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Baby Driver – Movie Review

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Baby Driver – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Sony Pictures

Edgar Wright is deservedly praised for his use of visuals and fast-paced editing in his films, but the way he stitches music choices into the narrative is another key element to his cult success. Songs play such a key role in the titular protagonist’s actions in Baby Driver, that one could easily classify it as a musical. Every turn Baby makes when speeding down Atlanta’s highways are set in time to his desired play list. Wright thus crafts one of the most original action films in recent memory and one can see how every little editing choice and music cue comes straight from Wright’s heart. It’s an appropriate follow-up to his other non-Cornetto film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The two movies would almost certainly make for a wildly entertaining double feature.

Baby Driver is not only a musical, but an effective crime film and love story. Edgar Wright is a master at mixing genres and does it with panache here. He provides the necessary exposition for Baby and why he drives for Kevin Spacey’s criminal overlord. One immediately sympathizes with Baby and his want to make sure the people he cares about the most have the best life possible. Ansel Elgort brings an instant likeability to a protagonist that could have been seen as cold and he shares lovely chemistry with Lily James’s waitress Debora. There is a rooting interest for these two young people to stay together, even when Baby is driven back into pulling a job.

The car chases are where Wright lets loose. He has clearly studied every beat of the songs and he works in sync with his editors Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss. They deserve just as much credit as Wright for how the action sequences come together. These scenes are a lesson in how to do quick cutting. They keep the pacing energetic, without losing clarity. There is never a single moment in Baby Driver where one becomes lost or has trouble telling what is going on. Wright also has an understanding in how not to make the gun fights repetitive. When guns start a-blazing, there’s a purpose behind the characters’ reasoning for doing so. The action scenes are fantastic, but Wright still puts the characters and story first.

The humour is similarly on point. Each actor has a different dynamic with each other. Spacey is immediately a stand-out as one of many bad guys Baby has to contend with. He plays the role utterly straight-faced, which makes his lines that much funnier. Edgar Wright uses his expansive knowledge of cinema to brilliant effect, too. He’s not the sort of filmmaker to include pop-culture references to get easy laughs from the audience. One gag involving Monsters, Inc. of all things comes hilariously full circle and also ties in nicely to Baby’s development. This is a screenplay that will be analysed by film students for its joke construction and clever layers for many years.

Baby Driver is the right summer ride and one of the most enjoyable and consistently funny comedies this year. Everyone puts their A-game into this production and not a single part of Edgar Wright’s vision has been compromised in bringing it to the screen. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the Cornetto Film Trilogy have given Wright cinephile and cult cred and Baby Driver will certainly add further adoration. Audiences who don’t see this film on its initial release and then later catch it on video or streaming services will likely regret it. It deserves to be seen with the most amazing sound system and biggest screen imaginable to get the full scope of Wright’s unique cinematic world.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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