Movie Review: ‘Baby Driver’
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González, Jon Bernthal
Plot: Baby works as a getaway driver for a dangerous criminal in order to pay off a debt. When he has paid off what he owed he finds it harder than he expected to escape from the world he’s gotten involved in.
Review: We know this much for certain…every Top 10 Best Car Chase lists is going to feature Baby Driver from this point on. We also know that Edgar Wright has shown us something very different just after we’d grown used to his unique style of blending visuals and audio through the edit.
We’re not going to mince words, we adore Edgar Wright’s work. He’s one of the few film-makers working right now who fully embraces visual storytelling, who doesn’t let a single shot, cut or aspect of sounds design go without meaning. We didn’t watch any trailers for Baby Driver, nor did we read any synopsis because Edgar Wright was helming this film and that’s enough. He’s one of the few film-makers whose work we rewatch more than once. We had clear expectations of what we’d get, and yet it feels like we got a curveball that somehow felt familiar.
What Baby Driver really does is ask this question: what’s a musical without musical numbers? Nobody breaks into song and there’s no synchronised dancers, and yet every aspect of the movie is driven by the rhythm of the music. It’s truly unique and absolutely spectacular. Every cut, every camera movement, every character action is matched the beat. During frantic gun fights every spray of machine gun fire fits the music. This is a testament to imagination, planning and control. There’s a dedication to a style that’s rare among creative workers. Wright has said that he’s been planning this film for more than 20 years, and I believe it. More impressively, it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. We wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s subtle, it’s more a bedrock of a concept on which a great story gets told.
We get introduced to Baby (Elgort) in the middle of a bank robbery, and he’s certainly a quirky fellow. He is always wearing sunglasses and he’s always listening to his ipod. As the movie goes on we learn about his past and what shaped him and his idiosyncrasies. The changes that the character goes through during the film are backed up by a solid performance from Elgort, who alters his entire physicality over the course of his arc. Lily James plays the waitress Deborah, love interest to Baby and his motivation for leaving the life of crime. We would have liked more of her story as she almost heads into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory, but James’ performance and chemistry with Elgort saves it. The rest of the cast are made up of a truckload of award statuettes represented by Spacey, Foxx, Hamm and González and they make the film even more fun. We won’t get into the here because they do play with our expectations.
The story is one we’ve seen a dozen times before, but it’s been decades since it felt this fresh and original. In all honesty Wright couldn’t rested a cliched film on his unique approach to putting a film together and we’d have been happy, but the fact that it kept us guessing and on the edge of our seats is a splendid cherry on top. The Fate of Furious wowed us by hurling dozens of self-driving cars out of multi-story carparks and it was fun, but no moment in that entire franchise matches the exhilaration we felt in a any one of the action sequences created in Baby Driver.
We have loved everything Edgar Wright has done from Spaced onwards. Everything he has made has been a bundle of fun. Initially I was tempted to say this was his most ‘mature’ film to date, but there’s nothing immature about how he has approached film-making in the past. No, this is his most refined work. It takes his approach to matching visuals and sound design to a more refined level than we’ve seen before. Baby Driver is the culmination of every experiment in visual storytelling Wright has attempted and we cannot wait to see what he does next.
Baby Driver takes a place alongside Get Out as having a guaranteed spot in 2017s top 10 movies list. It’s highly refined, meticulous film-making that is also damn good fun. Edgar Wright has delivered another slice of fried gold.
Rating: TEN out of TEN. We were umming and ahhing about nine or ten, but fuck it. We’re still buzzing.