I’m pretty late to the party, but here’s my review of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver.
There’s a sense that Edgar Wright has had a rough deal in Hollywood. After almost universal acclaim for Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, he made Scott Pilgrim versus The World, a perfectly well crafted, witty, quotable film that unfortunately didn’t find an audience. After returning to finish the Cornetto trilogy with The World’s End, Wright was then either (depending on which side of the story you believe) replaced as director of, or walked away from, Marvel’s Ant Man very late into pre-production. Now he has gone back to an idea he used for a Mint Royale music video nearly 15 years ago to bring us Baby Driver, and boy does he get it right.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a car thief turned getaway driver, who suffers from tinnitus after a childhood accident. He is paying off a debt to Kevin Spacey’s Doc by using his driving skills to pull off daring escapes from the heists Doc plans. We see him pull off his last two jobs for Doc, all the time listening to his (numerous) iPods and wearing (numerous) shades. Now free of his obligations, he gets a regular job and starts a relationship with waitress Debora (Lily James), much to the delight of his deaf foster dad Joe (CJ Jones).
While eating at an expensive restaurant however, Baby and Debora’s bill is paid for by Doc. He tells Baby that although they are even, they aren’t finished. Now Baby can make real money, because Doc is planning a huge job and wants his lucky charm behind the wheel. He offers Baby the chance to join him – although if he turns him down, Doc will break his legs and kill everyone he cares about. With tension growing between a team of Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), and Bats (Jamie Foxx), and Baby more focused on his life after crime than even, will they be able to complete this job? And what lies for them beyond it?
Let me get something out of the way first – Baby Driver isn’t perfect. Baby becomes slightly too chatty later in the film for my taste, and the ruthlessly efficient characters start making mistakes seemingly just to further the plot, which undermines the heist part of the film. However, Baby Driver is a very, very enjoyable film. My quick sum up of the film above sounds interesting enough in anyone’s hands, but Edgar Wright adds another layer of humour to his script. Wright also brings some of this trademark flourishes – the fast cuts, cuts from day to night and certain angles brought to mind famous moments from both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I honestly expected someone to ask Baby if he’d never taken a shortcut before and jump over some garden fences.
However, even beyond this is the music that accompanies the film. To be honest, it’s more than just a soundtrack, it is almost another character in the film: songs are given extra meaning during later revelations, gunshots match up with percussion, and lyrics appear as graffiti during songs. Basically the film becomes a musical for large portions, with Elgort making Joe a sandwich (spread right to the edges) in the style of a song and dnace number.
Baby Driver is an immensely enjoyable film. The performances are great across the board, the soundtrack is great, and it has a genuinely laugh out loud script. I think everyone knew Edgar Wright can make great comedy films. I would suggest with Baby Driver, he has proved he can make great films.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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PS As a special treat for reading all the way to the end, here’s the Mint Royale music video based on the original idea for Baby Driver, starring Noel Fielding, Julian Barrett, Nick Frost, and Michael Smiley. Enjoy!