This is the second time director Edgar Wright has made my favourite movie of the year! Seven years ago Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World came crashing in poised as a summer hit and instead flopped destined to become a cult classic. Since then the director has done ‘almost’ two movies besides this one. The World’s End which many of his fans loved but was a disappointment for me, indulging in his worst habits as a director. Around that time he had spent eight years developing Marvel’s Ant-Man but left shortly after shooting began citing creative differences with Disney. Now, the British director is back making his first film in four years with a new studio and his first film stateside. This movie has also been developed for a number of years and comes distributed by Sony of all companies who usually only make one good movie a year. Well this one’s a winner!
Baby Driver is an action-comedy with a great cast, slick direction and an infectious rhythm behind it. It adds a twist to the sub-genre of car chase movies not only by having a younger than average protagonist and playing as a sort of rock opera (more on that later) but also by having a good excuse for it too as the title character has Tinnitus (simplified, a ringing in the ears) and plays music to drown it out. Now, other movies in history have done well with soundtracks. Earlier movies like The Big Chill spring-loaded itself with interludes with that bookended scenes and would later become big hits on the chart tracks. Other recent movies like Guardians of the Galaxy used classic pop songs to set the tone of the roller coaster ride they were about to deliver. However those great and future classic movies didn’t have Edgar Wright, who is able to do both in his signature editing style (studied in several YouTube videos) mixing up classics with new songs and proving again that he is a master at generating momentum, only this time he finds a plot that puts that rhythm & momentum to good use.
No longer does a movie of his feel like it drags on past its prime. Either in the case of being ironic like in Hot Fuzz, or due to an exposition pile on like the end of The World’s End, or even the Scott Pilgrim adaptation where it finished up before its source material thus not knowing how to resolve its characters, here the movie is so fast with appropriately paced brakes (haha) that when it arrives at the finish line it knows exactly how to treat its characters and reward us for getting there. Due to its thriftiness in serving audiences, some critics have complained that the film isn’t heavy enough and goes down like a dessert rather than the main movie meal they expect. I don’t really see that as a bad thing, or even as a valid complaint as that’s exactly the kind of film I like to look for. A movie that is fresh and entertains first. Besides it’s not as if there’s little to admire.
Good actors like Kevin Spacey and Jon Bernthal in small roles still serve a purpose here and are not wasted like they would be in other Hollywood roles. Every character serves a story function and that is representative of good writing. At the forefront in a supporting role as he does best, Jamie Foxx in an action film surprisingly reminds us why he’s an Oscar caliber actor doing his best work since Django Unchained. As ‘Baby’, Ansel Elgort who was annoyingly forgettable in The Fault In Our Stars, redeems himself showing that (similar to Mark Wahlberg) he just needs the right direction. He is an effective and funny protagonist that I cared about and rooted for, despite being jealous at his success as an actor for being 6 months younger than me.
Baby Driver is the perfect summer entertainment, it has good amounts of action and romance (it’s Augustus Waters & Cinderella for Pete’s sake), great humour (both written and visually), and is tensely delivered and expertly paced in a nice fresh package. It has its own unique style that I don’t think could be replicated by another director, and it is without a doubt my favourite movie of the year! You should go see it as fast as you can.
Rating: A / On the Filmgamer Continuum Scale: +3
-3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3
Baby Driver is in Theatres Now!
Sony Pictures Presents, An Edgar Wright Film, “Baby Driver” Starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx, with Eiza Gonzalez and Jon Hamm Cinematography by Bill Pope, Editing by Jonathon Amos and Paul Machliss, Music Consultant Kirsten Lane
Running Time/ 113 Mins. (also the quickest end credits you’ve seen)
Additional notes; I was going to say cinematographer Bill Pope does his best work here but then I checked his resume and saw that he shot The Matrix and Spider-Man 2 and thought never mind I had confused him with Edgar Wright’s other cinematographer Jess Hall. Checking their credits I have not seen Ghost in the Shell yet so I cannot comment. I find it weird that Steven Price is credited with the score given that it is entirely licensed music, though some was created specifically for the film, we have a Carter Burwell No Country For Old Men situation. Where’s the music?!
- This is the movie I wanted ‘Drive’ to be