Review - 'Baby Driver'
Edgar Wright is finally back where he belongs; making original films full of unique stylistic choices and fun characters. I'm as sad as the next guy that he didn't end up directing Ant-man, but in the end I think that was all for the best, because that only fueled Wright's fire for immensely entertaining and heart-stopping Baby Driver.
The film follows Baby (Ansel Elgort), a young man who is repaying a debt by serving as the getaway driver in heist jobs for Doc (Kevin Spacey), a kingpin who employs a revolving door of various criminals for each of his many jobs. When the debt is paid, Doc knows that Baby is too good to just let go and through threats to his loved ones, gets him to come back. As Baby falls for Debora (Lily James) a waitress at a restaurant he frequents, he realizes he has to get out, no matter what.
Baby Driver is such an infectiously fun film to watch. There are very few movies out there today that keep me entertained for every second of their run time, but this one did it. There's not one dull moment to be had here. This is thanks to the direction. You can tell that Baby Driver was something of a passion project to writer/director Edgar Wright. Wright manages to tell a cohesive and engaging story, while also imbuing every scene with style and substance. A miraculous feat indeed.
The main hook of Baby Driver is that its titular character listens to music constantly to drown out the tinnitus he suffers from. Thus the film is filled cover-to-cover with music. This could have been a train-wreck if the movie were helmed by lesser hands. I mean, you only have to look as far back as last summer to see how Suicide Squad was crushed under the weight of having way too many licensed songs in all of the wrong places. Thankfully, it works perfectly in this film because music is tied to the character in a way that makes sense. Every moment in Baby Driver is enhanced because of the music. Music is so tied to the character that it becomes the heart-beat of the film that keeps propelling it forward.
It also helps that the film has one of the best casts you could ask for. Ansel Elgort, though he's already made a bit of a name for himself, really shows why he's A-list material. The material he is given allows him to show his talents in so many different way and you are constantly rooting for him. Lily James plays Baby's love interest, Debora, and though her character could use a little more agency, she's absolutely adorable and her chemistry with Elgort is believable from the very first second they meet. Kevin Spacey, who plays Doc, is great but he really doesn't get much of a chance to expand upon his usual shtick. Jonn Hamm and Jamie Foxx round out the main cast, and they are both excellent as two very different but equally compelling criminals.
Yet another aspect of Baby Driver that absolutely works are its action sequences, of which there are way more than I was initially expecting. The action here is staged and shot in a way where you always know what is happening, which is impressive considering just how many variables are factored in to every set-piece. Even more astonishing is how well Wright was able to sync up these sequences to the music. Believe me, you're going to wish gunshots were always fired to the beats of music after watching this.
It pains me, but despite everything I've said, the film isn't quite perfect. As great as the movie's final act is, there are some very questionable decisions that see characters making decisions that are against their very nature. There's one character in particular who is portrayed as evil but makes a complete about-face in the final moments. I wouldn't have had a problem if the seeds for this turn were planted earlier in the film, but they're not and the resulting change in character is an unearned moment. I also took issue with Debora and her unflinching devotion to Baby. Her willingness to follow Baby no matter how insane some of the things he's involved was not believable, even within the confines of the borderline cartoonish world that Wright has established.
All said, Baby Driver is an excellent film through-and-through. If you have been waiting on bated breath for a great, original film to help pull you through another summer full of cash-grabs and sequels, you should not hesitate for one second and pay your money forward to see Baby Driver.