July 15, 2017

Steve McQueen’s infamous car chase, as steel-faced San Fransisco detective, Frank Bullitt inspired a whole generation of filmmakers to replicate a similar kind of intensity, in regards to the 10-minute sequence iconicised in Peter Yates’s 1968 classic. Though efforts by Danish filmmaker, Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, 2011) and other filmmakers have come close, none boast the sheer energy and originality of Edgar Wright’s latest picture.

Though set in present day Atlanta, the film conjures up a seamlessly cool aesthetic reminiscent of a time when Buddy Holly dominated the music scene and Kennedy’s ‘New Frontier’ presented an idealistic vision of freedom and hope for people of all walks. The film’s protagonist is Baby, an effortlessly sharp getaway driver embroiled in the affairs of the criminal underworld; played by Ansel Elgort, his charm is undeniable as he navigates through elaborate heists with unparalled finesse, and a smooth southern drawl. We follow him as he tries to leave behind his life of crime, in pursuit of a fairy tale ending with love interest Deborah, played by Lily James.

Wright’s tautly written script brims with darkly comic elements and  features a fresh take on played out hallmarks of the silver screen i.e forbidden love, diner rendezvous and the “one last job” that never manifests. Snappy dialogue and an amalgamation of genres that last featured in Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) are augmented by crisp performances by Kevin Spacey’s monotoned ‘Doc’ and Jon Hamm’s turn as the unhinged ‘Griff.’

In an age where action films are almost saturated with CGI, and highly stylized car chases are commonplace, the director maintains a kind of purist approach to the film, opting to use only practical effects for the getaway scenes. Tight editing that overlays classic hit songs with sharp swerves and winding turns keeps movie-goers at the edge of their seats. While it triumphs in the effects department, the film also displays real heart. Baby’s schoolboyish looks and moral fortitude, despite unpleasant circumstances, give his character an appeal that his troubled backstory serves to reinforce.

What Wright does differently from other filmmakers is that he fearlessly incorporates a variety of characteristics from other types of films, resulting in a triumph that spans across genres; the musical element, where a dynamic rock-and-roll soundtrack propels the plot, is also quite unconventional. A pulp atmosphere that balances a contrast between grit and intimacy places the feature in a class of it’s own. The exhilarating action setpieces and trace of romance suggest that the newest addition to Edgar Wright’s filmography may just be his best.