Baby Driver is the latest film from Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright, and is something he’s been trying to bring to our screen’s for almost 20 years. It tells the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort), a getaway driver for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby is seemingly always working his last job, but he finds a way out of his life of crime through diner waitress Debora (Lily James). Despite his gift for driving, Baby has tinnitus, and to drown out his “hum in the drum” he uses a variety of curated playlists.
Edgar Wright is an event filmmaker; any time his name is attached to a project, film buffs get excited. His style is so distinctive and his love of film is so evident through his work that he can only really be compared to Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction). Wright’s work often pulls inspiration from horror classics such as An American Werewolf in London or The Stepford Wives. Baby Driver, although a car chase movie, takes much more from films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, Wright ditches many of his usual techniques (crash zooms, whip pans etc.) in an attempt to make a film that’s different from his previous work, resulting in a much more mature piece of cinema. That doesn’t mean serious or boring – the film is still incredibly entertaining.
From a directorial point of view Baby Driver is on par with everything Wright has directed before. However, it does feel somewhat like a step down in terms of his writing. The dialogue is quick and witty, as we’ve all come to expect, but it really suffers in its characters. Other than the titular Baby, the characters’ various motivations are often unclear, particularly in the case of love interest Debora. Wright has done a marvellous job of writing well-rounded female characters in the past (see Ramona from Scott Pilgrim Vs the World). Debora lacks any real motivation and seems willing to leave her whole life at the drop of a hat. She’s effectively just a plot device for Baby to have an escape. Lily James does the most she can with Debora, making her charming and charismatic enough for you to sustain interest in her fate but never really care.
Despite all this there is a whole lot to like in the film, namely the film’s car chases and use of music. The whole film flows to the Baby’s soundtrack; everything is choreographed, and even if you feel that it’s somewhat of a gimmick, it’s undeniably impressive and nothing has ever been pulled off quite like it. My foot was tapping through almost every scene. The car chases are also some of the best in years – they showcase both some of the best stunt driving and beautifully edited camera work I’ve seen. Wright’s fast paced style really melds well with car chases giving them an intensity and fun that’s often missing from many modern action films.
Baby Driver marks the beginning of a new era in Wright’s filmography, a progression into something more grown-up and dark. Although the film never quite reaches the heights of Wright’s previous work it’s still a rip-roaring thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat for the majority of the runtime. Go see it, make sure it does well at the box office so we can get more daring original films like it.
Baby Driver is in cinemas across the UK now. Image source: Parkandpedal.org