So it’s time for me to review my most anticipated film of the year. Pretty much every year that one is coming out, you can guarantee that the new Edgar Wright film will be my most anticipated film. His films, along with Spaced, are some of the greatest pieces of comedy made in the past 20 years and with this, the idea of Edgar Wright directing a car chase movie was incredibly exciting. Luckily, I was able to see the film in advance of its wide release due to an early screening put on by my local Odeon, and I have to say, this is easily the most fun I’ve had in a film so far this year.The film focuses on Baby, a getaway driver who orchestrates his driving to music on his iPod, which he listens to all the time to drown out the tinnitus he developed after a car crash which killed his parents (alongside using the music to drown out the memories). After he believes he is out of the crime industry after he pays off his debt to crime boss Doc, Baby meets waitress Debora and starts a relationship with her, hoping to go clean. However, Doc forces Baby to perform another drive for him, with the threat of killing Debora and Baby’s foster dad Joseph, if he doesn’t. Now, unlike Edgar Wright’s other films, this film is not a straight up comedy. Sure there are some funny moments in Baby Driver but this is a thriller, and in that regard, Baby Driver succeeds. The plot is a bit basic but it does the job it needs to in creating compelling characters and a brilliant atmosphere of tension throughout. However, whilst the overall plot of the film is a thriller, in terms of tone, Baby Driver is most similar to a musical, this being deliberate with the use of music. Every single moment in the film is choreographed down to the most minute detail, with long takes being used to highlight the choreography of everything, which I’ll get into a bit more later. The car chases meanwhile serve as the main musical moments of the film, feeling as much like dances as action scenes, with this element being aided by casting Paul Williams and Walter Hill, highlighting the merging of both musicals and action.
The performances help to add to the tone throughout the film, with Ansel Elgort being the standout as Baby. If this character was portrayed wrong, then the whole film would collapse as you would be following a boring character. Thankfully, Elgort brings a great deal of charm to the role, making him a very likable character, with subtle shifts in his body language helping to denote the changing nature of the character. Kevin Spacey meanwhile gives a good threatening air as Doc whilst also making it clear that he does have some level of admiration and respect for Baby. Lily James meanwhile doesn’t get the best written character in Debora but she gives a very charming performance, a good counterpoint to Elgort’s, helped by strong chemistry that James and Elgort share. Speaking of good chemistry, there are some fun scenes shared between Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez and Buddy and Darling, the two clearly having fun in the roles, whilst also showing a more sinister side later on in the film. CJ Jones as Baby’s foster dad Joseph also gets some great moments with his body language and use of ASL doing a good job at showing the relationship between Joseph and Baby, and I do respect that Wright hired an actor who is deaf for the part. The comic highlight of the film though is Jamie Foxx as Bats, a character who is completely off his rocker, impulsive, violent and willing to kill anyone who even looks at him funny, Foxx walking the fine line between intimidating and funny effectively. There are also fun roles from Jon Bernthal, Brogan Hall and Flea which add to the overall tone of the film.
On a technical level, Baby Driver continues the trend of each Edgar Wright film showing the peak of the skills of both him and his team in a different area. For me personally, Shaun of the Dead was the best written, Hot Fuzz was the funniest, Scott Pilgrim vs the World was the best edited and The World’s End was the best directed. Baby Driver meanwhile easily has the best sound design in any of Edgar Wright’s films. Every single sound effect in the film is timed perfectly to the music, not one beat is out of place, with the tone of the film being destroyed if this happened. This also ties in to the excellent music choices made throughout the film. I won’t go into every song since I’ll be here all day, I’ll just say that the music integration here is some of the best I’ve seen, even managing to eclipse Guardians of the Galaxy. Special attention has to be given to the stunt team and the direction for the car chases. These are some of the best car chases I’ve seen in a film, the use of real cars and the streets of Atlanta creating a sense of power and speed to these chases, which works alongside the excellent editing that is to be expected of an Edgar Wright film.
Overall, Baby Driver is an exhilarating film. Through it’s great mix of action and music, Edgar Wright is able to direct one of the rare action films that has the feel of a musical, something Edgar Wright has openly acknowledged hes loved doing since the music video for Mint Royale’s Blue Song (which is shown in Baby Driver), aided by his season of films that inspired Baby Driver at the BFI being called Car Car Land. Very few directors have the skill to pull this mesh off but Edgar Wright pulls it off with ease.
My Rating: 5/5