Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal & Jon Hamm
Rating: 15 Duration: 112 minutes
Films like Baby Driver are the reason I go to the cinema, or rather sit at home watching it on Blu-ray. The simple things are often the most reassuring, and there is nothing more so than a getaway film. Edgar Wright has delivered one of the most original films in years and one that feels like everything he has done so far has been building towards this.
Baby Driver is a finely tuned beast of a film. From the very start, we are dropped into Baby’s (Ansel Elgort) world as he navigates his way through the streets of Atlanta in a wonderfully choreographed getaway sequence. Like Drive, but with more panache and personality, Baby Driver moves along at a furious pace for the first 30 minutes or so. We are introduced to Baby’s boss Doc (Spacey) and his revolving crew of hired hands which includes scenery chewing performances from Jamie Foxx as well as Jon Hamm & Bernthal. There’s an entirely fresh feeling to Baby Driver and it’s evident that the entire cast are completely sold by Wright’s vision.
Baby Driver owes a lot to the films of Tony Scott and Quentin Tarantino in terms of style and ceaseless wordplay, but this is no homage. The fact it feels so new in a world full of unoriginal ideas is alone, something that should be applauded. The way the beats of each song match up with what’s happening on screen is pure poetry. And the way Baby moves down the street to the Harlem Shuffle and or how he picks just the right song for each getaway has been carefully thought out and the choreography is on par with any of the great musicals. In one way, Baby Driver is a unique amalgamation of different genres, but there is no doubt in the way the film feels like nothing you have seen before.
For an Edgar Wright film, it plays things surprisingly straight. Maybe we expect something different from the director of the Cornetto trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but Baby Driver is largely free of laughs. That’s not to say it isn’t funny, because it is, but the entire film is a very mature animal. There are zingers in the script and when it wants to be funny, Baby Driver is achingly so. There’s also a wonderful heart to the film, with Baby suffering a tragedy at a young age and then owing an unknown debt to Spacey’s haunting Doc. We root for Baby from the get go, and his desire to get out of the crime business and leave it all behind with his girl Debora (Lily James) in tow will pierce even the hardest of hearts.
There’s a tremendous amount of attitude in Baby Driver. From Jon Bernthal’s punky Griff, to Hamm’s near psychotic ex Wall Street guy who ran off with his favourite stripper. But, it’s Baby who steals the show. Whether it’s the magnetism of Elgort or seeing him shimmy his way down the street to his favourite songs, there is a desire to see him do, well anything really. His interaction with Debora and his foster father are full of emotion and joy. And then there is the final showpiece, filmed so intricately it must’ve took NASA to put it together, where we feel every beat of Baby’s last stand that you can’t help but be won over by him.
If there are niggles, I’m loathe to see them now. Not through naivety, but through the sheer fucking enjoyment of this film, I’m hard pressed to remember having this much fun watching a film in a long time.