BABY DRIVER (R13, 109 MINS), DI­RECTED BY EDGAR WRIGHT,

Clutha Leader - - BALMORAL VETERINARY SERVICES -

Edgar Wright’s ‘‘Cor­netto Tril­ogy’’ of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End are three of my favourite come­dies. Pe­riod.

They stand end­less view­ings. And the stand­alone, un­der-rated

Scott Pil­grim vs The World has had me in a cult of one ever since I first saw it.

There’s joy in that film, a Juno- meets- The Ma­trix goofi­ness and a deep un­der­stand­ing of the places where comic books and films can in­ter­sect that makes me grin just sit­ting here think­ing about it.

But ‘‘here’’, now, is a quiet bar in the shadow of Myr­tle/ Broad­way sta­tion, in Brook­lyn, New York. The car chase in The French Con­nec­tion was partly filmed right out­side this place. For me, this is hal­lowed ground. And that’s kind of the prob­lem.

Edgar Wright’s new film –

Baby Driver – is a car chase movie. He’s tried to im­bue it with some of Shaun and Hot Fuzz‘ s real-world, lo­ca­tion-spe­cific com­edy, and some of Scott Pil­grim‘ s car­toon­ish daffi­ness; all in the ser­vice of a screen­play which is try­ing to pay homage to the car-chase and bank-heist golden age of the 1970s. It’s an un­wieldy mix. And it just doesn’t work.

Baby Driver is set in present day At­lanta, Ge­or­gia (Ge­or­gia has one of the United States’ most gen­er­ous tax re­bate schemes for film-mak­ers).

Baby (Ansel El­gort) is a preter­nat­u­rally gifted driver whose debt to crime lord Kevin Spacey means he is the only per­ma­nent mem­ber of Spacey’s ro­tat­ing team of stick-up artists.

Over the course of a cou­ple of heists, the core of the gang – Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza Gonza´lez – be­gin to frac­ture, mostly over the lengths Foxx’s homi­ci­dal ‘‘Bat’’ will go to. Ev­ery­thing goes ter­ri­bly wrong. As it must.

Com­pli­cat­ing Baby’s sit­u­a­tion is the fact that he has fallen in love with Deb­ora (Lily James), a wait­ress at a lo­cal diner.

Baby Driver just doesn’t know what film it is from one scene to the next. There’s a cutesy, dorky teen rom-com un­fold­ing in the diner, but it’s welded to an in­creas­ingly blood-soaked se­ries of armed rob­beries acted out by psy­chopaths.

Wright got away with a sim­i­lar John Hughes-meets-John Woo mashup in Scott Pil­grim by set­ting the vi­o­lence mostly in a fan­tasy al­ter­na­tive re­al­ity.

But Baby Driver doesn’t have that get-out and the on-screen mix quickly shat­ters our credulity and good­will.

An ob­vi­ous com­par­i­son might be True Ro­mance. But that film was based around a cou­ple of cred­i­bly tough and dam­aged kids. Noth­ing in El­gort’s per­for­mance as Baby hints at any real steel in his spine. And while Deb­ora never gets to do much at all but hang around wait­ing for Baby to call, True Ro­mance‘ s Alabama (Pa­tri­cia Ar­quette) fought mafia thug James Gan­dolfini to the death armed with noth­ing more than a dunny lid, a can of hair­spray and a corkscrew. The com­par­i­son is kinda damn­ing.

Wright is get­ting a lot of praise for stag­ing the car chases with ac­tual cars and stunt driv­ers. And that’s fair enough. Af­ter the mu­ti­lated pix­els-as-cars of the Fast and Fu­ri­ous fran­chise, it is re­fresh­ing to see real metal on screen.

But the chases never achieve any­thing like the vis­ceral grit and threat of a French Con­nec­tion, Bul­lit, Ronin. I walked into Baby Driver want­ing, maybe even ex­pect­ing, to see a film that – like ev­ery­thing else Wright has made – would be the stuff of a fu­ture cult. What I got was a film that was try­ing way too hard to be cool. And as ev­ery­body knows, there’s noth­ing less cool than that. – Graeme Tuck­ett

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