There are few directors whose names incite quite the fanboy excitement as much as Edgar Wright. He’s one of only a handful of directors working today whose name alone will get film fans into the cinema and it’s easy to see why. Of the films he’s directed thus far, every single one has been at least great (ignoring 1995’s A Fistful of Fingers). It’s quite telling just how great Wright is when 2013’s exceptional The World’s End is his worst film in the last twenty years. So Baby Driver carries on its back a lot of expectation. And thankfully it lives up to the hype. This is one big fun summer movie.
Ansel Elgort is Baby, a good hearted young man who has gotten mixed up with the wrong people, and now works as a getaway driver for criminals. Due to tinnitus in his ears, he listens to music through his earphones at all times to drown out the noise. Naturally this leads to a film chocked full of tunes. He works for Kevin Spacey’s Doc, the man he did wrong and must pay back. The supporting cast is just as strong with Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza Gonzalez all putting in solid work.
Baby falls for diner waitress Debora (a charming Lily James), and naturally the mixing of his two worlds only causes trouble. To give away much more of the plot would be to ruin the twists and turns along the way. Just know that Wright has more up his sleeve than your run-of-the-mill crime movie. He sidesteps some clichés of the genre with ease, and puts his own spin on others.
Music plays a key role in the movie, with songs playing almost throughout the runtime. There are too many great song choices to pick a single one out. In the beginning there’s a slight fear it will develop into Suicide Squad territory with so much unnecessary music, but that is soon quelled. The music works with the movie (yes in a Guardians way) and it’s the movie soundtrack of the summer.
This is a difficult movie to pigeonhole. It’s not as comedic as some of Wright’s other films, despite the dry one liners from Spacey’s Doc and Jamie Foxx’s extravagant Bats. Taking inspiration from 1978’s The Driver and 2011’s Drive but also movies such as Bonnie and Clyde amongst others, Baby Driver falls somewhere between crime, action and romance. Riffing on these movies of old, Wright, as he always does, manages to put his own spin on them, creating something truly unique. You’ll see little else like it in cinemas this summer.
It’s not as filled with as many stylistic flourishes as one might expect from Wright but it’s still instilled with his usual wit and carries a genuine heart. This softer side is found mainly in the relationship between Baby and Debora, but also between Baby and his deaf foster parent, Joe (CJ Jones), who doesn’t agree with Baby’s actions but sees the good kid beneath it all. Elgort and Lily James must be praised in particular for their on screen chemistry and undeniable likeability. Elgort especially seemed like a strange choice for the lead, but within the opening minute of the movie, everything makes sense as he shimmies his way into your heart.
Many people will be going to Baby Driver for a thrill ride and not to disappoint, there are great action sequences abound. The driving manages to be thrilling and greatly creative. Each of the big driving set pieces has its own unique rhythm and pace to it, and the heists never get old. Go for these moments alone and you won’t be disappointed.
Wright makes sure to add gravitas to proceedings too and this works well, making the sense of threat real. This is greatly impressive considering the somewhat heightened nature of the rest of the movie. And when push comes to shove and the bodies hit the ground, Wright’s love of horror comes to the forefront with some gruesome deaths. He mixes all these genres, and with Wright in charge of this melting pot, it becomes something pretty spectacular.
Baby Driver falls down a little at the end, with an action sequence that goes a little too long and a strange shift in pacing that doesn’t quite work. But there’s so much to like here that these brief stumbles are easy to forgive. Elgort solidifies himself as a great leading man who can be both charming and deadly serious. Wright continues his excellent streak and this one is not to be missed.