Edgar Wright is the British director behind cult classics such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. His ambitious, colourful, quirky, playful and imaginative films are geared towards laughs and thrills and Baby Driver is no different. Always unpredictable, fun and visually-compelling, Wright has added a heist thriller to his growing list of shiny, wonderful films. The title Baby Driver, probably should have been Baby, Driver but that would have made too much sense when you consider his appetite for quirkiness.
We follow the journey of Baby, a young getaway driver, who finds himself in too deep after being coerced into doing one last job for a crime boss. Ansel Elgort did a great job in The Fault in Our Stars, turning in a sweet, suave and instantly likable former basketball player. Instead of being an amputee, he’s got another impairment that forces him to listen to music continuously. While the earbuds remain firmly planted in his ears, this affinity to music is a driving force in Baby Driver as it becomes infused with every aspect from the film. The music weaves itself into the film as editing and sound merge seamlessly to create a fresh, zippy atmosphere similar to the anything’s possible mood of La La Land but with fast cars and thugs.
Elgort’s performance makes him a James Dean for the here and now. He’s not as enigmatic or windswept, but oozes cool in his demeanor and go-his-own-way attitude. An unassuming and likable lead, he also imbues a natural warmth. He’s the front man of a strong ensemble including: Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González, Lily James and Kevin Spacey. Hamm and González play off one another as a sex-fueled Bonnie & Clyde, Foxx is the resident tough guy, James is a sweet waitress with a heart of pure gold while Spacey gets to take his Horrible Bosses character underground.
“Yeah, sure… I was named after the Bieber song.”
Baby Driver is a heist movie with action, thrills and style… generating heat through beautifully choreographed car chases, tense drama and a living soundtrack. While it generally goes from 0-60 in seconds flat, there’s room for cruise control when it comes to exploring Baby’s closest ties. His relationship with his foster father is always a charming detour as we get a feel for his childhood, while the budding ’50s style romance gives the film a naive undertone. The nostalgic music is reminiscent of the mix tape from Guardians of the Galaxy, but it has a much more inextricable quality.
Edgar Wright has unfurled yet another suave and masterful tapestry of sound, visuals and dialogue. As a crime thriller it moves with a swagger and furious spirit, which is largely redeemed by the starry-eyed romance at its core. Baby Driver’s full of free wheelin’ moxie and jam-packed with wink-wink fun, adding a fresh dimension to the “one last job” heist movie and making its experimental sound design and editing techniques seem effortless. Edgar Wright fans will appreciate this funky new genre blend, while new initiates will be impressed by the dynamic visuals and swirling blend of music styles that manage to stay on-point.
Baby Driver does go into overdrive as the third act turns into a stairway of climactic highs. While peppered with violence, the intensity is allayed by Wright’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. It does have a few lulls, but these are smoothed over by the film’s varied overriding qualities. If you want to see something cool, punchy and fresh, look no further than Baby Driver.
The bottom line: Wonderful