Don’t let the title fool you; with themes like money, sex, robbery, and rock n’ roll, Baby Driver will have audience members hitting puberty in no time! The general storyline may be familiar to viewers but director Edgar Wright presents this narrative in a bold new fashion. From the minute the film starts audience members can tell that they’re in for 113 minutes of jam-packed action and a funky soundtrack to accompany it.
Baby Driver is the story of Baby; a brilliant, young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who lost both his parents in a car crash, and due to permanent auditory damage he perpetually listens to music to drown out the constant hum in his ears. Every action in his life is scored by a song eventually leading to him realizing he can rely on the beat of the music to be the best getaway driver. After boosting the wrong man’s car Baby is stuck working as a driver for a crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) until his debt is paid in full. When he meets Debora, the girl of his dreams (Lily James), he sees a chance to leave his life of crime behind and hit the road with nothing but a car, his girl, and the music. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in previous movies, the “last big score” is never as easy as it seems.
His last name aside, there is so much that director Edgar Wright did right with this film! The best way to describe it is, in a very Blues Brothers way, “it’s like a musical without people breaking out into sing-song and dance every moment.” The musical cues in this movie were brilliantly done; everything from the shooting of a gun to repetitive beat of a drum to the names of famous songs displayed on the background architecture, every piece was the perfect balance of subtlety and sophistication. It wasn’t so much a soundtrack but more like the audience was in Baby’s ears, hearing what he hears through his headphones, and it’s clear the music he listens to is both his escape from the world but what also keeps him grounded to it. Another subtle gesture of Wright’s is that as the tone of the movie changes the soundtracks shifts accordingly; the moments of love are scored by uplifting tunes from the 60’s but while the plot darkens the tunes shift to 80’s rock or songs filled with melancholy. Also, the casting choices were PERFECT! I love that Wright didn’t try to make Baby an overly muscled bad boy, but instead went with Ansel Elgort, a good-looking kid, borderline James Dean-esque, who has a heart of gold. His love interest, Lily James, has a baby face (pun intended) and her subtle beauty is even more exaggerated by her naïve views on the world. Kevin Spacey’s character clearly has a soft spot for Baby but you also know he wouldn’t think twice about hurting someone he loved to get what he wants. Spacey’s main robbery crew consists of: Jon Hamm plays Buddy, an ex-Wall Streeter who robs to “keep the nose bag full”, Hamm’s stunningly badass wife Darling, is played by Elza Gonzalez, who eggs on her husband’s bad behavior, and the wild card is Jamie Foxx who plays a character named Bats & as his name implies, he’s bat s**t crazy.
Elgort is engaging to watch, James is adorably refreshing, Hamm is sexy as ever, Gonzalez’s beauty is scene-stealing, Foxx is an unpredictable rollercoaster of emotions, and I’m pretty sure Spacey’s having the time of his life. It may not be an Oscar winner but so far, it’s the most fun I’ve had “joyriding” in theatres this year.
**This review was originally written for The Barbershop Show**