Release date: 28th June 2017/Watch the trailer here
When your directorial back catalogue includes Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, you’ve certainly put a lot of pressure on yourself to continue making great films. Luckily for Edgar Wright, with Baby Driver he’s not only made a movie that’s every bit as good as his previous ones: he’s made a movie that’s even better.
Baby Driver has all of the trademarks of an Edgar Wright classic (albeit lacking Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), while still managing to be something entirely different from any other film out there. It follows the titular character of Baby (Ansel Elgort), who listens to music constantly to drown out the ringing in his ears that he was left with following an accident as a child. Baby also happens to be an incredible driver; a skill that has resulted in him being coerced into working as a getaway driver for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey). After meeting and falling in love with a waitress named Debora (Lily James), Baby wants nothing more than to leave behind his life of crime and run away with her, but he soon learns that Doc won’t make it easy for him. He agrees to be the driver for one more heist, alongside fellow criminals Bats (Jamie Foxx), Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González), but it quickly transpires that the heist was doomed to fail from the start.
On paper, Baby Driver sounds far from original: we’ve seen bank heists in movies many, many times before, and the concept of a reluctant getaway driver is familiar from Drive. What truly sets Baby Driver apart from the rest (aside from Wright’s trademark sharp sense of humour, of course) is its use of music. Admittedly, plenty of recent films have used a soundtrack of songs predominantly from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s to varying degrees of success (it worked well in Guardians of the Galaxy; less so in Suicide Squad), but none of them have used music quite like Baby Driver does.
In Baby Driver, the music is its very own character: each scene is set perfectly in time with its own song (this works particularly well during a shootout set to ‘Tequila’); and on the rare moments that Baby takes out his earphones, the music stops for the audience, too. It’s an incredibly ambitious move by Wright and one that really has to be seen to be fully understood; no words will ever succeed in conveying the way in which Wright has injected life into his film by using music as a living, breathing being.
The actual living, breathing beings in Baby Driver are all on top form, too: Elgort (who up until now had only been seen in YA movies such as the Divergent series and The Fault in Our Stars) has found the role that he was destined to play, and he completely embodies every element of Baby: from the awkward music-lover who dances in the street to his favourite songs, to the impossibly cool getaway driver and the hopeless romantic. He has fantastic, believable chemistry with Lily James, who is utterly charming and almost impossible to not fall in love with – and it also helps that she’s given far more to do than the average ‘love interest’ role. The more A-list members of the cast – Spacey, Foxx and Hamm – seem to be having a blast playing somewhat more villainous characters, and they all have their scene-stealing moments without ever taking away from Elgort and James, who are the undeniable heart and soul of the movie.
Much like Baby himself, impossibly cool and hopelessly romantic both seem like ideal phrases to describe Baby Driver. The subplot of Baby and Debora’s relationship may take up more of the runtime than your average action movie; but fans of car chases, shootouts and numerous gruesome, gory deaths will be far from disappointed. With minimal CGI and a focus on practical effects and real stunts, the action sequences of Baby Driver – most notably the opening car chase and the entire final third of the film – are breathlessly exhilarating while being slickly choreographed: a cinematic joyride from start to thrilling finish.