Saturday, 1 July 2017

"Baby Driver - The Film" - A Review by Mark Barry...


"...Sheer Heart Attack..." 


Opening night Friday, 30 June 2017 and I've just come from the cinema where Edgar Wright's "Baby Driver" absolutely rocked the audience. With so much sub-standard mega-blockbuster cack out there (excepting the fab "Wonder Woman" of course) and more tiresome sequels like Spiderman-Homecoming trying to claw our hard-earned - I haven't seen a movie this 'cool' since "Out Of Sight" with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez electric in their chemistry.

The incredibly smart use of known and unknown music from Carla Thomas 60ts Stax through to 90ts Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has been commented on in every review and rightly so. The opening sequence alone where the lyrics to Bob & Earl's Island Records groove "Harlem Shuffle" playing on his iPod appear in small and subtle ways as he walks to his rendezvous carrying four cartons of coffee is utterly brilliant – turning a credits-sequence into a happening instead of being something that's merely functionary.

There's a pair of tire-squealing four-by-fours doing a duet-battle-sequence in a tiered car park played out to Queen's guitar-wild "Brighton Rock" (the opening song on their 1973 classic album "Sheer Heart Attack") that had many gasping and grinning - a running sequence to "Hocus Pocus" by Focus that will quicken even the slowest heart rate and a gun battle to "Tequila" by The Champs. There's as many as 30 funky and groovy tunes used - T. Rex, Jonathan Richman, Beck, Golden Earring, The Detroit Emeralds and The Commodores to name but a few. And even though I knew almost all of the songs - others will probably not. But that won't matter a jot - you'll be enjoying the high-speed chases and the sheer eat-em-up Tarantino-esque pace of it all too much to even notice.

The cast is perfectly balanced and you have to say that all of them excel. Jamie Fox and Jon Hamm as the hardened robbers/psychos Bats and Buddy have both surely gotten their best parts in years in this film. Kevin Spacey adds the overseeing-mastermind gravitas as the ruthless Doc who has Baby by the emotional short and curlies - while CJ Jones is both touching and funny as the deaf old man Joseph that Baby takes care of at night - a good soul who only wants Baby to be safe and go straight. In what is surely a breakout part Eiza Gonzalez is ravishing as Jon Hamm's squeeze Darling – a super sexy party-siren who isn't demure with a bra or a gun (and God help you if you dis her man). And capping it off is the sheer cinematic gorgeousness of Lily James as the waitress Debora who captivates Baby from the moment he lays eyes on her – a sweet but slightly innocent and vulnerable girl who faces increasing personal hazard because of her new boyfriend's escalating high-risk jobs. He may be 'cool' but should she stick with him for that 2 a.m. rendezvous...

There are believable unfolding back-stories – really witty dialogue scenes – and a mix-tape sequence that will have you smile at its street cleverness. Hell you even have an old lady who’s been car-jacked that gets her handbag and purse back as the bullets fly and the Michelin rubber burns...

And throughout it all "The Fault In Our Stars" Ansel Elgort manages to pull off that elusive cool-yet-funny shtick that's so hard to get right as the principal character 'Baby Driver' (the film and character takes its name from a song on Simon & Garfunkel's 1970 LP masterpiece "Bridge Over Troubled Water"). Baby is a faster-than-a-bullet getaway driver for Kevin Spacey's heists - a kid that will only move to the rhythms of music - his white iPod-leads permanently rammed into his eardrums. Even when Baby's not driving like a reincarnated James Hunt - he walks around all day grooving to tunes to drown out a humming that he sustained in a family accident as a child (a condition called tinnitus). Until one day Baby spots something genuinely exciting in a retro diner - Lily James - a person actually worth uttering words to - a possible future with a smile and a soul as restless as his...

A mash-up of 'Fast & Furious' meets 'Heat' meets 'Out Of Sight' meets 'Training Day' meets 'Ocean's Eleven' – 2017's "Baby Driver" comes at you with attitude, pizazz and the sheer hutzpah of ten Jason Bourne movies.

Fantastic popcorn entertainment and well done to Writer/Director Edgar Wright and all involved...

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