Baby Driver Review

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By: Andrew Clarke (@AwaitingAndrew)

Baby Driver is the newest film from acclaimed writer-director Edgar Wright. It stars Ansel Elgort (The Fault In Our Stars) as the title character, Baby – yes, B-A-B-Y – a young but skilled getaway driver for robberies planned by Doc (Academy and Tony award winner Kevin Spacey). Baby is the sole proponent the crime boss keeps around for each robbery, and, from the opening sequence, one could easily see why. Though seemingly unfocused when the details are being laid out, Baby knows his job and does it without fault.

The film opens as Baby jams out to music in the car in the midst of a robbery executed by characters played by Jon Hamm, Eiza González, and Jon Bernthal, and then suddenly we are engaged in one of the most well-made car chase scenes in film history. Seriously.

Once the excitement from the fantastic opening wears off, we are better introduced to our cast of characters, which also includes Jamie Foxx and Lily James in key roles. In between heists, Baby heads to his regular diner and there falls in love with a waitress named Debora (Lily James). When he tells her he’s a driver, she naturally believes him to be a chauffeur and is unbeknownst to what she is getting herself into. It becomes clear early on that Baby doesn’t even want to be involved in this line of criminal work, keeping his hands as clean as a getaway driver can, and dreams of riding off into the sunset with Debora. But don’t be mistaken: with the help of music to heighten his focus, no one drives like Baby behind the wheel.

What makes this film stand out from like heist films is its use of music. Music is at the forefront of Baby Driver: Baby, thanks to a childhood incident leaving a ringing in his ears, has earbuds in for almost the entire film. This inspires not only a fantastic soundtrack – which officially includes about 30 tracks with even more appearing throughout the film – but also some very inventive scenes in which car chases, doors opening, shootouts, etc. are all timed to the beat of the track currently playing. It’s not a musical in the traditional sense of the genre, but I would say about 98% of Baby Driver includes music, and it’s the true star of the film. Like Baby, the film wouldn’t take off without it.

Along with the soundtrack and inventive use of music, Baby Driver contains some of the best, most exhilarating car chase scenes film has ever seen. Wright truly makes the viewer believe Baby is an expert behind the wheel, as, through stunt work and editing, he drifts his way to narrowly avoid a tractor-trailer truck in reverse, switch roadways, or blend in with similar vehicles to cleverly evade the cops. The best explanation for how fantastic these car scenes is to see them for yourself. They’re that good.

If you haven’t surmised this about Baby Driver already, I’ll make it clear: Edgar Wright is a genius. He’s built quite a fan base for himself with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (also known as the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy…or Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End). Baby Driver has Wright’s style all over it, and it might be his best work to date.

Wright also casts each actor perfectly in his or her role: Kevin Spacey is impeccable as crime boss Doc, and none of the actors portraying the crew members seem out of place, a list that includes well-known actors Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Bernthal. Lily James is also good in this film, though the script limits the impact she can have as Baby’s love interest…which brings me to Baby. Though the soundtrack may be the real star of the film, that’s not to lessen Ansel Elgort’s impact in any way. Elgort’s charm and swagger is front and center in Baby Driver, and the romantic theme of The Fault In Our Stars surely prepared him for the romantic elements here. He’s incredibly likable as Baby, and not many actors would fit into the role as well as him.

Despite the presence of themes and plot points that can be found in a number of other films, Edgar Wright’s touch on Baby Driver as writer-director makes this film original and inventive in a number of ways. He utilizes music as the star of the film like none other, creating quite an enjoyable ride. Like the majority of movies of its nature, Baby Driver shows that once you get involved in the dirty business, there’s no getting out. But what fun would audiences have in that? Though not perfect, this might be the most fun I’ve had at the movies so far in 2017.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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