The new film from Edgar Wright, Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, an incredibly talented getaway driver working to pay off his debt to crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey), providing escape getaways for various bank jobs, accompanied by a constant stream of tunes that he plays to drown out his tinnitus. When he meets charming young waitress Debora (Lily James), Baby is more determined than ever to get out of the game but Doc is unwilling to let go of his “lucky charm” and Baby finds himself forced into a dangerous heist alongside the ruthless Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza González) and Bats (Jamie Foxx).
A massive part of Baby Driver is its soundtrack and even at the halfway point of 2017, it is surely going to end up being the best movie soundtrack of the year. Dominating almost the entire film, we have some excellent, memorable tracks from the likes of Lionel Richie, Queen, Focus, Golden Earring, Sam & Dave, Barry White and, God bless Edgar Wright, he even got some R.E.M. in there! Maybe it’s all a bit too much, but the song choices are perfect and each track is specifically selected to tell the story of a certain scene. There’s a fun opening credit sequence set to “Harlem Shuffle”, featuring some very cleverly placed graffiti and there are certain moments later on, particularly during the big job, when the onscreen gunshots synch up perfectly to the beat of the track being played – the work of a master craftsman!
When I hear of a new Edgar Wright film, one of the first things I think is “Well if nothing else, the editing’s bound to be top-notch” and Baby Driver certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard; unsurprisingly, the editing is crisp, slick and quick – perfect for an entertaining action film such as this. Wright’s overall direction is exemplary, the car chases are expertly staged, the film is colourful and the costume design is very appealing. Plus, there’s just the right amount of violence used; it is used sparingly but when it occurs, it is bold, uncompromising and truly shocking.
It’s also worth mentioning that Baby Driver has a scene involving a gun deal gone wrong that results in a huge warehouse shootout. Sound familiar? Yes, this particular scene got me thinking of Free Fire and how much better this film did with that one scene than the whole of Free Fire did for the entirety. This particular scene in Baby Driver is frantic, relentless, energetic, crazily edited and the bullets go here there and everywhere – exactly what I wanted Free Fire to be. Tequila!
Technically speaking, there isn’t too much in the way of story here – it’s a simple premise and it doesn’t go overboard. But there’s always something going on to hold our interest, though I admittedly zoned out a little bit during the early Baby/Debora scenes, and the story keeps on being intriguing, the actors bringing it all to life admirably. It’s really everything you could possibly want from a trip to the cinema – the action scenes deliver, there’s plenty of fun character interaction, plenty of well placed, endearing humour and the “touchy feely” scenes don’t lay it on too thick, contributing to an overall well balanced film. The scenes in which the crew members are compelled to stay with each other overnight also brilliantly provide an air of menace, uncertainty and paranoia and in addition, the final act is frantic, unpredictable, full of danger and there are plenty of twists and turns that leave the audience genuinely unsure of where it’s all headed.
As for the cast, they’re all a highly charismatic bunch and throw themselves into their roles well. With his Han Solo jacket and confident, swaggering nature somewhat akin to Ryan Gosling’s Driver, Ansel Elgort is a fine lead and holds his own against the seasoned, big name actors; at the beginning, he does well being the cocky, swaggering, mysterious driver, essentially dancing his way through the opening scenes but later on, he witnesses the true horrors and danger of the bank jobs, getting a much needed dose of reality as he realises that its no game and innocent people get hurt as a result of his actions. Elgort conveys the character’s inner turmoil very well and overall, Baby is a very likeable protagonist since he’s awesome at what he does but he also truly cares about people and tries to do the right thing.
In addition, Lily James is a charming love interest, Kevin Spacey is expectedly cool, calm, collected and sinister as head honcho Doc, Jon Bernthal puts in a brief but effective appearance as utter d-bag crew member Griff and Jon Hamm is, as you would expect, impossibly smooth and charismatic as Buddy, getting to work his Don Draper magic with the ladies and appearing as both a likeable, supportive companion and then later on as a dangerous, threatening, relentless force to be reckoned with. And Jamie Foxx . . . well after Sleepless, it looks like he’s back on the top of his game here as the unpredictable Bats.