With a filmography consisting of the superb Cornetto trilogy, the headache-inducing Scott Pilgrim vs the World and almost Ant-Man, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is the result of an idea of his that lay dormant for two decades, but was it worth the wait?
Baby (Ansel Elgort), a reserved, fresh-faced getaway driver whose moral compass remains intact (similar to Ryan Gosling’s portrayal in 2011’s Drive), is paying off his debt to crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) job by job. While steering the ever-changing clan of criminals which include partners in crime Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González), the constantly aggravating Griff (Jon Bernthal) and hostile impulsive Bats (Jamie Foxx) away from trouble, Baby drowns out his tinnitus with his carefully selected playlists. With his last job in sight and upon meeting and falling for wide-eyed waitress Debora (Lily James) who dreams of greater horizons, Baby starts to envision his life beyond crime.
Opening in the same vigorous fashion as La La Land, Baby Driver is not only a musical masquerading as an action movie, but both films share central performances that anchor the entire film. Although suiting the film’s tone, the supporting cast members verge on caricatures in Baby Driver. However, Elgort and James are an engaging and extremely charming duo. After struggling with the bombardment of visuals and lack of likeable characters in Wright’s previous film Scott Pilgrim vs the World, it was a relief to root for the pair. Although Debora’s history is merely touched upon, it’s a testament to James’ ability and likeable screen presence that she remains a highlight alongside Elgort.
Once again showing Wright’s flair for comedy, Baby Driver also offers just as many laughs as thrills. While Ant-Man, the project Wright left over creative differences, emerged as a bland and generic addition to Marvel’s cinematic universe. Further confirmation (if you really needed it) that expansive franchises need varied, unique voices.
Director Gareth Evans once described how the fighting scenes in his Raid films were choreographed to rhythmic clapping, achieving a fluid pulse throughout the film. Similarly, the car chases and even gunplay in Baby Driver are meticulously set to the soundtrack. Much like Peter Quill’s mixtape in Guardians of the Galaxy and Vol 2, Baby’s attachment to music also has a profound significance to his past, while at other times songs are playing for the hell of it. Baby Driver perfectly captures the feeling that your life is a music video once your earphones are plugged in.
Lacking the spark that’s present in Edgar Wright’s collaborations with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Baby Driver remains a slick summer flick that’s brimming with personality.