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Edgar Wright is a director whose style of filmmaking is something unique to himself. Blending visual aesthetics with black comedy to some really great musical score, his movies are a real treat to watch. I have been a fan of his Cornetto trilogy, especially Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. After a fruitful collaboration with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, he is working with a different cast in his latest heist thriller, Baby Driver. The movie has got some glowing reviews in its early screenings and is all set to release this week in India. I myself got the opportunity to watch Baby Driver in an early show and this is my review….
What’s it about
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a very brilliant getaway driver who works under a dour-faced Doc (Kevin Spacey), helping his men (Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal) escape successfully after robbing banks. After a near fatal accident that killed his parents, Baby suffers from tinnitus that makes him hear noise when there is none. So he has to listen to music always to get his job done. He wants to quit working for Doc, especially after he falls for a beautiful waitress Debora (Lily James). However, Doc arm-twists him into one last job, that goes awry right from the planning stages.
There is one aspect that you can never put Edgar Wright, that is, for his eye for visual aesthetics. Baby Driver could be his most technically brilliant movie, especially with how he has edited the action with the musical score. The action and the car scenes are brilliantly directed with some real stunt work. The opening car chase sequence could be one of the most fantastically shot opening sequences in a thriller movie ever. Be it the choice of song, the action choreography, and the nail-biting chase, the scene marks every box right when it comes to delivering the thrills. In fact, the first 30 minutes or so in where Baby Driver gets its groove right. Baby’s scenes with his deaf foster father are endearing without going overboard. The movie boasts of a fantastic musical score, which could be the best of the year. The cinematography is top-notch.
Coming to the performances, this could be that star turn for Ansel Elgort, that Fault in Our Stars and Divergent series failed to deliver. He quite confidently pulls off a real difficult role, and even in the company of heavyweights, managed to make a great impact. Kevin Spacey pulls off his trademark smarminess as the leader of the pack with a no-nonsense attitude. Both Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx are terrific as the antagonists, while Eiza Gonzalez brings in enough sexual charm and badassery as the moll.
As much as Baby Driver blows you away with its technical aspects, you do realise that under all that glitter and polish is car trunk with a weak engine. There is nothing new to note about the premise of the movie, that you have not seen before. The one last job trope should be something Hollywood should get away with by now. The main driving factor in the movie is the romance between Baby and Debora who bond over their love for music. Though it’s cute, there is not enough meat in their love story for us to feel for their romance as well as be concerned about the danger Baby’s associates have on it. While that’s a huge drawback, the movie’s biggest drawback is that it lacks Wright’s quirky humour. Sure, there are scenes which show some brilliance of that wry humour, like when Baby uses conversations to make electronic musical pieces. But those are far and few, as the movie suffers from an overall identity crisis as to whether to be a smart gangster comedy or a serious heist thriller. Barring for Baby, none of the other characters seem properly fleshed out, and they end up being stereotypes in their mould. Jon Bernthal is criminally underused. The Tarantino-esque kind of climax, filled with shootouts, car fights and grisly deaths, end up being over-stretched and a ho-hum affair.
What to do
Baby Driver is one of the most technically proficient movies in recent times, but it also ends up being Edgar Wright’s weakest movie till date. There is a love story in there, but it lacks a heart. Watch it purely for the slick visuals and Ansel Elgort’s star-making act.
3.0 out of 5
Reviewed by Sreeju Sudhakaran
**** Very good
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