US, 118 min
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenplay: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm
BABY DRIVER is Edgar Wright’s stunningly exciting take on the action-heist genre. Wright breaks the standard mold by interspersing music and an above board love story into a film which breathes new life into heavily treaded territory.
Reminiscent of Refn’s fantastic noir-ish film DRIVER starring Ryan Gosling, BABY DRIVER is the simple story of BABY a smoother-than-silk getaway driver for hire, who finds himself forced into a position of needing to loosen his own moral limits to save himself and the people he loves. Baby, played phenomenally apt by Ansol Elgort, shows from the get-go his overabundance of skill mixed with style, be it behind the wheel or simply walking down a (chalked full of Easter treats) street grooving his way seamlessly between scenes.
Any film fan who is privy to Wright’s work, knows his style of storytelling is fast, active, and most importantly highly satisfying. Wright has an ability to ride the fine line between hip young fresh content and true art. Scott Pilgrim for example could easily be dismissed by an ageist audience as leaning too heavily towards a younger hipper crowd than it rightfully does.
Wright chooses to utilize the fast edit MTV style during pivotal scenes in most of his films. Cleverly, though, these jump edits and fast pacing hit the intended mark of creating tension and adrenaline in the audience very well in BABY DRIVER. The stand out in this film though is his use of music. BABY DRIVER is as much Wright’s interpretation of a modern day musical as it is an action film. The music is so integral to each scene and the characters, that it deserves top billing on the marquee. There is little doubt that in a just world the entire sound dept. (starting with sound mix all way to sound editor) would receive the numerous accolades they deserve for flawlessly integrating everything from Foley to the music with images on the screen.
Take a selection of top notch actors, exhilarating action, and a brilliantly integrated soundtrack. Add a dash of the “cool kids in school” hipness and you have BABY DRIVER. Jon Hamm, playing Buddy an accomplice in crime of our hero, shows his deep range as an actor while he nibbles the scenery. Jamie Foxx, another accomplice of our hero, steals most of the scenes effortlessly as he recites his pre robbery mantra to everyone “the money in there is ours, they broke into our house last night and stole it. We are only taking back what’s ours.” Foxx illustrates brilliantly the modern film anti-hero. The audience should hate everything about these people, but they can’t. The line between right and wrong becomes blurred as the audience clinches to the edge of their seat, hoping for the ruthless to claim their victory. Young Ansol Elgort not only holds his own amongst heavyweights like Kevin Spacey, he owns the coolness of the scene despite playing alongside Flea, potentially the coolest of the cool musicians. Elgort, due in some part to Wright’s brilliance, brings a sweet and cool vulnerability to the harsh edges of his counterparts.
BABY DRIVER did not so much reinvent a tired premise, choosing instead to bring a fresh take, and drag said premise into the 21st century. This is the kind of film that sticks with the viewer. A smattering of hot, fast, indulgent moments burnt into this reviewer’s mind. Wright possesses rare vision for his art. He chooses time and again to push the expectations of his fans and audience, only to time and again leave everyone highly satisfied.