Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx
Plot: “Baby” is a young, talented driver who’s skills are utilised by a crime boss who employs him as getaway driver for his various heist crews. Propelled by the momentum of his own personal soundtrack, how long before it all goes wrong?
Edgar Wright is a director for me that can seemingly do no wrong, I have followed his career from my teen years watching Spaced after nights out on the beer, sat round with mates viewing “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” of Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz & The World’s End and being a comic book reader, freaking out that he got the directing gig for the adaptation of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. To say that I am a fan of Edgar Wright’s would be an understatement so I may be accused of going into this review for his latest film Baby Driver a little biased, however, when a film is this well conceived, choreographed and directed, the praise is gonna flow!
Penned & directed by Wright, Baby Driver tells the story of a young man with a freakish aptitude for driving who is in the employ of a crime boss due to running up a debt with him, to pay off his debt he drives getaway in heist crews at his boss’s behest. “Baby” was involved in a car accident as a child that left him with a permanent case of tinnitus, to combat this he constantly has music playing to drown out the ringing in his ears via a selection of iPods to match his mood.
Like Wright’s work prior, Baby Driver is delivered with the visual flair, confidence and conviction of a seasoned, professional action movie director, this is however Wright’s first foray proper into the action genre which makes it all the more impressive. The stunt driving in this film is simply off the chain, at times damn near balletic, its incredible and captured beautifully, all the while set to one of the strongest movie soundtracks I have heard in years. Edgar Wright fully understands the importance of music in film, the music in Baby Driver feels important, it drives the story, no pun intended, being just as integral as any other facet of the production. Be it our introduction to Baby’s considerable talents set to Bellbottoms by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, a heist getaway to Hocus Pocus by Focus or a one on one car duel/ballet to Brighton Rock by Queen, Baby has good taste in tunage. Meticulously selected and presented with what’s occurring on screen in perfectly curated unison, it’s an absolute joy and certainly a soundtrack I’ll be adding to my record collection.
As with most Wright projects the cast is excellent. Ansel Elgort as the titular Baby slays the part, effortlessly cool and idiosyncratic and too good for the world in which he has been dragged into, you root for him throughout the duration, hoping he makes it out the other side. Lily James’s Debora makes for a likeable paramour to Baby, a character with an aesthetic that almost feels as though she has popped out of a David Lynch movie, my one qualm being that she is not given much of an opportunity of being fleshed out other than being a love interest which is a shame. The criminal element of the film is made up of a damn impressive roll call, Kevin Spacey, John Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eliza González and Jamie Foxx, all decidedly dastardly and unlikable, the perfect foils to want to see Baby escape from.
I can safely say that Baby Driver is one of the most effortlessly cool, intelligently written, insanely choreographed and fiercely original action films I have seen in years, it really is an incredible piece of work that shows Edgar Wright is more than capable of handling a big budget, bums on seats popcorn movie and does so in his own indomitable way. This is the kind of movie The Fast & The Furious wishes it could be, a wealth of brains to back up the brawn and more genuine, uncontrived heart than I have seen in the genre in a very long time. Baby Driver is hugely deserving of any praise coming it’s way and I am confident will be a top end fixture of many a best of 2017 list, it will almost certainly be on mine.