REVIEW: Baby Driver
Directed by: Edgar Wright
By Christopher Spencer
Written and directed by Edgar Wright, Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal, and Jamie Foxx. Elgort plays Baby, a music-loving getaway driver who falls in love and must find a way to escape the crime world that closes in around him after everything starts to go wrong.
Baby Driver is a new type of film: the action musical. What does this mean? Well, the protagonist Baby listens to music all the time to drown out his tinnitus. This constant soundtrack then bleeds into the events and action of the film, so everything is timed perfectly to drum beats, bass lines, lyrics, solos, and the change of songs. Baby Driver is thus a fluid film, always changing, expanding, retracting, exploding and resonating. There is honestly nothing like it.
The trailers make Baby Driver seem like a big heist-action-thriller movie, and while it does have incredible car chases and shootouts, the film is more than that. It is all about Baby, his background and who he is interacting with in this claustrophobic world of criminals out to kill him, and the love of waitress Debora (James) that keeps him going.
The film makes sure that you understand who Debora, Doc (Spacey), Buddy (Hamm), Darling (Gonzalez) and Bats (Foxx) are, because they are vitally important to Baby’s story. Ansel Elgort plays Baby beautifully, with charming innocence, crushing anxiety, and an intense devotion when it comes to love. James, Foxx, Spacey and Hamm all steal the film at the best of times, played so well by eternally-talented actors.
Driving everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is Edgar Wright. His stylistic fingerprints are found in every frame, line of dialogue, story beat, choice of song, and character moment. Baby Driver has all the way through what Wright does the very best: frantic visuals, underscored by effective characters made of genuine hearts. Every decision is earned by the story, nearly every character has a real purpose. This is a complete film.
The film has a killer soundtrack, mostly made of songs I’ve never heard (except for a spine-chilling use of Queen’s “Brighton Rock”). It’s shot in masterful colours and filters by cinematographer Bill Pope, and edited perfectly from Paul Machliss and Johnathan Amos. Baby Driver also is shot and set in Atlanta, and the city feels alive, with correct accents and Southern music filling up the soundtrack.
If I can fault Baby Driver on anything it would be that Jon Bernthal is frightfully underused, and the whole movie is just so much. If you are a fan Wright’s previous films, then this fast-paced style is no trouble. But Baby Driver goes in directions and has choices that audiences might not be on board with, and will definitely not expect.
Baby Driver is a wonderful thrill-ride in more ways than one, fusing together action, comedy, suspense, heart, great characters, hard-boiled dialogue, and beautiful images. Baby Driver is electrifying and meticulous, as cool as ice and burning like fire; a film born from the pure love of film.