By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is an interesting piece of contemporary film. It markets itself as an ultra cool car heist, but it’s also an entertaining love epic / musical. It’s sweet as hell, and stylish as f*ck, but it was missing that trademark Wright humour that we’ve grown to love.
‘Baby’ (Ansel Elgort) is a driver, a very good driver. After getting mistakenly getting involved with crime boss ‘Doc’ (Kevin Spacey), Baby is forced to drive bank robbery getaway cars in order to pay off a debt.
Like any film that’s surrounded by hype, this is a really hard one to review. First of all, this is definitely not a balls out action film, nor is it exactly a musical. Wright has concocted a combination of genres here.
It sure knows how to play with the element of surprise though. The villain card is passed around a couple of times throughout the film, and it certainly keeps you on your toes. There are a number of surprising turns in the plot that make this film stand out from the rest, and that does make it one of the standout movies of the year so far, but occasionally the twists and turns become a bit overwhelming, especially towards the finale where I found myself wanting some more immediate closure rather than things dragging on as they did.
I’d imagine that this must have been a really fun movie to make. The actors would have had a lot of freedom because their characters are just so diverse and are moulded into all sorts over the course of the film. I would have liked to have seen more of Jon Bernthal though. I feel it was a bit of a waste not using him to his full potential… then there’s the car chases which must have been great fun to shoot.
The film has some real Gone in 60 Seconds and other ‘one last job’ nods, especially in the opening 6 minutes which you can now watch for free on YouTube. Wright has managed to do some brilliant work with staging his action scenes to the lively soundtrack which has obviously been carefully selected from his own personal collection – the director himself carries around an old iPod. One shootout scene to the sounds of ‘Tequila’ is particularly memorable, as is the opening heist to ‘Bellbottom’ which inspired the film.
The real star of this film though… is the star of this film.. and that’s Ansel Elgort as Baby. Having only been in a couple of quieter Hollywood productions like The Fault in Our Stars and the 2013 remake of Carrie, the baby faced Elgort was in need of a big break, and boy did he get it here. His ability to brighten up the screen and charm the pants off of you is second to none, especially in that first coffee run which is straight out of a classic Hollywood musical. His ’50s inspired diner romance with waitress Debora (Lily James) was also a nice touch. IndieWire published a list of director Edgar Wright’s favourite car movies recently, but I’d love to see a list of his favourite musicals and romance dramas.
Many say that this is arguably Wright’s best film, and as far as breaking new ground, perhaps it is, but I wouldn’t say that it’s his most enjoyable or entertaining film. Baby Driver could have benefited from having a little more wit and humour like Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy and the unforgettably hilarious Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. This film didn’t have any real laugh out loud moments, nor did it have the snappy pace of his previous titles.
My critique however may be a little subjective on this one – am I a victim of my own expectations as the hype around this film has been so massive? It’s definitely possible. Everyone else seems to love it. Go see Baby, and then go and buy the soundtrack.
Photo: Na Filmu