Well. It’s finally here. I’ve been jogging on the spot in excitement ever since the TITLE for this film was released. Edgar Wright has been my filmmaking idol and favourite director ever since I first saw Shaun of the Dead a number of years ago. Since then, he wrote and directed my favourite film of all time; The World’s End.
So as you can probably guess, I had intensely high expectations for Baby Driver. But as my friend and I entered the cinema, we decided it would be unfair to hold Baby Driver to these impossible standards… and so we began to expect something terrible.
With this rollercoaster of expectations, the question still remains… is Baby Driver any good?
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) who never uses the same crew for a job twice… but he always uses Baby.
Baby’s the best driver in the business and it may have something to do with the fact that he’s never found without headphones in his ears blaring 60’s/70’s tunes, playing to drown out the tinnitus he acquired as a child. One day, he meets Debora (Lily James), a waitress who dreams of driving away with the radio on full blast, mirroring Baby’s similar desire to pack up and leave the life of crime he was reluctantly reeled into.
Baby’s pulled in for one more job, with his crew including the lovebirds Buddy (Jon Hamm) & Darling (Eiza González) and the psychopathic killer Bats (Jamie Foxx). But this time, he has a different plan in mind.
Baby Driver has impeccable direction: fast enough that your heart is racing but clear enough so you know what’s going on. The way Wright has timed editing with music in past films is shown on display a lot here. Especially in one scene near the beginning where Baby’s walking to a coffee shop while dancing to Bob & Earl’s Harlem Shuffle where you really start to understand why I love Wright’s films so much.
Speaking of soundtracks… WOW. Some of the tracks used are really just background filler but I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the tracks brought to the forefront: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Bellbottoms; Beck’s Debra; Focus’ Hocus Pocus; Golden Earring’s Radar Love; Barry White’s Never Never Gonna Give Ya Up; Simon & Garfunkel’s Baby Driver (which inspired the title of the film); and the incredibly underrated Queen track Brighton Rock.
Then there’s the writing which I will admit is the film’s minor setback: just barely holding the film back from being perfect. Baby Driver‘s still one of the most original action films to be released in years and it’s overall a very well crafted screenplay but there are the two minor issues called Doc and Debora.
Doc’s character arc is all over the place and I’m still not sure whether he was an antagonist or a friend (Spacey’s okay performance doesn’t exactly help this) and Debora falls in love too quickly. She’s a key character throughout the majority of the film and Lily James brings her to life quite well but the character becomes a major protagonist throughout the final act and some of the actions she takes seem too heavy for having only met the protagonist a few days earlier.
But these two slightly flawed characters are easily compensated by the incredibly performed and written Buddy and Bats (Jon Hamm & Jamie Foxx respectively) who serve as charismatic and important players within the bigger picture.
Overall, Baby Driver isn’t perfect. But that was an unfair standard for me to impose on it in the first place.
Compared to 99% of films released today, it’s incredible. Original, stylish, heart-racing, engaging, a tad overkill in some parts and all wrapped up in one of the best movie soundtracks of all time… Baby Driver is most likely going to be my favourite film of the year. Possibly in my later top 10 of the decade.
4.5 / 5 wrecked cars
What did you think of Baby Driver? What’s your favourite Edgar Wright film? What songs would be in your car chase mixtape? (For mine, see the bottom of this page)
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AFTERTHOUGHT: Since Baby always had just the right song for just the right moment, it got me thinking which classic tracks I’d have to cover my hypothetical high-speed crimes. And I arrived at these 8. What are yours?
Alice Cooper – I’m So Angry
AC/DC – Riff Raff
Focus – Hocus Pocus
Paul McCartney & Wings – Nineteen Hundred & Eighty-Five
The Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen
Elton John – Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
Boston – Smokin’
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird