Review / ‘Baby Driver’ (MA) ***

ENGLISH writer/director Edgar Wright’s first film made in the US explores a delicious collection of diverse themes.

Music. Crime. Romance. Violence. Social conscience. Gun culture. Sociopathic characters. Bad traffic behaviour. And leavening those themes, a generous splash of mordantly-subtle satire and comedy.

Deaf-mute, wheelchair-bound, black American Joseph (CJ Jones) has raised Baby (Ansel Elgort) since his mother’s inattention to traffic made him an orphan.

Joseph is the acme of moral rectitude, uncomfortable about the stash of serious money that Baby is accumulating under a floorboard in the apartment. Crime boss Doc has been exploiting Baby’s masterful ability to drive getaway cars at high speed through traffic after a string of robberies. Baby sings along with tapes of his favourite musos while waiting outside the bank.

Shortly after Doc tells him that a debt has been paid off and he’s free to live his life as he wishes, Baby meets hamburger-joint waitress Debora (Lily James).

Doc commandeers Baby to drive a new gang fleeing with the loot from another heist. That obligation crosses Baby and Debora’s plan to put Joseph into care and head west.

The new gang are an unlovely bunch. Bats is a psychopath. Buddy (Jon Hamm) and his wife Darling (Eliza Gonzalez) are an ethically-deficient, trigger-happy pair. The heist goes bad. The film’s shootouts parody every shootout you’ve ever seen.

Kevin Spacey, whom I last saw suspended by his ankles on stage in Sydney at the end of a memorable performance as Richard III, is malevolence personified as Doc. As Bats, Jamie Foxx gets choice comic dialogue to sprinkle sparkle over some really scary behaviour.

The good guys are few. And the film’s unsung heroes are the guys driving the cars harum-scarum through the streets of Atlanta.

Edgar Wright brought us three memorable British comedies featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End”. What will he satirise next? Waiting for it should be worthwhile.

At all cinemas

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