So there’s this little indie flick that nobody has heard about. It’s called Baby Driver. Daniel Armstrong checks it out.
If you’re a fan of Edgar Wright’s work then you already want to see this movie, and for as many times as Baby Driver spells out its title, you’ll still have a hard time wrapping your head around how great this film gets.
Taking a turn away from his usual cast of Simon Pegg & Nick Frost everyday people with hearts of gold, Wright throws us into the world of a getaway driver named Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, as he is about to leave the life of crime behind after one last job. This is only made more complicated by the three crazy criminals he has been teamed up with; a murderous madman and a Bonny & Clyde-style couple played by Jamie Foxx, Eiza González and Jon Hamm respectively.
While you may have heard that setup before, you probably haven’t seen it quite like this. The whole film is synchronised with the film’s incredible Americana and classic punk/soul soundtrack – conveniently playing on Baby’s various iPods throughout the movie. Scene transitions, lighting cues, and even character actions throughout the film are perfectly aligned with the music. Combined with the darker plot and the comedic stylings of Edgar Wright, this makes Baby Driver almost a subversion of the musical genre. Instead of singing in the rain, Baby’s drifting in the streets and barely says – let alone sings – a word.
Despite the lack of dialogue from our main character, Elgort’s performance still manages to be completely engaging and relatable; bouncing perfectly off his co-star Lily James’ music loving waitress, Deborah, for a surprisingly believable love story. Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey also shine in this film but the rest of the backup cast (González and Foxx) are somewhat underwhelming and Foxx, in particular, comes just shy of the edgy, potentially schizophrenic career criminal you can tell he was supposed to be.
All the performances, however, play nicely into Wright’s signature comedic styling. His tendency towards absurdism and black comedy mean that any weaker performances almost add to the hilarity of the film. Unlike most modern American comedies, Wright doesn’t rely on ad-libbed jokes from his actors, using smart writing and visual/audio queues for comedy instead. This pays off in some fantastic sequences in which nothing more than the music playing is needed for a laugh.
The cinematography of Baby Driver, while not overtly flashy, is impressive. The camera is almost constantly moving along with the characters, music, and driving of the film, both complementing and tying all these aspects together nicely – as if the camera and audience are part of the action taking place. It’s all the things like this that make the world of Baby Driver both completely believable and nonsensical at the same time.
With a plot reminiscent of 2011’s Drive, a soundtrack to rival Guardians of the Galaxy, and the most impressive musical/fight choreography since John Wick, it’s safe to say Baby Driver is a fresh and unique mash-up of genres that you won’t find anywhere else.
Baby Driver gets a 5-6-7-8/10
Feature Image: Screencap from trailer via Youtube.