In a summer full of franchise movies and mediocre sequels, Baby Driver is nothing short of genius, a hyper kinetic, music-infused, symphony of destruction. Edgar Wright has assembled an all star cast and strewn them across a beautifully stylised heist thriller.
Ansel Elgort’s Baby is our almost silent protagonist. Orphaned in car crash as a child, Baby listens to music constantly to drown out his tinnitus. After stealing a car he shouldn’t, Baby is forced into getaway driving for bank jobs, by Doc, a mysterious criminal (Kevin Spacey).
Baby spends his time between jobs creating songs mixed with secretly recorded audio clips from his criminal work and dancing, oblivious throug the world around him. Oh and falling in love with a beautiful waitress named Debora. Or is it Jonathan? Either way she’s played by Lily James channelling Madchen Amick, uncanny how much she looks like Amick’s Twin Peaks’ waitress Shelly Johnston . James is charming and her relationship with Baby is pure Hollywood and I loved it.
Like a mix of both Ryan Gosling in Drive and Kevin Bacon in Footloose , Baby owns the screen and Elgort really steals the show. When you’re acting alongside Kevin Spacey, John Hamm and Jamie Foxx, that’s pretty good going.
The mix tapes are a handy metaphor for the movie. You’ve seen it all before, but never chopped up and mixed like this. Every bullet hits the beat of a song, every door slams to a drum, Wright using his trademark editing to stunning effect. Remember in Wright’s own Spaced how drugged up bicycle courier Tires would dance to music made from everyday sounds? It’s like that, but to the Nth degree. It’s truly breathtaking. The soundtrack is chosen masterfully, Wright combining the right song for the right scene perfectly every time.
The ensemble cast adds a level of pedigree and weight that makes Baby Driver just feel solid. It’s Baby’s story but everyone else has enough quirkiness or depth to be memorable. Its a world I’d liked to have spent more time in, so hopefully we will get some prequel comics or blu ray extras. Wright did this with Shaun of the Dead so fingers crossed.
Every character has a cool code name, Hamm is Buddy, Foxx is Bats, Spacey is Doc, Eliza Gonzalez is Darlin’. Randomly, Flea, bassist with Red Hot Chili Peppers pops up as Eddie No-Nose, formerly Eddie The Nose. There are a few great gags during Doc’s heist meetings that I wouldn’t want to spoil, but those scenes are all hilarious and must have been a joy to shoot. Tons of room for improv.
A film about driving has to have some excellent car stunts right? Of course. The stunt team did an amazing job, Wright saying in a pre-film intro that they used as much practical driving as possible and no CGI. It shows. It feels gritty and rough and real.
The soundtrack is as much of a character as anyone. Baby’s multitude of ipods, each one for a different mood, filled with killer tracks. From the opening scene set to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion track Bellbottoms, you get the sense of how Baby’s hearing and love of music will shape the flow of the film. I noticed a lot of heads bopping in the audience during the movie and one guy even tapping his leg as he strutted down the aisle to go to the bathroom during the movie.
It’s almost like a musical in some ways, the songs driving the pace of the film. Wright has always had an ear for perfectly fitting songs and Baby Driver is the product of that.
Whilst not being the most original story you’ll ever see, Baby Driver is a beautifully made film that will surely stand the test of time, or at least the next few years. For me, it was like if Tarantino had grown up in the ipod generation. Snappy, quotable, violent and funny.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a film that was just this cool.
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