By Thomas Simpson
After walking away from Ant-Man in 2015, Edgar Wright has kept somewhat of a low profile. The director – most famous for his Cornetto Trilogy of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End – enjoyed a brief flirtation with the mainstream with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Despite disappointing numbers at the box office, that film received positive reviews and generated a cult following. Leaving Ant-Man and the relative safety of Marvel was a huge risk. But if he hadn’t made that decision it’s unlikely he would have made his latest film, Baby Driver. No risk, no reward.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver who works for mobster Doc (Kevin Spacey) to pay off a personal debt. Baby is the best in the business, who raises suspicion from the teams he works with due to his age, devil may care attitude and constant listening to music on the job. Doc has one more job for him but Baby wants out, in love with waitress Debora (Lily James) he wants nothing more for the two of them to hit the road and not look back. But Doc isn’t letting him go that easy and Baby is left with little choice.
Oozing with cool and accompanied by a killer soundtrack, Baby Driver is a genre film that is instantly accessible and captivating from the opening. It doesn’t take Wright long to throw us into the action, kicking the film off with a heist, car chase and great tune. The stunts are brilliantly shot with the driving work providing thrills and excitement.
It’s not all about the action though and Elgort and James have an adorable chemistry that makes it impossible not to root for them. They’re two young lovers caught in the crossfires of a criminal world. There are light allusions to True Romance in the way the relationship quickly develops and is framed. Their romance accentuates the plot and doesn’t drag it down in the non-action segments.
The supporting cast is excellent with Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey adding a moral depth to their bad guys. Although both characters are villains they show at certain points that they’re not total monsters even if they both demonstrate they’re capable of evil deeds of pure evil. Jamie Foxx’s Bats is another story. An impulsive and sociopathic bank robber, Foxx adds intensity to every scene he’s in. A ticking time bomb, Bats is unpredictable with his presence exuding death, creating an uncomfortable feeling whenever he speaks.
The film has a nice pace and builds towards an epic chase sequence in the third act that throws in some fun twists just to keep audiences on their toes. Simple storytelling in a stellar script that beautifully translates to the big screen. It may lack the grandiose spectacle of the Fast and the Furious and Mad Max franchises but Baby Driver has a lot of soul with grounded car stunts that are dazzling. Driving comes easy to Baby, but this is a difficult journey for him and an awesome ride for us. R.
Thomas is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.