Bank robbers have always been celebrated. Likely that's because banks have always been figuratively sodomizing us in the cash-hole and acting like they're doing us a favour. Or maybe we just love an underdog. In any case, Bonnie and Clyde were folk heroes; Depression-era citizens would cook John Dillinger dinner while hiding him from authorities, and who doesn't love the Dead Presidents (from Point Break or Dead Presidents, take your pick).
But if bank robbers are the rockstars, getaway drivers are the crazier, more badass virtuosos on lead guitar. And a getaway driver gets top billing this week in Baby Driver, Edgar Wright's foot-to-the-floor genre mash-up musical that is also the best flick of the summer.
Yes, I've stated dozens of times in this space how much I loathe musicals. But, as Jesus once said, "There's an exception to every rule and all bets are off once the speedometer hits 150." Baby Driver achieves that in the very first scene.
Ansel Elgort (The Fault in our Stars, Divergent) stars as Baby, a young kid with chronic tinnitus who always wears earbuds, doesn't say much, and drives a car like the love child of Frank Bullitt and Furiosa from the last Mad Max. A literal maestro behind the wheel, Baby is the go-to driver for a revolving gang of criminals all working jobs for crime kingpin Doc, as played by Kevin Spacey. Jamie Foxx also co-stars, as a batshit-crazy bruiser named... Bats.
Sure, Baby wants out. Of course, he falls in love. But all that is backseat to what has got to be the most sphincter tightening car-chase film in decades. With a constant hum in his ears, Baby copes by cranking the tunes and hoping the rest of the world gets out of his way. This one is a veritable opera of crime and cool barreling top speed through the streets of Atlanta.
Director Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) opted for real, physical effects and even apparently strapped himself to fast-moving vehicles to get the speed and gravity of his action just right. As well, few directors this side of Quentin Tarantino integrate a soundtrack into their edit and storytelling as effectively as Wright. Baby Driver is a musical for people who hate musicals, but it's also a one-last-job heist flick, a love story, a comedy and the perfect antidote to all the superhero sequels and CGI actioners we've been spoon fed the past few years. Go see Baby Driver if you love movies, hate musicals, or just want to see some rubber burn.
For the actual babies, or any child under nine, Despicable Me 3 also opens this week. The use of popular music doesn't work nearly as well as Baby Driver, but expect more of that candy-coloured slapstick humour little fans of this franchise know and love. It's reportedly the worst film of the franchise, but South Park's Trey Parker steps in as the voice of the new bad guy so that will be a high point. Not much else to get excited about.
Also opening, an aging slacker cowboy-cancer movie starring Sam Elliot called The Hero and a Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler comedy about two dumb parents running an underground casino/strip club/mini-Vegas in the suburbs so they can afford to send their daughter to college. No pre-screenings on this one, which is a bit worrisome, but there should be some laughs, and Jason Mantzoukas looks killer as the buddy with the bad ideas.
Speaking of, Warner Brothers announced a sequel to The Accountant. Remember that one? Where Ben Affleck plays an assassin who writes giant equations all over the place? It's a stupid movie, but actually it's more stupid-awesome. Because who hasn't heard of an autistic hitman bean counter?
This sequel is likely a play on the fact that John Wick 2 was exactly as awesome as anyone hoped (and more profitable). But the more Affleck flounders in the Batman/Justice League flicks, the more I appreciate dumb stuff like The Accountant 2: Take it to the Bank.
And since we're talking banks, and Canada Day is coming up, let's raise a glass to this nation's most legendary bank robbers: Paddy Mitchell, Lionel Wright, and Stephen Reid — The Stopwatch Gang. These cats knocked over an estimated 100 banks and were the rough inspiration for those timed robbery scenes in Point Break. There is no Stopwatch Gang movie (there's at least one in the works) but the definitive book on these cats is the novel Jackrabbit Parole, written from prison by Stephen Reid himself. Bank less, read more.
Happy Canada Day.