Edgar Wright / Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx / Action / 2017 / 15 / 113mins
It’s been a while since we’ve had Edgar Wright, he of Simon Pegg / Nick Frost ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ fame, at the helm. Finally he returns, and with his first Hollywood blockbuster no less – and it’s an absolute thrill ride.
If you’re looking for a getaway driver in Atlanta, Baby (Ansel Elgort) is your guy. Working for master heist planner Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby helps criminals escape again and again. With one more drive to go before he’s paid his dues, Baby meets waitress Debora (Lily James) and instantly falls in love. Life couldn’t be better – he couldn’t be more wrong.
The action in Baby Driver is incredible from the get go. From opening sequence to finishing stand off, this film is relentless. Influenced by the greats before it (I’ve heard Wright mention The French Connection and The Driver amongst others) but great in its own right, Baby Driver will certainly be remembered for reviving what is essentially a lost art (no, the Fast & Furious franchise does not count, scram kid).
Music and sound plays a major part in Baby Driver. A childhood crash meant Baby developed tinnitus, which he drowns out with his iPod. His tinnitus can indeed be heard at various points. It’s foreboding, least because he associates it to the fact his parents died in said crash. In Baby’s shoes, we feel his pain through sound. But Baby makes his own music, remembers his mother through her songs, and the synchronicity between action and song is joyful.
Then there’s the silence. Baby’s foster father Joseph (CJ Jones) is deaf. To include sign language in a movie brimming with tunes might seem inexplicable, but music is an indicator. Those who approve of Baby’s music (Joseph and Debora) are the good guys. It’s a love letter to the cinematic soundtrack.
Wright is a godsend when it comes to editing. He understands it is a craft that can be exploited to emphasise key themes. This isn’t a cue to simply cut from one place to another, this is an opportunity. Montage sequences have never seemed so relevant. You’re taken from A to B, each frame a part of the journey, an action contributing to the whole. It’s easy and anyone can grasp it.
Relative newcomer Elgort has a great emotional range – he is clearly earmarked him for stardom. But above all this is a film with solid foundations. Talented, jack of all trades actors that cover comedy to red eyed murder streaks in the blink of an eye. Having a cast with Hamm and Foxx merely as backup is a dream.
Alas, there are some plot holes that have been duct taped over. Coincidences, change of hearts, a muddy middle, Debora is purely a love interest etc. etc. I also wasn’t content with the ending. Lacking continuation with Baby’s condition and skipping to… well, I can’t ruin it for you. But hey, to each their own. With a lot of competition, Baby Driver could well be this summer’s blockbuster winner.
Baby Driver is the best movie Wright has ever made. Hands down. Everyone will get the same kicks, jokes and tap away to the music. Starts strong, finishes tame, but fun all the same.
Film as a Film – 3 / Target Audience – 4 / General Audience – 4
Baby Driver is in cinemas now
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