In this genre-bending ride of a film, writer/director Edgar Wright comes back once again to successfully blend action with comedy, this time adding elements from musicals and romance to create one high-octane adrenaline rush for film and music lovers alike. It goes without saying that the breakneck yet never straining editing across all of Wright’s filmography is something that should be praised, however, this film’s editing uses music unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s almost as if Wright directed a 1hr 53min music video consisting of breathtaking car chases and action sequences intermixed with well written scenes of dialogue.
There is a small scene early on in the film in which our main protagonist, Baby, is walking through the streets of Atlanta to get coffee from a local shop. This whole scene which lasts only for a few minutes was impressively filmed in one shot, but more impressively was the way the music elevated the scene. Every sound effect and visual action were matched precisely to the beat of the music, sometimes having lyrics show up in the form of wall graffiti just as that same lyric is sung in the song. Although this may seem to halt the progression of the plot and be stylistically over-indulgent, Wright is talented enough of a writer to make this scene not go to waste. Our protagonist has had tinnitus since childhood and must listen to music constantly from his earbuds in order to drown out the ringing sound. That is why the music in this film is used in a wholly unique way; rather than just serving as background music to evoke a mood, it is a part of the main character and actually shows us how he views the world through the soundtrack to his life.
Ansel Elgort’s performance as Baby was nothing special but it is good enough to carry the film along. That may seem like a back-handed compliment but there is nothing Elgort can do because his character doesn’t have much to say and is stone-faced most of the time. Lily James gives a great performance as the romantic interest to Baby. Her character, Debora, is a waitress at a local diner and her character brings a subtle innocence to the film. Kevin Spacey’s performance as the crime boss who hired Baby never fails to disappoint. Although his vocal delivery was cold and monotonous as usual, Spacey still has that power to have all the emotion and anger seep through from behind the words. Jamie Foxx comes back strong with a fierce performance as Bats, the unpredictable and off-the-wall crew member taking part in the heist. Jon Hamm is also in the film and so is Eliza Gonzales, both dong a great job at playing a crime couple in the likes of Bonnie and Clyde. It was also nice to see Jon Bernthal give an exceptional, albeit brief, performance.
If there are any negatives to extract from this film, to me it would be the rushed romance. It felt almost as if the relationship between Baby and Deborah grew too quickly and resulted in decisions made mainly by Deborah that had me questioning her intelligence. However, this is me stretching to find a negative and it did not bother me while watching the film. Only after thinking about it hours later did I notice. Aside from the small nitpick, the script is incredibly tight, unsurprisingly so considering that Wright wrote all of it himself. His ability to recall earlier events and make callbacks is so gratifying and makes his films so satisfying to watch. For example, there is a line of dialogue in which a woman quotes Dolly Parton about having to go through rain in order to see the rainbow and is later recalled at the end of the film when we see a rainbow stretching across the sky in a way that avoids being cheesy. Script details like this are what make Edgar Wright one of the best writer/director combos in Hollywood today.
Baby Driver is a must-see for film and music fans. I know I am and I had a wide smile across my face the entire time. Not only is it a fun time at the cinema, but it is an expertly crafted piece of art with a sharply technical edge that I know many people will never notice. What makes it even more worthwhile is that while surrounded in a world of reboots, spin-offs, sequels and prequels, Baby Driver is a completely original film and not enough of them are nearly getting the recognition they deserve. There is so much more good to be said about this film but I will avoid doing so because it would only lead to something like a 20 page essay paper. Please just go out and buy a ticket to see this film, you won’t regret it.