Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver combines fast cars, heists and a pumping soundtrack to create a thoroughly thrilling and unmissable cinematic experience.
Ansel Elgort plays the eponymous hero, Baby, a talented but troubled teen who blocks out the effects of tinnitus (or ti-night-tus as it’s pronounced by the US cast) by blasting his own personal soundtrack through a set of headphones he constantly wears.
Baby owes a debt to criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey) and is coerced into using his incredible driving talents behind the wheel of a getaway car for a number of dangerous armed heists. In the meantime, he meets Debora (Lily James) at a local diner and soon falls in love, deciding that he’ll ditch the criminal lifestyle as soon as he can.
That’s easier said than done though, and he reluctantly agrees to take one last job with a crew including the cold hearted Buddy (Jon Hamm), the beautiful but deadly Darling (Eiza González) and the frighteningly unhinged Bats (Jamie Foxx). What follows is a fast paced, often humorous and visually dazzling thrill ride that speeds through its runtime at breakneck speed.
Feeling as much like a musical as it does an action film, each scene plays out (and was supposedly choreographed) to the songs on Baby’s iPod. The use of kinetic and inventive camera work, timed perfectly with the fabulous soundtrack means that the film delivers a true explosion of cinematic joy on the screen.
Like much of Edgar Wright’s popular Cornetto trilogy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Baby Driver is packed full of subtle (and not so subtle) nods to cinematic history. Everything’s here from 80s teen movies through to an hilarious nod to Halloween and Austin Powers.
Of course the car chases themselves owe a great deal to classics like The French Connection (1971), The Driver (1978) and Bullitt (1968), but the film adds it’s own mark too. One chase scene in particular sees Baby set out on foot accompanied by the sounds of the suitably over the top ‘Hocus Pocus’ by 70s prog-rock group Focus.
Every chase feels thrilling and unpredictable in a way few other recent action movies have managed to achieve. It’s a spectacle that almost matches the recent high water mark in the genre, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
Wright’s witty script, references to pop culture and close attention to the soundtrack has unsurprisingly already seen Baby Driver compared to the films of Quentin Tarantino. Unlike that director’s most recent work, Wright’s creation feels lean and free of overindulgence.
Each scene is well thought out, lovingly crafted and thoroughly deserving of its inclusion. There is little here that feels like filler or simply a function to move the plot along.
In fact, in a film packed full of exhilarating car chases, it’s two seemingly mundane sounding scenes – one of Baby walking down the street to get coffee and the other of him chatting to his girl in a dry cleaners – that perhaps steal the show.
Baby Driver was clearly made by a movie lover, for movie lovers. So, if you love movies, there’s little chance you’ll have much more fun than going to see this over the summer.