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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Film review: Kingsley and Hopkins shine in Autobahn

The real fun of Autobahn is watching Kingsley and Hopkins deliver two of the more off-kilter performances of their careers.
Anthony Hopkins, left, and Ben Kingsley in Autobahn. Photo by Tom Trambow
Anthony Hopkins, left, and Ben Kingsley in Autobahn. Photo by Tom Trambow


Director: Eran Creevy

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, ­Felicity Jones, Anthony ­Hopkins, Ben Kingsley

Three stars

A British B movie set in Germany, with protagonists from the United States, Autobahn is a curious melting pot of influences. The trick is not to take it too seriously; rather, sit back, strap in and enjoy the high-octane action and faintly silly plot.

The director is Eran Creevy, the ambitious writer-director who went from his micro-budget debut Shifty to the bigger scale cops ‘n’ crooks drama Welcome to the Punch, a film that aimed to be a London-set answer to a Michael Mann movie.

Autobahn has similar aspirations, and there’s no doubt the driving sequences match anything you’ll see in a Hollywood film. Nicholas Hoult plays Casey, an American drug dealer living in Cologne. He works for ­Geran (Ben Kingsley), an eccentric Turkish gangster who is introduced to us, extolling the virtues from the John Travolta/Jamie Lee Curtis movie Perfect. Things change when Casey falls for ­Juliette (Felicity Jones), who says she will only date him if he gives up his life of crime.

Casey duly obliges but when Juliette discovers that she’s ­desperately ill and needs $200,000 (Dh734,580) for a life-saving kidney operation, he only has one choice: go back to the life he left behind. ­Reuniting with Geran, he gets embroiled in the dangerous drug heist, which soon pits him against Hagen Kahl (Anthony Hopkins), a notorious German druglord. Cue a series of high-speed chases that truly set the pulse racing, as Casey tries to stay one step ahead.

The vehicular stunts are ­fantastic, with Hoult tearing up the German freeway and cars flipping, skidding and rolling. But whether you’ll buy Casey’s ability to out-run his would-be captors will probably depend on whether you left your brain in neutral. Credit Hoult, who ­manages to turn his ­amoral criminal character into a ­likeable everyman (more than he managed with his vile ­record company exec in Kill Your Friends), despite having little to work with in the script by Creevy and co-writer F Scott Frazier.

While a dyed-blonde Jones does gamely with another ­thinly-sketched role, the real fun of Autobahn is watching Kingsley and Hopkins ­deliver two of the more off-kilter ­performances of their careers. It’s pure pulp, but it’s hard not to warm to these two warhorses going overboard (particularly when Hopkins breaks into a Sylvester Stallone impression). Maybe their work won’t end up on a career-best show-reel but it has cult appeal written all over it.

Published: March 22, 2017 04:00 AM


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