There have been many heist movies. There have been movies focused around their propulsive, serpentine car chases. There have been movies driven forward by a furious, precise soundtrack. But never have these elements been combined in a way so brilliantly as they are in Baby Driver, the latest film by one of the greatest directors working today.
After four years Edgar Wright returns to the directing chair with Baby Driver. The film could best be described as Heat meets Drive in La La Land. Wright introduced the World Premiere at South By Southwest by describing the power of music and how he had the idea that one song could drive an entire movie. From that concept Baby Driver was born and it is a brilliant, thrilling ride.
Ansel Elgort (Fault in Our Stars) plays Baby, the driver who can never be found without headphones in and one of his lucky iPods blaring into his ears. The opening scene shows Elgort behind the wheel dropping off the day’s group of burglars consisting of Jon Hamm, Elza Gonzalez and Jon Bernthal. The opening scene goes from zero to 60 in a millisecond and we feel the musicality and pacing immediately. The action scenes and gun fights are brilliantly choreographed to the music in Baby’s ears. It is fascinating, gorgeous and mesmerizing to watch.
As Baby gets the crew out of the sticky situation and back to safety we meet Kevin Spacey’s character Doc, the mastermind of this heist operation. We learn that Baby is being forced to be his driver and we get a glimpse into Baby’s tragic back story and why music is so important to him.
The cast of Baby Driver is a huge step up for Wright. Wright hadn’t worked with a single actor in this film and that was a big change up from his previous work. Elgort shows a true star presence as the reserved, stoic Baby but still comes off like a bad ass. When we meet Deborah played by Lily James, we see the heart of this film come out and Elgort and James shine on screen together.
Spacey is wonderful as the chess master Doc, Hamm is perfect as the burglar Buddy and Jamie Foxx is a force as the despicable, rebellious Bats.
Edgar Wright has always made fun movies. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs the World and The World’s End all share his light-hearted way of telling a ridiculous melodramatic story with quick cuts, witty dialogue and comedic timing. Baby Driver is the first film Wright wrote entirely on his own and feels like a different film. It truly is a momentous effort to accomplish. There are clear references and influences from films like The Driver and Heat, but also we get the familiarity and joy of Wright’s touch. This is a full-on heist movie made with the exquisite eye and talent of Wright.
With Wright’s films he has always gone above and beyond in ambitious fashion. What results is that he is one of the greatest auteurs of this generation. Baby Driver was Wright taking his game to the next level. While time will tell if it can become as iconic as Shaun of the Dead or Scott Pilgrim, but this is definitely the best film he has ever made.