Baby Driver is the most fun you’ll have at the cinema all year.
The film follows Baby (Ansel Elgort) whilst he drives for Doc (Kevin Spacey) on his heist missions, paying off a debt from years prior. Whilst driving, Baby listens to music in order to drown out the “hum in the drum” (as Doc puts it) that remains from a car crash in his youth. When Baby pays off his debt, he thinks he’s out of the game for good, but Doc has other ideas, threatening his relationship with Debora (Lily James) leaving Baby no choice but to continue driving.
As a huge Edgar Wright fan (writer and director) I have been waiting for this film for a long time, and it did not disappoint.
As expected from Wright, all of the cogs and motions of the film work toward the same goal, creating this fast-paced action thrill-ride from start to finish, yet Wright also manages to sew in an emotional and touching backstory/character arc for our protagonist, as well as a love interest we genuinely root for.
Wright is a master at quick cuts, taking his time to edit the film in his ideal way. No cut feels unnecessary or flat, using sound bridges and visuals to cut in a multitude of interesting ways, something the director has become known for, and something Hollywood films often forget about entirely.
Fans of the writer/director will also notice others of his conventions including foreshadowing, used excellently again here to lay seeds as to what is to come in unique ways, yet never spoiling the film for his audience.
With an excellent cast to boot, Baby Driver gets even better. Jon Hamm (Buddy) provides a cool, calm character who reveals his darker side where necessary, driven by his love for partner Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) who brings the, not to be messed with, female power to the table.
Jamie Foxx as Bats brings an unhinged, wind-up merchant role who continues to dig under the characters’ skins and Kevin Spacey provides the menacing controller, yet also a father-type figure to Baby. Ansel Elgort himself brings a cool, “bad boy” vibe to the protagonist whilst also balancing this with his passion for music, driving and Debora, bringing forward his vulnerabilities as a character.
Baby puts others before himself throughout the entire film, driving because he’s forced to, looking after his deaf adoptive father Joe (CJ Jones), caring for Debora, and we can see all he wants to do is escape the life he finds himself in. Coupled with his touching backstory, Baby is a character we feel deeply for.
There is one other key character to this film, and that’s the music. The soundtrack genuinely provides it’s own performance, accompanying the film perfectly throughout it’s high-speed getaways, tense waiting and emotional scenes. The music is mainly presented as diegetic, from Baby’s iPod for example, before slipping into the soundtrack, engulfing us into the film’s world.
We’re always positioned in Baby’s shoes, becoming involved in all he has to deal with. An excellent, yet subtle, technique Wright uses involves adding a faint humming to the soundtrack when there is no music or dialogue. This humming is the same that Baby hears, putting us right alongside our protagonist, creating a sympathetic, emotional attachment to the character who we genuinely care about and root for.
Not everything works perfectly however as seen with Baby and Debora’s relationship, which feels all too unrealistic at times. The fact she would fall so quickly for someone who she knows is a criminal, for someone who may have a kind heart but ultimately has dragged her into the mess he lives in stretches a bit too far.
I understand there is certainly a connection between the two of them, and reasons as to why she would run away with him, but I feel there could have been more time devoted to building their relationship, and Debora as a character. However, at the same time, I feel the film fits so neatly together as it is that I would hate for it to be slowed down.
In conclusion, Baby Driver is without a doubt the most entertaining, thrill driven, fast-paced films of the year, one of the best so far. Wright is on excellent form, creating a comical, action-packed and adrenaline ride from start to finish, accompanied perfectly via his soundtrack. The characters provide even more weight, intensity, emotion and action as the film builds to, what I believe, to be a perfect end.