Baby Driver (Film Review)

All You Need Is One Killer Track

Baby Driver is an action film written and directed by Edgar Wright. Who created the Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World's End) and directed Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. It stars Ansel Elgort (Divergent, The Fault in our Stars); Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), Lily James (Downton Abbey), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained)
, Eiza González (From Dusk till Dawn: The Series) and Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead).  
Being what can only be specifically described as a stylish-action-heist-drama, Baby Driver follows Ansel Elgort's character, Baby, an incredibly skilled young getaway driver working for a gang of bank robbers. Daunted by the criminal world he's in, Baby meets a woman and starts the lovey-dovey romance process. Wanting nothing more than to just be with his music, his girl and the joy of driving, Baby has to swiftly drift through the messy repercussions of wanting to leave the criminal operation.

Ansel Elgort as Baby

Edgar Wright was originally meant to be the director for 2015 Marvel Superhero film, Ant-Man but left the project due to what was stated as creative differences. This news at the time was more good than bad as Wright is a director who works best unhinged, being given full authority to bring his vivid ideas of stylish, humour-sprinkled escapism to the big screen without restriction. I've mentioned style a couple of times now and will probably continue to do so at every opportunity because that's what Baby Driver is bursting with. Style envelops all other aspects of the film, reminding the industry that Wright is still among the top tier of directors working today. 

Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González, Jon Hamm

First of all, the soundtrack: it's amazing. Not just because of the tracklist but how it's used. Due to an accident in is childhood; Ansel Elgort's character, Baby, has tinnitus, regularly hearing sounds like a ringing in his ears. Baby constantly listens to music to drown out the ringing, both invigorating his world around him, both behind the wheel and away from it, as well as for our pleasure in the experience. Baby's a reserved guy who suddenly loses himself in the music. He thrives in it. He lives it. We can all relate to that in a way. Just casually low-key dancing whilst walking in the street, nearly walking into someone because you're so enthralled to what you're listening to. It makes everything better and it makes everything about Baby Driver better. It becomes more engaging when you think about the fact that whatever song you're hearing, Baby's hearing it too.When certain tracks either make you feel excitement during one of the car chases, or upbeat ease as a happy-dance scene plays out, the same applies to Baby. You're not just seeing the story through the eyes of the protagonist like in an average film, you're feeling it. Every pick on this tracklist has been carefully chosen by Edgar Wright to compliment not only the style and finesse that compliments each sequence and conversation, but to also enhance your empathy towards Baby, giving everything that happens around him so much more gravity. You'll find yourself head bobbing once or twice then be amazed by the bombardments of style this film throws at you.

Up until now, there hasn't been much of a reason to be wowed by Ansel Elgort. He's been in roles to showcase his charisma and skill before but never enough to showcase ability for a leading role. For the role of Baby, Elgort's really shown strength in being able to portray the personality of usually being calm and collected until thriving in his music, whilst holding that sweet innocence when with those he cares about. If anything had to be the "sort-of-weak-link", it'd be the love story with Lily James' as Debora. Mainly because it seems sort of rushed in the context of the film but as soon as you remember that her and Baby have known of each prior anyway, you'll still enjoy the hefty level of heart it adds. Holding his own in scenes, sharing scenes with A-listers like Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Jon Bernthal, Elgort stands out with skill that will continue to bring him more leading roles in the future.

Lily James as Debora. Cute.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years, there'll be at least one cast member's name you'll recognise before seeing this film. As soon as I saw what talent was involved, I had no doubt about the quality of performances on-screen and was in no way disappointed. With Kevin Spacey especially, other actors command scenes wonderfully when they're characters are meant to. What's better is that it's never really obvious whose going to be more involved later on in the film and in what way. It's rare to see narrative curve balls that aren't generic plot twists these days. It's a lot more subtle and whatever void is left behind by the absence of some characters nearer the end is filled by that standard third act of brilliance Edgar Wright is known for.

Kevin James, Jamie Foxx and Jon Bernthal

I rarely see heist or car chase film creators catering to the viewer's wishes to follow what's actually going on. Close-ups of wheels and panels, long shots of the cars and the roads, generic car chases can be poorly edited together, merely signalling to audiences that a car chase is happening and having them wait for it to be over. It can be like you're in the middle of an average action sequence in any Transformers film ever (a huge mess). Baby Driver is masterfully shot and edited so that not only are you able to follow Baby's way of thinking and his actions with breathtakingly stylish driving maneuvers. You're also able to predict which way or what tactic he'll go with next to escape his pursers. In Baby Driver, Car chases aren't just being used as a vehicle to get the audience from one end of a scene to the other. Its action scenes keep you engaged enough to make you feel more part of the experience than any other action film you've seen this year.

Final Thoughts

Edgar Wright has had Baby Driver in his head since conceiving it in 1994, considering if and how he should make it reality, previously adapting the planned beginning scene into a 2003 music video for Blue Song by Mint Royale. Stepping away from a Marvel film where he couldn't fully be himself as a film maker, Wright returned to strike back with a concept 23 years in the making, simultaneously destroying the glass ceilings that are both expectations of his work and action films in general.

Some of the best chase sequences you'll ever see.

Baby Driver's not just an incredibly fun film, it's ability to keep you engaged for the entirety of its run time has you adore the vibrant life and soul bursting from it's core. It's rare a film so heavy on action and laughs make you care about the characters in front of you this much. The enthralling premise and masterfully shot scenes only add to it's originality. Caught up in the wave of stylish tone that Baby Driver establishes for itself from the start, I couldn't stop smiling through the first act and I couldn't stop doing the same as the credits rolled.

Rating: 9.5/10

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