BABY DRIVER (UK|USA/15A/112 mins)
Directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal.
THE PLOT: Atlanta resident Baby (Ansel Elgort) suffers tinnitus from a childhood accident. He uses a jukebox collection of music to drown out the humming. It also acts as the soundtrack to his exciting life as a getaway driver for Doc (Kevin Stacey), whom he owes some favours. Working with different crews including Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), Bats (Jamie Foxx) and Griff (Jon Bernthal), Baby is the odd one out but he’s a devil behind the wheels, able to get his crew out of the tightest robberies. Baby thinks he has one job left for Doc, but he’s wrong. Doc isn’t going to let go of his best asset so easily, especially when Baby develops an interest in sparky waitress Debora (Lily James) and wants to break free…
THE VERDICT: In the most recent issue of Empire, Edgar Wright submitted a list of his favourite fan films. Nestled at no. 10 is Walter Hill’s 1978 film ‘The Driver’. It was an influence on ‘Drive’ and is undoubtedly an influence on Wright’s new film ‘Baby Driver’. However, Wright gives the film his own distinctive spin, set against a jukebox soundtrack which must count as among the best of the year. In a summer of superheroes and franchise sequels, ‘Baby Driver’ is a highly original blast not only of fresh air but of adrenaline.
The key component here is the soundtrack. Rather than have a soundtrack that just plays out, Wright has selected the songs to fit the tone of specific scenes, much like George Lucas did with ‘American Graffiti’. Not only that, but the songs are infused into the character of Baby himself. There has to be music playing for him to even be aware of what’s going on. Wright’s screenplay launches you straight into meeting Baby doing what he does best, before shifting down a gear to explore Baby’s backstory and his sweet, tentative romance with Debora. As befits a film about a getaway driver, the pacing is streamlined and moves like a bullet.
The characters are so beautifully written by Wright that the actors don’t even have to do that much. Elgort dials down his performance, letting the physicality and quirky humour of the character take over (he creates songs from snippets of people’s conversations, to amusing effect). It’s a perfect sync-up between the writing, performance and direction. There are also some superb, adrenaline-fuelled car chases and shoot-outs, shot in camera for added realism (no ‘Fast & Furious’ CGI here). Wright also makes excellent use of his Atlanta locations, a refreshing change from the usual New York or Los Angeles setting.
For once, here’s a summer film where you can actually believe the hype. ‘Baby Driver’ is fully deserving of all the accolades it’s been getting. It’s smart, funny, zippy and strongly character-driven (literally). It’s arguably Wright’s best film so far and is super cool enough to become a future cult item.
RATING: 4.5 / 5
Review by Gareth O’Connor

  • emerb

    “Baby Driver” is not the film you might expect from director Edgar Wright, he who brought us “Scott Pilgrim”, “Spaced” and “Shaun of The Dead”. With cult classics like these, he has nothing to prove but in my opinion, this is his most ambitious film and it proves that he’s just getting better. It doesn’t feat neatly into one particular genre. It’s a car chase movie driven by music but also a comic crime caper, a love story and an edge of the seat thriller. Starring Ansel Elgort who takes the wheel as “Baby”, a young getaway driver who speeds along highways completely unaware of what is happening around him, as long as he has the beat of music in his ears, it also features a stellar supporting cast which includes Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm.

    Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a man of few words, whom we first meet as the talented getaway driver for a gang of criminals who operate under kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey). The gang includes smarmy Buddy (Jon Hamm), his lady friend, Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) and the gruff Griff (Jon Bernthal). When Baby was young, he lost his parents in a car accident that left him with permanent hearing damage. To drown out the constant ringing in his ears, he now listens to music nonstop, especially while on the job. Baby is not happy however and wants to flee from this life of crime. When he meets good-natured diner waitress Deborah (Lily
    James), he sees a way out of the life. The two bond over their shared taste in music, and desire to get out of the drab lives they lead. Baby soon decides he’ll take the money he has made and whisk her off on a never-ending road trip on the open road with an iPod full of tunes. But Doc has different plans and insists he completes one final job that threatens to destroy his happily ever after. All hell breaks loose…..

    Elgort gives a career best performance here in the title role, dominating almost every scene. Whether he is zipping around in a car with his headphones dangling round his neck, secretly recording the banter of those around him to make remix tapes, caring for his foster dad or wooing his sweetheart, he’s an impressive presence on screen. He’s confident and charismatic and his chemistry with Lily James is intense and heartwarming. However, he’s not alone as the supporting cast are a real strength of the film. Spacey as Doc is menacing and eccentric, Jon Hamm and Eiza González nail the bizarre crime partners with wonderful performances and Jamie Foxx gives us his best deranged and violent criminal.

    It has to be said that “Baby Driver” is one of the most thrilling and original films in a long time. Edgar Wright has taken a ridiculous concept and turned it into a stylish, high-octane, well-choreographed masterpiece of violence, action, drama and even romance. The action and car chase scenes are marvellous, phenomenally well done, every bit as good as the Fast and Furious series. It was very clever to set the whole film to music but if I had one complaint about the film,
    it would be the selection of tracks. Dare I say I think the songs could have been better? Maybe music lovers out there will disagree but from a personal point of view, I would have liked to have heard more instantly recognisable classics. Having said that, the music was lively and upbeat, matching the outrageous action sequences and I think it was a smart move from Wright to avoid anything too current. The final showdown was highly impressive top class filmmaking, involving multiple crashing vehicles, guns, violence, betrayals and surprises. This film is one a hell of a rollercoaster ride – wildly entertaining, sweet, funny and exhilarating. I loved it!

  • Martin

    Fast paced action movie that ticks all the boxes for me. It’s my favorite movie so far of 2017 and I’m actually dying to see it again. Edgar Wright has got this one spot on. This is going to be huge as word of mouth gets around. Loved it

  • Joseph McCarthy

    Edgar Wright shows exactly what he can do when given the time and money to develop his own passion project. Baby is the getaway driver for a crime boss in Atlanta who has his own personal soundtrack for each job, but has no taste for the violence of the acts he has to escape from. After paying off his debt, and meeting the girl of his dreams, he just needs the killer track to get out of his old life. Each and every frame oozes Wright’s trademark style, each character is well rounded, and it’ll be a long time before you see anything like this on screen again. See it. Repeatedly.