Edgar Wright’s latest cinematic offering Baby Driver has caused shock waves of excitement amongst fans, nerds, journos and cinemagoers, and it seems all the hype and five-star reviews are more than deserved.
Just when you think there’s nothing new, everything’s a rehash, cliché or superhero universe type situation, something fresh and wonderful like Baby Driver comes along. This movie could have been just another heist-action-movie-with-good-music but it’s actually next level as the action, story and characterisation are all played out to a very meticulously selected soundtrack; something that is presented so perfectly from the opening single take shot that first introduces us to the movie’s antihero ‘Baby’.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver who’s fallen into working for crime kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey). It’s not his ideal kind of work, and he’s not your usual criminal. Outside the fast lane of heisting, he cares for his elderly deaf foster father. Baby was orphaned as a child when his parents were killed in a car accident, the same accident that has caused him to have tinnitus. This is the reason why he needs to permanently don headphones blasting his favourite tunes. Of course, this is not the life he wants, so when he meets a diner waitress called Debora (Lily James), their hearts entwine and his motivation for a fresh start is planted.
Edgar Wright is a film superfan/director/writer and makes movies to reflect his obsession which are fun, clever, hilarious and wonderfully energetic. He brings with him an originality factor that feels familiar enough for it to ease gently into your psyche while simultaneously hitting you right in the hypothalamus.
Baby Driver has so much cool it should be pretentious, but in fact, its genius is that it has so much fun with its own ingredients. There’s the top Hollywood A-lister cast including Jamie Fox, Kevin Spacy and John Hamm. The brilliant fast-paced car chases and action pieces make the likes of John Woo look like old hat and mean that your own breathing process needs a constant reminder. There are even some shock and gore moments that are worthy of Tarantino’s best. The script also levels, or even surpasses, Wright’s other sharp and witty tongued amusing screenplays like Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz.
Leading man Ansel Elgort’s rather unexpected cinematic swagger just burns through the celluloid cementing him as an addictive screen icon. The intriguing and pure love interest of Debora, is played by Lily James with subtlety and heart, with her chemistry alongside Elgort being truly electric. Jamie Fox and John Hamm add a combo of villainy that is brilliantly played allowing for comedy, intimidation and downright cray cray-ness.
Of course, we must talk more about the…well… much talked about soundtrack. The music really is a bigger star than all the big stars in the film rolled together. The eclectic mix features killer tracks with big beats as well as pop, rock and soulful melodies from the likes of T.Rex, The Beach Boys, Barry White, Queen, Carla Thomas and Sam & Dave.
Baby Driver woke me up, it made me remember why I fell in love with cinema. I was totally enthralled and delighted by every second, making it my favourite film of the year. You should find the biggest screen with the loudest sound system that you can to view this masterclass in entertainment and filmmaking.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.
Baby Driver is out in NZ Cinemas from 20 July.