Baby Driver: Film Review
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jamie Foxx, CJ Jones
Director: Edgar Wright
Seeded from an idea Spaced and Cornetto Trilogy director Edgar Wright had two decades ago, and given life after studio executives caught Wright on the hop after being bounced off Ant-Man, Baby Driver is a jukebox blast of a movie.
Centring around the story of hotshot driver, Baby (Elgort, in relatively mute, but extremely physical form) who's blackmailed into one last job by Doc (Kevin Spacey, in monosyllabic but charismatic form), Wright's latest marks a more mature directing outlook.
When the assembled crew of volatile Bats (Foxx), Buddy (Hamm) and his wife Darling (Gonzalez) are teamed up with Baby, Baby decides to try and get away from the job, after falling for local diner waitress Debora (James).
But with the clock ticking, and the screws tightening, is Baby ever going to be able to just drive off into the sunset with his love in the passenger seat?
Riffing on many a familiar heist premise, and with the stonking soundtrack providing the cues for much of the action and editing, large parts of Baby Driver are high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled fun. The synchronisation of sound with the onscreen action proves to be a great boon for Baby Driver, as it mixes the music that Baby's permanently listening to with life around him (including a breath-taking one take street walking sequence that exceeds La La Land's highway opening number).
While it's fair to say that perhaps the romance doesn't quite gel as much as it could thanks to Debora feeling more like a passenger than a driver of the story, the women feeling slightly underwritten, and the back third of the film feels raced and jumbled, what Wright's brought to the screen for the rest is a relative delight.
From a laundromat scene where different coloured sheets flow in wash in the background via a sublime choreography to the use of sign language in Baby's relationship with his father, Wright's eye for details and their execution is second-to-none.
A physical Ansel has to use his gangly gait and the music to propel most of his action along, and Elgort willingly surrenders easily to the beat, imbuing Baby with a heart, and a naive innocence that's grimly catchy.
There's much of Baby Driver which feels fresh on the screen, even if the trademark Wright quick cuts show up at the end. With a script that's more like an album transposed on screen, music's a major part of Baby Driver and gives the film its beating heart. But it's Wright whose eye for cinematic flair and directing maturity hold the film together when the wheels threaten to fall off.
In a cinematic landscape which is overwhelmed by sequels and superheroes, Baby Driver (along with Colossus earlier this year) demonstrate there's still thankfully a place for originality at the movies.