Director: Edgar Wright
Cast Headliners: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, others.
Original Release Date: June 28th, 2017
Edgar Wright needs no introduction. Rather his style as a director is so distinct..from the buddy romps of the “Cornetto Trilogy” of Shaun of the Dead / Hot Fuzz / The World's End to the incredibly snappy adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs the World. He has a touch of hold mania in everything he does, so to have him create a new film is always an event. Baby Driver continues the tradition of unique, wild, hilarious and action packed films he has made in the past.
The outset and general theme of the film may seem to be generic, but in time it proves to be have many unique redeeming values. A gang of criminals robs banks and the sort with a getaway driver. This crew consists of our hero Baby (Ansel Elgort) and at various times a rotating roster of no-good doing but often likeable crooks including Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling(Eliza Gonzalez), Bats(Jamie Foxx), and less present but additionally Griff(Jon Bernthal), No-Nose(Flea), and JD(Lanny Joon). They work for the criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey). Elsewhere in his life, Baby interacts with a mute roommate Joe (CJ Jones) and finds love in waitress Debora(Lily James).
It's both a large and intimate cast depending on the situation. The rotating group of robbers leaves some amiss such as Bernthal but everyone makes an impression across heists. In time the core Baby/Buddy/Darling/Bats dynamic becomes a great thing about the film, right up there with the best of Pegg / Frost in an American, criminal kind of way. Everyone , aided by snappy writing and usually clever humor, gives a great performance. Particularly Hamm, Foxx, and Spacey. The audience will fid themselves constantly jumping between cheering for, hating, and laughing along and with these interesting criminal characters through ferocity and charm. The dialogue delivery can be almost too punchy and stereotypical but that's a bit of the point one imagines. It just adds to the film's style.
The blend of style and performance ties directly into the hero in Baby. He's a great driver but doesn't talk much (one of a few comparisons to the 2011 film Drive...if that is an ice cube, this is a firecracker). An event in his youth left a ringing in his air and so he constantly listens to music to help him focus and balance things out. This is the first sign of the bland of music and happenings... Elgort was perhaps chosen more for his physical charisma than his charm, as he oddly dances around scenes in tune to his music. A t first this will surprise the viewer, and his standoffish personality may leave some distaste. But over time as the action ramps up, so too does it all make sense from Wright's approach..
This is a movie of a few relationships and interplays but a foremost one, and a place where Elgort succeeds as Baby moreso alongside Lily James as Debora, is the romance. There's (but not overbearing) several warm well done romance scenes that provide a good through line to the film. Their moments together are breaths of charming air in the mania and bleeds chemistry. This I the Scott Pilgrim influence coming through and succeeding.
What defines Baby Driver, because it happens so often, is the blend of action and music. The soundtrack is filled with a large variety of pop, rock, funk, etc songs that fit perfectly with where they are placed in a manner t make the Guardians of the Galaxy proud..and then some. More-so than that or others however is that they feed directly into the scenes more than not. Drums become cars crushing into each other. Gun shots become guitar riffs. It's a symphony of action and mania on many clever occasions.
Even on their own the action is incredible. There's plenty of it filled with twists and turns and excitement and blood. Snappy but not hard to keep track of in true Wright style. This cinematic craftsmanship carries into scenes...rotating cameras, close shooting and tracking etc.. it feels real yet surreal in a perfect wild blend.
Constant excitement comes from these musical action moments as well as the plot itself. The trailers appear to give away a lot but in actuality hide so many twists and turns. The plot has many layers, from silly to frantic to even some emotion. The ride runs a bit long and goes in some same strokes, but becomes even more and more worth it. This is best to go in with the blinders on. It will turn out better than expected for one,, and from surprising areas that constantly hide delights.
Edgar Wright has made another wild legend , among-st his best, with this film. The humor, director-ship, story, and uniqueness are high mark. Sometimes the jokes are too silly or it takes some mistakes with character use but these are minor. It's a wild fun film that's worth checking out and is a unique musical highlight of the year so far. 8.75 out of 10