanigans of the Fast and Furious franchise choking in its exhaust.

Where this film feels uncomfortable is in trying to distance Baby's character from the brutal violence of his chosen career as the camera slides away from the actions of Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez's more savage escapades. It's almost as if Wright is trying to convince us that Baby isn't a willing participant in the robbery part of the job, just the driving and as such we should forgive him, he's like Leon in that respect, with his ridiculous assassins code of 'No women no kids' rule. Still, it's only a minor quibble, cos I had a grin on my face for the whole 113 minute ride.

I found this as breath-taking refreshing as the first John Wick movie in terms of re-inventing a tired genre and breathing new life into it. Never boring, never slow and with a fabulous soundtrack to boot! Indeed, this might very well be the movie soundtrack of the summer, if not the movie of the summer.


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