Baby Driver Review
Buckle up for this vehicular musical getaway
Baby Driver isn't re-inventing the wheel or anything, but this hair-raising car caper from Edgar Wright is a brand new model of movie.Edgar Wright has long been a ‘cult’ director, and this latest release is only going to add to his reputation as a maker of quotable favourites. The idea of Baby Driver came to Wright twenty years ago when he was listening to a killer set of tunes. The idea spawned a riotous car chase movie with an absolutely scintillating soundtrack and a phenomenal ensemble cast.Ansel Elgort is Baby, a getaway driver with tinnitus who’s nearly worked off his debt to crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey). But, as is movie law, there’s one last job. Doc assembles an ever-changing gang of criminals to pull off his heists, but Baby is his ace in the hole. Baby constantly listens to music to drown out the ringing in his ears, and it’s that soundtrack that we hear throughout the film.
Sure, this is a car film, but it’s just as much a music film. Maybe more – the soundtrack and the sound mixing and the way the music plays within the film’s plot is mesmerising, and unlike anything else you’ll hear this summer. Wright has basically used songs to plot out his screenplay; the music says just as much about what’s happening as the characters do. The soundtrack helps to make this film a total joyride: it’s a music video on steroids.
But it is a car film, and the chase scenes are exhilarating. The very opening chase in particular is breath-taking – it sets the pace beautifully. The set piece is planned and choreographed to perfection, and Elgort’s calm Baby is completely in sync with his car. It’s probably as close as we’ll get to car chase art.
Everyone in the cast puts in a shift here. Spacey is chilling, Elgort is charismatic, Jamie Foxx is cavalier, Jon Hamm and Eiza González are clichéd and tragic, Jon Bernthal is gruffly menacing and Lily James is radiant and charming. James plays Deborah, the diner waitress Baby falls in love with. She plays the character beautifully, but there’s not really much to play – compared to the other rich and developed characters, Deborah feels a bit flat. She’s there as the romantic interest, the catalyst, and at times it feels like she’s forgotten in the rush of the film.
The soundtrack helps to make this film a total joyride: it’s a music video on steroids
But what a rush. There are some fabulous lines and Wright’s direction is full of joy and cheek and vigour. Oh, and did I mention the soundtrack? It’s the summer blockbuster reinvented: attractive and/or famous cast members? Check. High tempo soundtrack? Check. Fast-paced, high-octane stunts? Check. Love story? Check. Shiny car? Check and check.
Wright has taken the idea of a film set to music and done a U-turn. This is a film about music, that’s alive with music, that’s powered by music. From the impossible tricks Baby pulls off in the car to the wickedly funny turns of phrase the script is peppered with, this is a winner. It’s not too often you see a heist caper about a whip-smart getaway driver with tinnitus, let's put it that way.
This is no car crash – it’s a fun, wild and clever ride that asks you to plug in your earphones and fasten your seatbelt.
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