EDGAR WRIGHT HAS CRAFTED A JOYISH AND THRILLING RIDE TO ADD TO HIS STAPLE OF GENRE FILMS, IT’S SURE TO PLEASE AUDIENCES AND ELECTRIFY FILM FANS. IT’S KIND OF A SHAME THOUGH, THAT DESPITE IT’S SHINY ALLURE AND FAST PACED TONE, ONCE YOU LOOK UNDER THE HOOD, THERE’S NOTHING REALLY NEW THERE.
I won’t go so far as to say this film is all style and no substance, because I don’t think that’s fair. Plus if the style is great and thrilling, why complain? And certaintly I’m not one to knock formula, in fact I don’t mind formula, as long as that formula is presented in a way that entertians and thrills, and by god this movie did just that.
Written/Directed by Edgar Wright (“Scott Pilgrim vs The World”, “Hot Fuzz”), “Baby Driver” centers on Baby (Ansel Elgort) a young get away driver for mob boss Doc (Kevin Spacey), and his crew consisting of: the crazy criminal Bats (Jamie Foxx), former wall street broker Buddy (Jon Ham) and his wife Darling (Eiza Gonzolez) and the tough as nails Giff (Jon Bernthal). Together they run high risk bank heist all throughout the city of Atlanta, under Docs’ watchful eye.
But like most heist movies, at least the good ones, the central character always wants out, usually because of a girl. See Baby, isn’t doing this for kicks or to get through his emotional problems, he’s paying off a debt and the sooner that debt gets paid, the sooner he can hit the road with his love interest, Deborah (Lilly James) ,a waitress who is the apple of Baby’s eye. However, like all heist movies, the doom job, wouldn’t be called such unless it completely goes to shit and leaves our character in a state of fight of flight.
There’s no denying that Edgar Wright wasn’t at least partially inspired by the work of Michael Mann, his films such as “Heat”, “Theif” and even to a lesser extent “Collateral” and “Public Enemies” okay all of his crime movies, can be seen within the details of this movie.
Baby Driver owns it though and is able to distract the very familiar story, with a gimmick (and I think it’s safe to call it that), of using an interesting quirk about Baby to the films advantage. See Ansel Elgort’s character has tinnitus which is constant rigging in his ears. It’s because of an accident he had early in his child hood. To live with his condition, Elgort’s character is constantaly listening to music, for two reasons: 1, It drowns out the ringing and 2, It makes the rather repetitive car chases feel more exhilirating and thrilling then they might’ve been without the roucus soundtrack.
It’s to the credit of Edgar Wright that he is able to use this gimmick to help make the movie feel fresh and give it a constant sense of personalilty, because I’m afriad with out it, there’s nothing really new going on here. While watching the film, it was reminding me of “Drive” the brilliant 2011 movie directed by Nicolas Wending Refern, that starred Ryan Gosling.
Thankfully though, while the characters Wright has crafted for this picture aren’t all that groundbreaking of particularly nuanced, the actors are able to make something of them.
I’s always a pleasure to see Spacey, no matter what the role, he brings all his ticks and trademarks to make him engaging. Playing a sort of twisted mentor to Elgort, and trying to walk that line of understanding and a sheer cold business.
Foxx is charismatic as hell, and while I’m not the biggest fan of him as an actor in general, this might be my second favorite performance of his after his role of Max in Mann’s “Collateral”. His character in “Baby Driver”, takes some shots (litterally) that helps steer the film back into the tense and nail biting territory once it starts to become stale.
Hamm and Gonzalez are both great and work effeictively together. They’re like a modern take on Bonnie and Clyde. Gonzalez brings a fluidity of sexy charm and wit, while Hamm is great. There’s a surprising turn with his character in the third act, while not quite believable, when it hits, I was willingly to just roll with the punches.
What about the central actor? Elgort is perfectly fine as Baby, this is clearly his best role, it helps that he has amazing chemstry with Lily James, and his arch although nothing to get too attached too, serves well for the story and makes for a fun journey.
I don’t suspect that with “Baby Driver”, Wright was trying to return to his usual formula of meta textual commentary about the genre he’s tackling, like his previous four films. I suspect he was just trying to get an idea that has been in his head for a while and wanted to present it to the audience and on that level, as a pure excerise in his and the actors talents, the movie works, but only on an execution of style.
The car chases though reptitive never become stale or dull, because of the great music that being played behind it. Likewise for the action beats, such as shoot outs and foot chases, and the chemestry between Elgort and James works so well again because of the music and style.
In an effort to hopefully stop repeating myself, I will close with, this is probably my 3rd favorite Edgar Wright film, the first being “Scott Pilgrim” and the second being “Hot Fuzz”.
Baby Driver, I think is probably the least complex in terms of his films. Having an aruguably morally reprehensable character, and tackling his faults, but it’s still makes for a great thrilling popcorn film. Making it a nice modern peice, that is a guaranteed audience pleasure.