Film Review: Baby Driver
Phil Turner checks out new crime film Baby Driver, starring Ansel Elgort.
You’ll know Edgar Wright. He’s the guy who made his name directing the cult 90s TV series Spaced, before moving onto helm the ‘Three Cornettos’ trilogy; Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, all starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Baby Driver, his latest, is definitely a departure from his previous work, but not only that, it’s arguably one of the most innovative ‘mainstream’ movies Hollywood has produced in years.
It tells the story of Baby (you’ll recognize Ansel Elgort from Fault in Our Stars), a young, super-talented getaway driver who has been coerced into working for Atlanta crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) since he was old enough to look over the top of a steering wheel. While Doc refuses to allow Baby to leave his ever-changing crew of bank robbers, because he’s his ‘lucky charm’, Baby has fallen for diner waitress Deborah (played by the delectable Lily James) who shares his dream to escape. So far it all sounds like pretty standard stuff, right? Wrong.
The genius of Wright lies in his decision to frame the action almost completely around the film’s unbelievable soundtrack. Baby has tinnitus you see, caused by a traumatic childhood accident and listens to music 24/7 to drown out the high-pitched shrilling. It gives Wright the perfect excuse to cut his dialogue, car chases and gun shots (and boy are there a lot of gun shots in this movie) around the likes of Barry White’s Never, Never Gone Give Ya Up and Martha and the Vandellas’ Nowhere To Run.
From the opening scene which showcases Baby’s jaw-dropping driving skills to the tune of The John Spencer’s Blues Explosion Bellbottoms, this is a film that never lets up. The plot unfolds at a cracking pace and the action sequences (with the exception of an over-elongated finale) are pant-wettingly exciting. The cast are great too. Spacey does what Spacey does so well, being threatening and charming in equal measure, while Elgort is engaging and really well cast in the lead role. John Hamm is increasingly deranged as gang member Buddy while Jamie Foxx steals all his scenes as the quite frankly mental Bats.
It’s a shame James doesn’t get a bit more development as Deborah but while she is on screen, she is a stunning presence, and it’s perfectly believable that Baby wants to quit it all to head for a new life with a girl he’s really only just met.
Innovative, exhilarating and ear-catching, Baby Driver manages to be action-packed as well as emotionally engaging. It’s a seriously well-crafted piece of film making.