I know I’m a little late to the party, but this week I finally watched Fate of the Furious. I’d call it ‘excessive’, but that’s not an adjective that quite cuts it. It’s loud, frequently stupid, and on the whole the sort of thing that’d render Michael Bay unable to stand up for at least half an hour after the credits roll without a tactically-placed cushion.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it: resign yourself to a predictable plot, hammy dialogue, occasionally naff CGI and more mentions of the word ‘family’ than any other film in the history of cinema, and you’ll be thoroughly entertained. There are testosterone-flooded fight scenes, massive explosions, many nice supercars, oh, and a damn submarine. Which is somehow faster than all those supercars.
Leaving your brain at the door to watch F8 is an undeniably fun experience. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a car film that doesn’t treat its audience like a bunch of popcorn-guzzling morons? After all, the Fast and Furious franchise seems to be getting dumber and more excessive with every instalment.
Happily, the film I happened to watch the following night - Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver - seems to be the answer. Yes, it’s not strictly a car film, rather a film that happens to have a lot of cars in it. But you could say exactly the same about the last few F&F flicks, during which time the characters have inexplicably gone from street racers, to master criminals, to secret agents.
But where F8 is excessive, Baby Drive is classy and understated. It’s smart where F8 is stupid, witty where F8 is boorish, and has a respect for the laws of physics where F8, well, doesn’t.
That’s not to say it’s dull - far from it. The car chase scenes are utterly stunning, and all done without a whiff of CGI. And the mix of cars utilised is brilliantly eclectic: we see a Subaru WRX STI, an old Chevrolet Caprice and a Dodge Challenger among many other vehicles get thoroughly spanked in Baby Driver’s 113 minute run time. That’s also 23 minutes shorter than F8, a film which rather overstays its welcome.
All this is capped off with a killer soundtrack (with many parts of the film snappily edited to the beat of the music) and stellar acting. I’m not saying you should watch one over the other; these are hugely different films and there is - of course - room for both in this world. But if you’ve grown tired of Vin Diesel blowing stuff up and Dwayne Johnson’s sweaty muscles filling far too much of the screen, I implore you: watch Baby Driver.