Sex, cars, guns and tunes baby.
Before you read any further, this review contains major spoilers. Want a spoiler-free review? Here it is: Watch Baby Driver. It’s THAT good. Go give Edgar Wright your money.
So if you haven’t watched writer-director Edgar Wright’s newest film yet, go do so and stop reading here because we’re speeding into this going 95.
You and your gang of thieves have a well thought-out master plan to rob a bank and get away in a *puts on sunglasses* get away car. You’re tense, anxious, hyper focused, partially numb, and intoxicated by the thrill of it all. A series of actions and choices you have made have reached such speeds that events unfolded in a blur; your mind simply couldn’t digest it all. It was riveting. It was dangerous. You damn sure would do it again.
Baby Driver has gifted audiences with such an experience. Not only because robbing banks is literally what the characters are doing throughout the film, but because Wright has created a stunning picture that invited audiences into the mood of Baby every time his iPod hit play. You knew this would be fun as soon as “Bellbottoms” dropped.
Baby Driver’s soundtrack is what makes the film truly unique. It’s not just that the music Wright handpicked is great, and oh of course it is, but it’s the way he fuels the engine of his film with it. The impact it has to give viewers another channel to observe the movie through. Each song is used with meaning, be it to set the mood of a scene or to give insight of Baby’s feelings at the moment. For example, the second scene of the movie, after the opening car chase: Baby walks through the busy downtown streets of Atlanta to fetch coffee for the gang while “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl plays; it’s upbeat, groovy and sexy. All things the movie is and how one could imagine Baby feels after successfully pulling off a heist. Or “B-A-B-Y” by Carla Thomas, a love song with the perfect name, which plays the scene after Baby first talks to Deborah — enter his new, young, exiting love. Or Jon Hamm threatening Baby with his own go-to weapon, “Here’s your killer track, Baby!” he says as he blasts Queen’s “Brighton Rock” through the speakers of a stolen cop car.
It’s remarkable then that Baby Driver still checks on all other cylinders. At its core, it is a romantic love story about a good kid cornered into a bad situation. Ansel Elgort plays the young, mysterious, warmhearted role as Baby beautifully. His chemistry with Lily James (Deborah) flowed with such ease that I actually had to pause my brain for a moment in the middle of watching the movie to ask myself, “wait, this is the first time they’ve met, right?” James’ glowing smile convinced me, as it did Baby, that it felt like the couple had known each other for some time. The match seemed destined.
The supporting cast only strengthens the film that much more. To speak nothing of the A-list names that Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx already bring on paper. Has Spacey ever disappointed? He is Hollywood royalty, commanding every screen he is on whenever he is on, and his role as Doc is no different. Foxx, who plays Bats, is rude, crude and ruthless. He is the one guy you don’t want to f*ck around with because, while you may be willing to shoot to kill if your life is threatened, he’s willing to kill if you look at his friend the wrong way. Eiza González who plays Darling captures the camera by her beauty alone. González is fine in her role, but, by no fault of her own, her character isn’t developed much, and that’s OK. There are only so many lines and character arcs to go around. She was perfect as Darling: sexy, badass and fearless. You couldn’t get enough of her on screen. Buddy, played by Hamm, was the character I had the most fun watching on screen (aside from Baby). Initially he was the charming, laid back guy with the baddest chick in the room. Next he’s a psychotic maniac who has nine lives. Admittedly, Buddy’s antics in the third act of the movie did get too comical, and the fact that he kept managing to get out of impossible situations threw me out the movie for a time, but Hamm was fun to watch. I don’t think he’s ever been this mean on screen before.
And if everything said above wasn’t enough, the pure action in the film was terrific in and of itself. From the start of Baby’s self-sabotaged heist, marked by Bats death, to the death of Doc, I don’t think I let out a single breath. I was sitting up. I was hooked. The sheer coolness of Wright’s style took over. The car chases were magnificent and REAL. Let me say that again: they were REAL. No Fast and the Furious CGI extravaganza. This is what car chases should be. The cinematography captured the look and feel of Atlanta in such a way that all ATL locals have to recognize every turn and corner Baby drifted by. The colors in the film popped even if its characters were too dark to notice. And the sound and editing of the film were tuned to perfection.
I will be sitting in a theater again this weekend to watch Baby Driver. And many times over after it leaves theaters. I cannot wait to see what Edgar Wright does next.
Film rating: 92/100