Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal
Watching pure excellence of craft and performance on screen can be such a treat, especially when the protagonist has a skill unmatched by anyone else in the story. In the case of Baby Driver, we receive an engrossing heist story displaying some incredible chase sequences supported by a tremendous cast.
Working as a getaway driver to pay off a debt, Baby (Ansel Elgort) believes he’s done with the heist business and he can start new with a girlfriend he cares for. That dream gets cut short when he’s asked to take on one last heist or his chance for a fairytale ending may get cut off.
The works of Edgar Wright have become must-sees for me whenever he decides to drop another dime because even if they may not always reach his standard of excellence, he always delivers a fun time. Luckily enough Baby Driver ticks all of the boxes of what makes Wright such a strong director. He always seems to inject a type of energy that feels unique to all of his films whether it be from his soundtrack choices or the editing style that has made his films not very hard to distinguish. Everything comes together in beautiful harmony to bring us this story that presents so much to love as it mixes an old school vibe with a new way of thinking.
The character of Baby makes his unmatched skill in the opening sequence where he works his getaway driving skill. His accomplices enter the bank to do the robbing while he jams out in the car. Sunglasses on and earbuds in, he grooves to the track until he sees them come back. He prepares, they get back in the car and he whips around to escape the threat of law enforcement. It sets the tone not only for his skill, but also the relationship he has with those that work with him. He has lived fewer years and definitely does not have the breadth of experience, but his accomplices trust him because he simply knows how to do his job better than anyone else. The opening scene shows someone who may be young and lively, but also someone who has incredible precision in their craft. Baby’s car driving abilities speak for themselves and as the audience, we know he has something special.
It certainly helps when you have someone like Ansel Elgort portraying the lead character. He may not always nail it with each role he takes on but he embodies the music-loving nature of Baby in a way that makes him affable despite helping others get away with some terrible crimes. Elgort produces his best work as Baby, but the best performances came from everyone else around him. John Hamm portrays Buddy, who serves as a veteran to the group. He and his partner, Darling (Eiza González) get the job done by any means necessary and they’re quite the duo. They seem to be wild cards at times, which makes them a dangerous duo to be around. Then there’s Jamie Foxx as Bats, who has no issue leaving a message through lead if he needs to and then we have the always immaculate Lily James as Debora. She can do no wrong and with the role of Debora, she builds something magnetic about a character that does not have much to do. James has that special charm she brings to all of her roles and she does so once again as Debora.
Baby Driver comes as the first film Edgar Wright released after his departure from Ant-Man, and he looked much better on the other side. He released himself from the restraints of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and crafted something so original and fresh while still employing his style of filmmaking. It comes from the quick-cut edits of Baby in his car and how he operates, but this film had something special, which came from the calibration of music to the action sequences. Wright, along with the editing and sound team utilized songs from the soundtracks and made sure that the gun battles coordinated with the beats of the tunes. It starts at the very beginning of the film when Buddy and Darling get out of his car and continues on for most major sequences. It could be a gunfight on the street or Baby jamming while walking on the sidewalk. It works so well in the story.
The success of this film shows that Edgar Wright thrives with original storytelling, as he crafted this himself and the final product became something special. It contains a strong mixture of action and comedy that’s not afraid to get dark at times. It feels heavier than works like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but it also feels more grounded in its storytelling and the stakes involved. The characters are fierce and the violence escalates to brutal at points, but it adds to the danger Baby and Debora have found themselves as we hope they can make it out.
A film with a plethora of fun sequences and exchanges, Baby Driver can be enjoyed by a wide variety of moviegoers. The driving sequences alone would be worth watching in the way they’re edited and how the sound mix works with it. The film has a delightful cast all playing interesting characters all involved in a game where no one really trusts each other and bullets could fly at any moment. Buckets of fun by a director that continues to impress with his own unique style of filmmaking.