In a directing career spanning two decades, Edgar Wright has rarely put a foot wrong. With this in mind, it should not be surprising to hear that Baby Driver is yet another fantastic addition to his filmography; a strikingly original phoenix rising from the ashes of his scrapped Ant-Man movie.
The eponymous Baby (Ansel Elgort) is in fact a young man who, after losing his parents as a child, spent his formative years becoming a bona-fide genius behind the wheel. Working as a getaway driver for a cold and calculating crime boss (played by the one and only Kevin Spacey), Baby makes a name for himself with a series of daring escapes fuelled by a different playlist of songs each time. Wanting nothing more than to leave his life of crime in the rear-view mirror, and run away with the waitress who stole his heart, Baby finds that getting out of his line of work is harder than he could ever have imagined.
From the very opening scene, the soundtrack of this movie is established as its beating heart. Wright uses each song for a specific purpose, whether to establish character, emphasise certain plot points or just bring that extra bit of energy to a car chase. Not a single song in this movie is interchangeable with another, thanks to the way the action on-screen has been choreographed to match perfectly with the rhythm and beats of what is playing over it. This is the kind of attention to detail that Edgar Wright has always excelled at, and it keeps the film hurtling forward at a fast pace, while also providing visuals that keep your eyes locked to the screen at all times.
“This film is entirely an Elgort vehicle.”
It is easy to lose yourself in the euphoric thrills this film provides, (expect that 113-minute runtime to fly by), but also in Elgort’s charming performance in the lead role. Tasked with acting opposite such heavyweights as Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey, there was a possibility that 23-year-old Elgort could have been overshadowed in his own movie. Fortunately, two brilliant opening scenes establish this film as entirely an Elgort vehicle; with the one-two punch of a frenetic car chase sequence, and an infectiously enthusiastic coffee shop trip set to Bob & Earl’s ‘Harlem Shuffle’. Of course, Hamm and Spacey, along with the rest of the ensemble cast are also excellent, but it is quite clear whose star turn this is.
Baby Driver is a bold and bright reminder that brave and original ideas can still make their way through the Hollywood machine. Edgar Wright has delivered one of the most fun and unique summer blockbusters in recent memory, while also proving that he is one of the most versatile talents working today. Whether you like cars or not is frankly irrelevant when deciding whether to see Baby Driver; it is far more than just Fast & Furious with a catchy soundtrack. It is a celebration of music, love and classic cinema, with a genuine lesson wrapped in its satisfying finale.