Every once in awhile, there’s a movie so stylish that it’ll blow anyone away. Ironically, the last time I felt that way about a movie was 2011’s Drive, which shares a very similar premise to Baby Driver. There’s just something about mixing a stellar soundtrack together with intense scenes of car chases and shootouts that blends so nicely and, dare I say it, Baby Driver may have outdone Drive in some aspects.
Edgar Wright is getting up there with Shane Black to me, to say that I just know the type of movie to expect when I hear they’re writing and directing it. They execute style so well that you’ll be nothing but entertained and wowed during the duration of most of their film catalog. Sadly, most of their films also underperform when put up against summer blockbusters, but I hope Baby Driver gets its shine because it deserves it. There is so much that is done right in the film that I honestly can’t think of bad things to say. I was glued to the screen the entire near-2 hour runtime and never felt it to have a dull moment.
One of the best ways Wright accomplishes this is through the use of the soundtrack and the choreography. Just as Ansel Elgort’s Baby has to rewind a track to match the action playing out at one point in the film, Wright manages to do this flawlessly throughout every scene. Baby monitors the progress of a bank heist to the tune of “Bellbottoms”, money is placed out on the table accompanying “Egyptian Reggae”, a shootout has bullet fire match “Tequila”, and more. It’s always noticeable, but never in a way that gets intrusive to your viewing and can honestly enhance it. Elgort’s also pretty damn good at dancing through the streets and in his foster father’s home to several different tracks, making the character of Baby more relatable.
On that point, I have to admit that when I first saw the casting to the film, Ansel Elgort was the only one that made me raise a brow. It felt like he stuck out like a sore thumb in this type of movie among the likes of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Hamm, but he killed it. My original thoughts of miscasting are also played with in the film itself as Baby is someone who was forced into heist getaway driving due to picking a wrong target and paying the price. He isn’t someone who should be in this line of work and he doesn’t really want to either, but has a debt to pay to Kevin Spacey’s Doc. And through Elgort’s sympathetic acting, you start to hope Baby can get out of this seemingly unescapable arrangement too.
As for the other actors, everyone does a fantastic job as well. Kevin Spacey nails the kingpin role of Doc and you can tell that while he has a soft spot for Baby, when he threatens his life and the lives of all those he loves, he means it. Jamie Foxx’s Bats is the most unstable and intimidating of the robbers, which made his unpredictable nature exciting and terrifying to watch unfold. Jon Hamm and Eiza González as Buddy and Darling mostly play dangerous lovebirds for most of the film, but during the final act, Jon Hamm really steps it up. I’d like to see him as a villain more often. I was surprised that Jon Bernthal had only had a prologue role, but he was great at playing his typical asshole persona. And rounding out the leads, Lily James is beautiful and sweet as Debora. It’s easy to fall in love with her girl-next-door type character and you want nothing more than to see Baby and her ride off into the sunset together.
The plot of the film was a bright mark as well, having a good amount of turns that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t piece together from trailers. A thing about heist gone wrong films is that I always enjoy to see a set of heists that actually go well before going into the one that damns it all and Baby Driver gives that. When the 2nd act begins and we finally get to the heist that Baby desperately doesn’t want to be a part of, Wright still allows for the preplanning stages of the heist to be shown, which grants us more time with Bats, Buddy, and Darling. And the 3rd act is nothing but stylish action and intense chases and shootouts. The pacing of the film is another high point as it drifts from action to action at just the right amount, so it never drags on a scene too long. I will say that the ending moments could’ve done a better job at showing how much time has passed, but a previous scene gets the point across.
Lastly, the cinematography is always an important element of making a good film, especially one aiming to be a stylish as Baby Driver. It’s good to say that Bill Pope does a fantastic job with amazing angles and shots during the action scenes and even the more tender moments between Baby and Debora. A favorite element of mine is the transitions made during certain scenes, like a focus on laundry spinning in a dryer transitioning to a vinyl spinning on a record player. It’s subtle and done well several times in the film and definitely deserves some props.
So if you want to see the film that oozes the most damn style in 2017, look no further than Baby Driver. It’s a thriller, it’s a comedy, hell it’s even somewhat of a musical at some points! Everything from the acting to the action to the soundtrack hits it out of the park. I don’t have any problem saying it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year.
Baby Driver – 5 out of 5