Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal
Edgar Wright is back baby! (Oh dear, what an awful way to start a review…). Wright’s last film was The World’s End, and even though it had its merits, I felt that it wasn’t quite in the same league as his previous work, yet Baby Driver sees the British director back to his very best. Wright’s fast becoming one of the most interesting directors working in Hollywood today. He only tends to release a film every three years or so, and has only directed movies in which he’s also had a hand in writing.
Baby Driver tells the story of a young and talented getaway driver who goes by the name Baby (Ansel Elgort), hence the title. One of his quirks is that he’s constantly listening to music after having been involved in a car accident during his childhood which left him orphaned and with a severe case of tinnitus.
During his adolescent years, Baby steals a car that unfortunately belongs the mastermind heist planner known as Doc (Kevin Spacey), and he’s has been forced to work for him ever since. Yet, when he believes that he’s finally paid off his debt and meets the rather lovely waitress, Debora (Lily James), Baby discovers that Doc never intended to let him simply walk away from this life of crime. Baby quickly realises that he has to find a way out of this criminal world, yet it’s going to be one hell of a tail to shake off.
Baby Driver is the sort of film that Hollywood doesn’t really make any more. The success of The Fast & Furious franchise might have something to do with this. Wright’s Baby Driver is in many ways back to good old car chase movie basics. Think Bullitt and The French Connection, just done with a lot more panache and a toe-tappingly good soundtrack.
Speaking of the soundtrack, it was obviously one of the most important parts of this project for Wright. He’s spoken at length about actually writing scenes to specific songs, making sure that they matched perfectly. This is an innovative and brilliant way to seamlessly incorporate a soundtrack into a film, rather than just sticking any old pop song in willy nilly (Suicide Squad, I’m looking at you). The music does not only add to the atmosphere, but it becomes vital to the film as a whole. Without it Baby Driver would have been just your run-of-the-mill car chase movie.
It’s also bolstered by a series of note perfect performances from Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, who are all captivating on-screen presences. Foxx in particular demonstrates that he has the ability to be genuinely threatening, something which he failed to do in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Jon Bernthal even delivered a memorable turn, despite only being in the film for a brief period.
Yet, this film was all about Ansel Elgort. He’s quickly showing what a talent he is. Baby has a cocky swagger to him, yet Elgort manages to keep an endearing nerdy quality to the character which means that you can’t help but root for him. I was also pretty impressed by some of the dance moves he pulls off in this film. Ultimately, you really believe him as a music obsessed getaway driver with a bad case of tinnitus, and that’s a difficult thing to do.
Baby Driver had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. The car chases feel real, mainly since Wright insisted on shooting as much of them out in the open as he could, as opposed to doing most them with the help of CGI and green screens, which is the case with The Fast & Furious movies. This adds an extra helping of adrenaline to the mix, which is already heightened by the film’s plot. It could have ended up being a slightly formulaic car chase film, yet it is made so much more than that thanks to Wright’s direction, the soundtrack and the stellar cast.
There’s only one word that can describe this movie: cool. The car chases are thrilling, the soundtrack is incredible, and Ansel Elgort is irresistibly ‘cool’ as Baby.