After Edgar Wright’s unceremonious departure from Ant-Man, we didn’t hear much from the man. Well now he’s back with an almighty bang, delivering to the masses Baby Driver – a truly superb action-musical-heist hybrid that gorgeously couples up style and substance to deliver one of the best films of the year.
The premise is deceptively simple – Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young man with exceptional skills behind the wheel. This makes him the perfect getaway driver for Doc (Kevin Spacey), the brains behind a series of high-speed heists sweeping across Atlanta. Suffering from tinnitus after an accident as a child, Baby constantly has music playing in his earphones to drown out the noise. When a big job arrives, Baby must once again drive to survive as he looks for a way out of his predicament. With a crew made up of some unhinged individuals, all Baby wants to do is run away with a waitress that he likes named Debora (Lily James), but his criminal past has other ideas.
Turning the heist movie on its head, Baby Driver effortlessly blends in music and image to conjure something very special indeed. Made up of classics and contemporary tunes that just work beautifully in every aspect of the film, the Baby Driver soundtrack is a must-own collection this year. From the film’s breathless opening sequence to the last shot, this is a passion project years in the making and one that oozes style and coolness in every frame.
The action is spectacular, with car chases that give you goosebumps. It’s shot with suitable verve by Wright, who also wrote the film, and who brings his usual tropes to the table. But this is in no way a replaying of his past hits. Wright has matured as a filmmaker, both visually and narratively-speaking, delivering a screenplay that sparkles with comedy, tension and genuine heart, all packaged into a film that simply looks stunning.
As great as the spectacle is, it’s the characterisation that keeps you hooked. Baby doesn’t say much in the movie but he’s played pitch-perfectly by Ansel Elgort. The Fault in our Stars actor seriously impresses here and shares a wonderful chemistry with Lily James, who herself easily convinces as a sweet-natured waitress who wishes to be swept away from her mundane life. The two bounce off one another really well and create a great central partnership that always keeps the audience rooting for them.
The film boasts an awesome supporting cast who all really elevate the narrative. Again, credit has to go to Edgar Wright for creating characters that genuinely hit a nerve. These are all memorable, larger-than-life villains from the Bonnie & Clyde-esque Buddy and Darling (Jon Hamm and Eiza González) to the completely unhinged Bats (Jamie Foxx). They are always entertaining but crucially, they are also all bad people, and Wright’s astute script never lets you forget that. They are genuinely scary at times, and you feel the uneasiness that Baby has to endure during their heists together. Jamie Foxx in particular is exceptional here. It’s his finest performance since Miami Vice and one that lingers long in the mind.
Switching dynamic, CJ Jones is excellent as Baby’s disabled, deaf foster father who wants more for his son than a life of crime. Their relationship is a major reason to why the film works so well on an emotional level. Jon Bernthal is always watchable, especially as Griff, who takes an instant dislike to Baby. Kevin Spacey once again steals his scenes as Doc and delivers some classic dialogue in his trademark, unmistakable style that is sure to be quoted by everyone all summer.
Destined to be a cult classic, Baby Driver is a symphony of style and spectacle and is that next great American movie… one that takes a familiar concept and keeps it fresh, relevant and utterly engrossing. Edgar Wright has delivered his finest work to date, and it stands as a real statement of intent for the filmmaker who has endured a difficult few years creatively. Baby Driver is a blistering action spectacular fuelled by killer tunes, and is easily one of the cinematic highlights of the year.
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jon Bernthal, CJ Jones Director: Edgar Wright Writer: Edgar Wright Released By: Sony Pictures Certificate: 15 Duration: 113 mins Release Date: 28th June 2017