DeLorean: Back From the Future (2021) - 7/10
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Most people know the name DeLorean from Back to the Future. The brand of car that Doc Brown turns into a time machine. Back to the Future is a wild ride. So is John DeLorean’s story. He’s the man behind the machine, a maverick visionary bastard of a man. Already a wealthy and connected in the US car industry, in the late 70s Delorean decided to build his dream car for the future... in Belfast. He’s a guy obsessed with cool, with image and lifestyle. Plastic surgery, trophy wife. He’s a bit of a prick. Suffocated at General Motors, he strikes out on his own... sort of. This is all constructed with a dizzying array of archive material and talking heads. Tight and snappy with split screens and a wide ratio... it too wants to be cool... and to be fair is! There’s some lovely motion graphics, using a blueprint look, it’s playful and very effective. Whoever has cut this (I didn’t check) has done a great job. DeLorean comes off as a chancer really. Interesting ideas, but really only the germ, no meat on the bones and not enough money to build his futuristic car. The US market perhaps sceptical, he finds himself in Ireland where it seems there’s more excitement... until it’s discovered that his ‘firm orders’ are anything but. With Ireland pulling out, Northern Ireland steps in. For the life of me I can’t work out why, it seems like an act of oneupmanship in the midst of The Troubles. Utterly bonkers!! But they build a purpose built factory in no mans land between Ireland and Northern Ireland. With a workforce of mixed Protestants and Catholic’s, which it has to be said is quite remarkable and probably the only positive in this impending clusterfuck. There’s a bit of back story. DeLorean’s Hungarian immigrant parents settling in Detroit. Uninspired by his fathers life as a labourer, he wanted more... much much more! He wanted the American Dream. So at the start of the 80s he starts to build on that dream. Spending money he’s got from the British government to build a car, on anything he wanted... but not really the car. In fact it’s clear that he’s not a clue how to build a car, making promises no one can keep. Enlisting Colin Chapman of Lotus he hoped Chapman’s genius was going to turbo charge production. Built on a Lotus, the Delorean should’ve been awesome, but the arrival of Chapman spells the beginning of a messy power struggle between too many egos. In parts it paints DeLorean in a positive light, loving husband, good father, a good designer and it tells the story really well. But that’s only one side and this is choppy, jumping around with events at varying points in his life, slowly unravelling the reality that he was only ever concerned with status. I’d have thought that aside an iconic 80s film, one that mocks his car, DeLorean would be all but forgotten. What’s most interesting here though is not the car... it’s the spectacular implosion of the man and the company he’d built. That’s not to say the Irish workers built a lemon, the car is undeniably iconic and given the time, a staggering achievement. Given more time, better management and Thatcher not getting involved, things might’ve been different. Not to say it was an engineering masterclass either... often the doors wouldn’t even open from inside. Couple that with unforeseen set backs that a US recession brings and it’s free fall time, with a fast and funky music bed, as the whole thing turns into a sequence from Oceans Eleven... with a bleaker outcome. It may as well be the plot of a Hollywood film, with FBI busts, drugs, embezzlement, porn barons. It’s nuts... and quite sad. Not for DeLorean, but for those left in his wake. Great looking car though and a great doc.