Baby Driver – Review

Ansel Elgort as Baby in Baby Driver – Courtesy of Sony Pictures.

If quick editing and witty dialogue are your jam, get in loser, because Baby Driver will take your on a road-trip to a highway of it.

Baby Driver follows the story of a young man named Baby (Ansel Elgort) with a debt on his hands, he’s the getaway driver, but here’s the catch, he’s gotta listen to his beats while driving.

Edgar Wright is back as the writer/director of his new film Baby Driver – this time he has thrown comedy aside and aimed solely for character development and non-stop thrills in this action crime thriller. With the relatively new actor Ansel Elgort playing the lead character Baby and A-list actor Kevin Spacey as the calculated mastermind of the squad, Baby Driver balances characters and their personalities to keep each individual feeling fresh and new. This film delves into some imagery throughout the story but it’s mostly a heist film, and a love story thrown within to up the stakes. I’m glad the film dipped into Baby’s character as a whole – despite Baby being loosely based off James Sallis’ Drive (2005) novel; this doesn’t detract from the originality of the character, yes he is quiet, yes he is and isn’t a hero, so there are some themes which carry over, but he feels like a full character. Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Eiza Gonzalez are all members of the crew that perform the heists and are all fantastic additions to their respective roles; with each character feeling like they could have had their own standalone film, both Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey were standout. Lily James plays the love interest and was placed in the film to further explore Baby’s character; she was great in this role just like the rest of the cast, though I felt the love story was a tad abrupt. We also get an unexpected performance from Baby’s foster father as a mute older man and father-figure to Baby throughout the story; he provides an additional emotional kick that the story utilized extremely well.

Baby Driver is a story that exists for its characters; it follows its own instinct in what to do next and it never has any real story revelations to try and impress the audience, it utilizes its characters and displays itself as a kick ass action film successfully. In the end, the overall structure of the film had some pacing issues and did feel slightly uneventful in the grand scheme of things – however, just by watching the film it becomes evident that each scene has been given absolute care, on a smaller scale, it’s handled so well, on a larger scale, Wright could have benefited from focusing on some more arcs in the story. None of this really detracts from the film being a master-class in visual action, and it truly gets your heart pounding in the tension driven moments.

This film’s editing is top notch, with cuts and camera movements synchronizing with the beat of the soundtrack, you can’t help but smile. You get amazing stunts and cinematography throughout, and some impressive camera-work with long takes. It seems that Wright has taken a step back from the extremely dense quick-cuts seen in films like Hot Fuzz (2007), while it may feel less like your classic Edgar Wright film, it is appropriate for the genre, as much of his camera-work and editing is used for comedic purposes in his other films. Some of the long-takes had to sacrifice some realism, these gripes are very specific but do exist when attempting to create a large scale long-take in a film. The costuming and makeup design felt very throwback and all came together to give each character a distinct feel, I applaud the subtle style it had, as it never went pretentious with its retro theme. The visuals felt like this film was made with a $120 million dollar budget when in reality it had 4 times less – not only that, learning that 95% of the stunts were practical made the stunts feel all the more impressive.

Baby Driver is impressive in nearly all its aspects, and while it isn’t my favorite Wright film, it has master-class visuals from a master-class director – performances are touching and unique, and you get a fresh story that truly felt like a shiny coat of paint. With explosive action and a timed soundtrack to get anybody’s foot tapping, Baby Driver is a joy ride that doesn’t stop until the credits roll.

9.2/10

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