[Film Review] Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) 7.3/10


A thoroughly delightful sequel, light on the plot renovation but wigged out in its brimful hilarity and brainwaves.

Baby (Elgort) is a music-loving getaway driver in Atlanta, Georgia,tinnitus-inflicted by a childhood car accident (which rendered him parentless), he is reticent and steeped in the music to fend off his ailment, especially in the heat of his dangerous métier, music is essential in adjusting his judgment and performing those incredible car stunts. He never fails and becomes the mascot of the criminal mastermind Doc (a stern but wise-cracking Spacey), who promises that Baby can go straight when their debt is squared up, and for one blithe moment, that actually happens, where Baby finds a less riskier pizza-delivery job and strikes up a heart-felt romance with waitress Debora (Lily James, personable as ever), until Doc railroads him into taking another job, teaming up with three other criminals, the seemingly congenial but relentlessly lethal Buddy (Hamm, devilish handsome and irrationally elicits one’s trepidation of his denouement), his bombshell wife Darling (González) and a trigger-happy motormouth Bats (a marginally irksome Jamie Foxx), and their plan to rob a post officegoes askew even before it starts. The rest of the story slumps into cliché: conscience mounting, body-count soaring, danger menacing, and also a lesson to those evil bosses who relent in the last minute, don’t!

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The most thankless designation is as always, its antagonist, which falls on the shoulders of Kurt Russell's Ego, the living planet, an idea ingeniously derived from the Boltzmann brain, who is Peter’s biological father, but his transcendence cannot mask the egocentric, self-centered, callous timber befitting a lonesome demiurge, imperiled by immortality and a dearth of empathy, and some infelicity (why slipping up the real cause of death of Peter’s mother when you try so eager to get him on board?).

Apart from Wright’s bountiful aural potpourri (the film’s soundtrack is the bee’s knees), crafty action pieces, sleek camera antics and outlandish humor (the mixtape placement is a gas with great pull of Baby’s emotional state). What makes viewers tick isAnsel Elgort’s amiable leading performance, Baby is a wizard in the driving seat, but exceptionally denuded of conceit (a staple mean streak in Wright’s characters, although Spacey, Foxx and Hamm are all competing for that grail), conversely, Elgort is radiant of his youthful nonchalance, visceral tenderness and a personal panache transcending the common teen heartthrob crush, which fits him as a Hollywood’s rising star and a future mainstay. So, the jury is in, might not be as lenient as those in the film, but BABY DRIVER is a bona-fide asset to dissipate the summer blockbuster lethargy and one must congratulate Mr. Wright forfinally getting his mojo back!

The grand design is Peter Quill aka. Star-Lord (Pratt, whose less tested dramatic aptitude catches up with him when the crunch arrives, pales into playacting compared to Robert Downey Jr., with whom he shares a similar rakish flair in the MCU) to discover his demi-god (with a minuscule g for its humility) origin and comes to terms with his“daddy issues” heightened by a doughty bereavement, thankfully, the rest of the pack is exuberantly driven by rah-rah and esprit de corps, the plot cunningly divvies up some unfinished/new business for them to resolve: the flickering romance between Peter and Gamora (Saldanna); Nebula (Gillan) and Gamora’s sibling conciliation; Drax the Destoryer (Bautista)’s bantering with a new member Mantis (Klementieff), a maladroit alien empath; Rocket (voiced by Cooper) gangs up with an unexpected ally, Yondu Udonta (Rooker), exiled by the Ravagers league, experiencing a foes-to-friends rapport, among others.

Officially becoming cinematic scenester Edgar Wright’s highest grossing film to date and breaks into the 9-digit club in its North American territory, BABY DRIVER, his sixth feature, ebulliently welds his music-savvy retro-flair into an uber-stylized heist drama, and its riveting opening gambit of an adrenaline-rushing car-chasing sequence trenchantly assuages our dread concerning the wind-up of our baby-faced protagonist, as long as he is behind the wheel, he is invincible, and the situation only becomes parlous when he isn’t.

All psyched up to the forthcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, there is some missing link for this reviewer to catch up on, James Gunn’s Vol.2 of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, the most retro-kaleidoscopic, andleast geocentric Marvel enterprise, is a tremendously gladsome popcorn escapade amped up its predecessor’s winning formula.

Baby must save himself from the resultant mêlée and also secure the safety of Debora and his deaf foster father (CJ Jones), with a single-minded villain on his tail who, albeit his unswerving resolution of vengeance, more often than not, opts for talking over pulling the trigger when he gains the upper hand in the cat-and-mouse game, to further aggravate the time-honored chagrin of most filmic villains.

A thoroughly delightful sequel, cunningly light on the plot renovation but wigged out in its brimful hilarity and brainwaves, consolidates James Dunn’s resolution of doing something dissimilar from other more earthbound MCU juggernauts and prior space opera paragons, a franchise finally merits its fanboy’s hot-to-trot anticipation.

referential points: Edgar Wright’s THE WORLD’S END (2013, 5.2/10), SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010, 4.7/10), HOT FUZZ (2007, 7.3/10), SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004, 7.3/10); Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE (2011, 7.8/10); James Gunn’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014, 7.4/10).

referential films: Dunn’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014, 7.4/10); Taika Waititi’s THOR: RAGNAROK (207, 7.0/10).

A new eclectic compilation mixtapeof vintage hits is par for the course, and is set into motion to garnish the action set piecesright from its ingenious opening, which leaves the monster-battling cliché in the periphery and allows a capering Baby Groot (voiced by Diesel) to melt our hearts instead; a mid-point highlight comes with Yondu’s dazzling whistle-arrow massacre, which splendidly wields its visual élan to tone down the scene's grimness; and in the end, it is in the company of Cat Stevens’ FATHER AND SON, that the film reaches its emotional crescendo of both sadness and elation,Rooker is terrific in Yondo’s hard-earned send-off.

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