‘Baby Driver’ is Fast, Furious, and a Whole Lotta Fun

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Baby Driver

Ever since Shaun of the Dead, Edgar Wright has entranced audiences with his kinetic style of filmmaking that matches verbal wit with visual wit on level like no other filmmaker. Wright’s films have layers that make them endlessly rewatchable as the filmmaker is meticulous in crafting his stories. There’s also a certain musical quality to Wright’s movies, a rhythmic sense that matches his impeccable editing. Now it all seems that Wright’s previous films were a test drive for his latest, Baby Driver, which matches his musical stylings with his fast-paced visuals in a wildly entertaining movie that blends action and music with Wright’s trademark wittiness. There are few films this year that will match Baby Driver in pure entertainment value, a high-octane action flick with the year’s best soundtrack and ample humor and character to fuel the motorized mayhem.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver that is unmatched in his ability to elude authorities following daring heists. He works in the employ of Doc (Kevin Spacey), who orchestrates robberies with a rotating crew of criminals. The only constant in these jobs is Baby behind the wheel. The young man always has his earbuds in as a childhood accident left him with tinnitus, the constant music drowning out the ringing in his ears. Baby is a reluctant criminal pulled into the life of crime by a debt he owes Doc from some childhood criminality that crossed the crime boss. The young man lives with his foster father Joseph (CJ Jones), who is deaf. Soon Baby finds himself infatuated with Deborah (Lily James), a waitress at a local diner, and the two start dating just as Baby is about to leave behind his life of crime. Only there’s one more job on the horizon, and Baby must drive for a heist involving Buddy (Jon Hamm) and his wife Darling (Eiza González), as well as Bats (Jamie Foxx), a violent wildcard. For once, it might not be so easy for Baby to get away.

Baby Driver asserts its distinct personality from the start, opening with a thrilling car chase set to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The red Subaru that Baby sits behind the wheel of evades the black and whites on its tail, and drifts in and out lanes in a daring fashion. Then come the opening credits which is an infectious scene as Baby gets coffee and dances along to “Harlem Shuffle.” It’s a lively scene that is as carefully choreographed and orchestrated as any of the film’s many action scenes. The impeccable soundtrack that Wright has assembled for Baby Driver guides so much of the film’s kinetic energy, with the rhythms of the music guiding the editing, the action, and camera movements. In a year where The Fate of the Furious was a bit underwhelming, Baby Driver steps up and delivers vehicular mayhem on a smaller scale but a much more satisfying and thrilling whole.

The character of Baby reminds me in a few ways of the eponymous character in Walter Hill’s The Driver. There’s a stoicism to Baby, a character who stays within his own head and only acts and speaks when it finds it absolutely necessary. It’s Deborah that helps Baby shed his protective shell and show a tender side of his personality that is often hidden when in the company of various criminals. Ansel Elgort and Lily James are the heart and soul of Baby Driver, but it’s the harden criminals who really flavor the world that Edgar Wright has created. Jamie Foxx gives a menacing performance as the wildly unstable Bats. His presence along escalate the tension in any given scene and his ways test Baby’s moral code.

A major part that makes Baby Driver so thrilling is the way with which Edgar Wright uses genre tropes to establish a set of expectations for the audience only to subvert them in a variety of ways. Just when you think you’ve figured out which direction the film is going, Wright pulls on the emergency brake, turns the wheel, and drifts the film in a completely unexpected direction. Baby Driver isn’t just an action flick; it’s a musical, a romance, and a comedy all wrapped in one sleek, stylish package.

It’s been four years since Edgar Wright last treated audiences to his special brand of filmmaking due to his late departure prior to the start of Ant-Man. But Baby Driver proves that Wright made the right call for his career, because nobody wants to see Wright water down his electric style of cinema that is viscerally thrilling, emotionally engaging, musically inclined, and downright hilarious. Baby Driver is another special film from a special director. I can’t wait to take another ride with Baby Driver.

Baby Driver
  • Overall Score
4.5

Summary

A relentless entertaining joyride of action, music, romance, and comedy, Baby Driver is Edgar Wright’s latest piece of cinematic fun that only proves he’s one of the best filmmakers working today.

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