Director: Edgar Wright
Run Time: 112 minutes
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, et al…
Plot (taken from IMDb): After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
Edgar Wright’s latest is about as cool and slick as you’re gonna see. Baby Driver is a visual tour de force that effortlessly flows from scene to scene. While it may not be as hilarious as Mr. Wright’s other films, it offers something of a culmination of his directorial style. This is a passion project for Wright and that passion comes through in every single shot.
We follow the plights of driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort), a young man who lost both his parents in a traffic accident, and gained tinnitus, at a young age who has spent his life driving and listening to music. Indeed, Baby spends most of his time with one of his many iPods plugged into his ears, with a soundtrack for every aspect of his life. You know those people who walk through town with earphones in all the time, that you have to walk around? Yeah. He’s totally one of them. As a teenager, Baby stole a car that belonged to crime boss: Doc (Kevin Spacey). Ever since, Baby has been Doc’s getaway driver for bank heists, slowly but surely paying back his debt.
We enter into the film at the beginning of Baby’s penultimate drive for Doc’s group. It’s a dangerous heist and Baby’s passengers are just as dangerous. Griff (Jon Bernthal), Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González) are wary of Baby (a narrative that continues throughout the film) and his ability to pay attention because of his iPod. What we see however, is a marvel of visual and sound editing that not many other films can match. Every beat of each song is important to Baby. He moves, acts and most importantly, drives in perfect time to the song of his choice. At times Baby Driver can feel like a super slick musical with its little dance routines, but they never start belting out tunes of their own instead of speaking, so don’t worry.
Only Baby is in on the movements of his music for the most part, however, and Wright had some fun with him annoying those around him when walking down the street and buying coffee. Baby’s soundtrack is our soundtrack, too. We are treated to many wonderful moments where the music and visuals combine to create something magical. Bullets flying in time to Tequila, peanut butter being spread at just the right moments. This kind of visual flow is what Edgar Wright does best, helped in no end by his masterful director of photography, Bill Pope and lead editors Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss. If Baby Driver doesn’t win Academy Awards for editing and sound mixing come February 2018, then it will prove that there isn’t any hope for the world.
There is a visceral sense of the film’s soundtrack in every shot, and it really brings Wright’s vision to staggeringly exciting life. The soundtrack has plenty about it, too. There’s a real hodge-podge of tastes on show here, but each track adds its own level of cool to the film. Yes, Baby driver is one of the coolest films you will ever see. Each line of the air-tight script is there to push the flow another step forward. It’s like a fantastically written tragedy, comedy and love story all written to the beat of a rap. Baby’s story is one of hardship and grief, but Debora’s (Lily James) love is there to finally give him some happiness outside of his music and driving. The trouble is, Debora acts as a catalyst and along with Bats (Jamie Foxx), Baby finds himself in more danger than ever.
The film is easy to follow and effortlessly flows from plot point to plot point, but Bats is one of the best “turd in the punch bowl” characters you’ll see in the cinema this year. This man is violent, willing to kill and a severe danger to everyone he finds himself around. Baby is warned that he’ll have to get blood on his hands sooner or later and Bats provides the change in his driving that he wasn’t expecting. You see their heists become more random in nature, and Baby even has to restart a song at one stage to get back in the groove. Bats works really well as a dramatic shift in the film’s plot and gives another spark to a film that will leave the hairs on your arms standing on end.
Along with all the fantastic editing, cinematography and script you’ll find that no actor misses a beat. Kevin Spacey as the smart, but quietly powerful Doc is spectacular, Lily James plays the love interest very well and Jamie Foxx is incredible as the evil douche, Bats. Ansel Elgort, however, deserves a special mention as the film’s quiet protagonist. He barely speaks, but whenever he does, you’re in for a treat. He perfectly surmises the cool of the film and is extremely animated when he wants to be. Everyone in the film delivers a great performance and they all looked like they were having fun when making the film – typically a good sign. Watch out for the awesome Flea cameo, too.
There’s a lot to love about Baby Driver. While it may not be as funny as Edgar Wright’s other movies, it is by far the coolest film he has made. Remember the scene in Shaun of the Dead where they were smashing a zombie with cricket bats in time to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now? Imagine this, done better, throughout a whole film about bank heists and getaway driving and you get the picture of what Baby Driver is all about. It’s visuals are the boldest of an Edgar Wright piece to date, too. The bold colours of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World are here, but they pop more – particularly towards the film’s end. There is joy to be found in the movement and style of Baby Driver beyond just about anything you’ll ever see.
Let Baby Driver take you for a ride, it’s really worth it.