Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver poster.jpg
Driving its way into your sound systems

Director: Edgar Wright
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Flea, Sky Ferreira

Choreography has always been an important aspect of Edgar Wright's filmography. Going back to his breakout hit, 2004's Shaun of the Dead, this is apparent in the famous scene where Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" is perfectly timed to the sight of our leads attacking a zombie. But where he crafted that into one lovingly remembered scene, Wright has now applied that to an entire feature film, and the result is more than worth your time.

A talented getaway driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort) uses his skills for the benefit of Doc (Kevin Spacey), a kingpin who masterminds bank robberies, and other high earning heists. Owing a debt to his employer, Baby just wants to escape this dangerous lifestyle, and sees a potential future when his paths cross with Deborah (Lily James), a waitress who wants to escape her surroundings.

From the opening logo, Tinnitus is played over the film. It stays present, until the first track is played to drown it out. It's an intriguing choice, which allows viewers to experience the film from our leads perspective. What follows that is an attention grabbing moment within a car, as Baby rocks out to the first song in the films wonderful soundtrack, which then segues into a stunning car chase that lets viewers know what to expect. After that striking opener, what follows is an equally glorious scene. As Baby walks through the streets to Harlem Shuffle, by Bob & Earl, what occurs can be called an impressive music video, showing it's not just the pulse racing moments Edgar Wright excels at. His kinetic direction is ever present throughout, ensuring that ones attention is utterly commanded.

Image result for baby driver youtubeThe best way to describe this film is as a musical. But instead of dance numbers performed by the actors, we have stunning choreography performed through slick car handling, with some pulse-pounding on foot chases thrown into the mix. When the songs are performed, we don't have the people onscreen joining in with the melodies. Those are instead punctuated by the well timed usage of gunfire, police sirens, and various other sounds from the streets of Atlanta. It's delivered thanks to some masterful craftsmanship, done with utter precision and the most effective use of timing.

It's said that Wright sent the scripts out with a note of what specific song would be used where, and it utterly shows. This isn't a case of a soundtrack being thrown together and seeing what sticks, you can feel how integral each song is to the scene it inhabits. There's a clear feeling that each song has been meticulously selected, with the time taken to carefully weave it into the film. Prepare to hear some of these songs, if not the entire soundtrack, for a while, because it's one of the absolute greatest assets here.

As the eponymous getaway driver, Ansel Elgort delivers phenomenally. He puts a believable performance into his character, selling his determination to do the job and get out of the business while he can. He keeps himself closed off to the majority, but is willing to open up to the waitress he envisions a future with, which leaves viewers wanting to be a reality. The Fault In Our Stars brought Elgort into the public eye, but this is the performance that should make him into a star.

Deborah may threaten to remain as just the love interest, but Lily James plays her with such effortless charm, while sharing such sublime chemistry with Elgort, you can't help but overlook that aspect. The romance aspect is on hers and Elgorts shoulders, and the two do such a smooth job with it, leaving one to root for these crazy kids.

Kevin Spacey is ever reliable as usual when portraying Doc, a menacing crime kingpin that Baby works for. The performance is well judged, so one is never sure whether he's acting as more of a father figure, or a horrendous employer. Jamie Foxx gives an unsettling performance as Bats, an impulsive crew member who seems to be at odds with everyone else, no matter who they are. Special mention is deserved to Jon Hamm, who can deliver friendly with ease, and switch to downright chilling without a problem.

For those bemoaning the lack of original cinema, your prayers have been answered in the form of Baby Driver, Edgar Wright's stunning new piece of work. A kinetic joyride that will leave pulses racing, an engaging romance between two lovable souls, a stunning ballet of gunfire and car choreography, and all while set to possibly the best soundtrack of 2017. The film is many things, all of which add up to an exceptional whole. This is a film that deserves to be experienced on the big screen.