Edgar Wright is one of those directors who I implicitly trust, you tell me he’s got a new movie coming out, that’s all I need to be there opening night. It’s been four years since The World’s End and his leaving Ant-Man but Baby Driver was worth the wait.
Ansel Elgort plays Baby (B-A-B-Y, Baby), a getaway driver for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) who was involved in a car crash as a child that killed his parents and left him with tinnitus in his ears that he drowns out with an almost constant stream of music from his trusty iPods. He also uses the music to time his getaways, which makes him the best in the business. Indebted to Doc, Baby has to work with a rotating cast of criminals, since Doc never uses the same group twice, which includes the likes of Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez and Jamie Foxx. Baby also falls for sweet waitress Debora (Lily James), who shares his love of music, and plans to try and escape his criminal life. Baby Driver, like most Wright movies, takes influence from a bunch of crime/heist films like Heat and it’s plot is fairly standard for the genre (Baby has “one last job”, the criminals inevitably turning on each other) but what makes it feel fresh and unique is Wright’s incredible editing and pacing. Everything in this movie is timed with pinpoint precision to the soundtrack, from the gunfire to random street noise, and it frequently feels like a musical, just with car chases and shootouts instead of dance sequences (Although Elgort does bust out some dance moves frequently). The musical choices are all great across the board, rivaling something like Guardians of the Galaxy, and Wright, along with being a brilliant director, is also like your coolest music fan friend, recommending deep cuts along with some tried and true hits (Some example tracks are Hocus Pocus by Focus and Brighton Rock by Queen).
The action of Baby Driver is also fantastic, from the opening car chase proving Baby’s skills to an incredible foot chase toward the middle that feels like if Point Break and Heat had a baby. The movie is also incredibly funny as well, which you should expect from the man who brought us the Cornetto Trilogy, but it’s not a straight comedy and things like the climax get especially serious and dark, mostly thanks to a frightening turn from Jon Hamm. Speaking of Hamm and the rest of the cast, their characters are fairly stock but are elevated by the people playing them. Jamie Foxx is basically a slightly more dangerous version of his Horrible Bosses character while Spacey seems to be having a blast as the dry but loquacious Doc. One disappointment is that Jon Bernthal is really just a cameo, possibly due to having to go shoot Punisher(?) but he’s great as usual in the 5 minutes he’s around. Ansel Elgort is surprisingly great as Baby, although to be honest I’ve never really seen him in his YA baiting previous movies. He’s charming and fun and like the brighter/happier version of Ryan Gosling in Drive. Lily James is also incredibly charming as well and she and Elgort have great chemistry.
I don’t know if Baby Driver is my favorite Edgar Wright movie but that’s like comparing the five most delicious steaks in a steakhouse. It’s an absolute blast of a movie that features incredible action, fun characters and it’s a marvel of precision editing and soundtrack integration. If you love Edgar Wright and/or heist/crime films, this is a must see.