If you’ve ever been driving your car, and suddenly felt the urge to put pedal to the metal whilst a ‘banging’ tune blasts from your iPod, as you imagine being in a car chase, then Baby Driver will definitely strike a chord with you! Director Edgar Wright has taken that concept and turned it into the slickest beat-ridden film of 2017.
Ansel Elgort is the ‘Baby’ driver of the title – a young, clean-cut music enthusiast who has mysteriously ended up working for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) as his loyal getaway driver. Doc puts together crews of various unsavoury sorts to pull of heists, but one thing remains constant – Baby is going to step on the gas and do the driving, and look as cool as possible while doing it. Donning 80’s shades, earphones permanently in place and armed with an iPod full of pulsating tracks, he outruns police helicopters, negotiates traffic and gets the bad guys back to the safe house every time.
The driving sequences are superbly executed, with Wright weaving Baby’s choice of music into the very fabric of the sequences themselves. He cuts and edits to the beat of the track, injecting the set pieces with extra razzle-dazzle that outdoes anything seen in a Fast & Furious movie. In fact, the editing of the entire piece is masterful, with much of the on-screen action, such as gunshots, perfectly matching the music’s beats.
The opening credits sequence alone is marvellous, as Baby dances down the street perfectly lip-synching to the soundtrack, with song lyrics appearing in the scene via graffiti and posters - all in total synchronisation. Stupendous!
Story-wise, things are kept nice and simple. Baby just isn’t suited to the life of crime he’s ended up in, and after meeting waitress Deborah (Lily James), decides to get out. But Doc has other ideas, and forces Baby to pull off one last job. Things, of course, spiral out of control…
Baby Driver’s other players – John Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, John Hamm and Jamie Foxx are all excellent, and lend some real weight to the comic-style underworld that Wright has created. Each have their own personal opinions on Baby and his odd personality, and several scenes are peppered with edge-of-your-seat tension as various team members start to question Baby’s motives. Bernthal – last seen as The Punisher in the superb Marvel’s Daredevil – brings a real menace and danger to the movie in what ends up being a very fleeting appearance. Jamie Foxx has the badass routine nailed down to a tee as the violent Bats, but the real standouts Made Men’s Hamm as Buddy, a former Wall Street guy who’s fallen in love with ex-stripper Darling (Gonzalez) - both characters simply ooze cool and really light up the screen.
But this is all Baby’s show, and Elgort is superb. Often devoid of emotion and always wearing a poker face, he still allows the audience to see things from his perspective so we can sympathise with his character and situation. He may work for the baddies but his morals are sound and he strives to protect those he cares for, knowing only too well that Doc and his crew would take the first opportunity to blackmail and exploit him through his loved ones.
The final hour is glorious – pulsating high-octane action, tight editing, a superbly deranged performance from Hamm and a hero you really root for. If only all films were this good.
Action-packed entertainment with a rip-roaring soundtrack that’s woven into the very fabric of the movie. Simply stunning.