Baby Driver [Review]

Reviewer: Alexander Sayers

Never before have I openly sung along to a heist film, but with the killer soundtrack in Edgar Wright’s new-sure-to-be-summer-film-of-the-year, ‘Baby Driver’, there’s a first time for everything.

I dare say a die-hard Edgar Wright fan might notice some very noticeable changes to well known stylization and nuances that projects such as ‘The Cornetto Trilogy’ or ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ brought to the table. Personally, I have always seen Wright as somewhat of a master of visual storytelling; he has a keen eye for being able to bring the subtleties of a situation out through a purely visual gag, going above and beyond in showing us what we need to see of a character’s psyche, usually in a very quirky, abrupt manner.

Here, we see somewhat of a shift in focus, almost as if Baby Driver is an experiment to combine elements of almost excessive synchronicity paired with a fantastic use of symmetrical cinematography and breath taking set pieces.

These new distinctions in style do (for the most part) pay off to good effect, and the end result is a breath taking adventure that will keep you invested the entire way through.

The story of Baby Driver revolves around a getaway driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort), who suffers from permanent tinnitus, and so perpetually listens to music to temporally relieve himself of the pain; of course this heavily affects his character in delightful ways, and through shady job after shady job, he encounters incredibly colourful characters, played by the likes of Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Hamm. These characters tip toe the line of intoxicatingly bubbly to downright unlikeable, in the best way possible.

There were times in Baby Driver where the mere presence of one character would change the dynamic of a scene so much that I would be gripping my seat from the sheer tension ‘Baby Driver’ conjures so well. This is something that will surprise you if you go into this film having only seen the trailers. It can be a very tonally dark film, where a good portion of the story stem from the unnecessary killings of innocent people through the heist jobs that Baby gets involved with.

That isn’t to say the upsides aren’t plentiful – one of my favorite parts of the film are the synchronized action set pieces, a marvel of clever staging and choreography (on a side note, bravo to choreographer, Bill Pope) masterfully staged so that one can clearly understand the blocking and staging of car chases, shootouts, and fights. These bright and vibrant scenes are played out by a perfectly synced soundtrack – a highlight of mine being Queen’s ‘Brighton Rock’ where a five minute guitar solo chugs along to blaring red and blue police lights.

For all my doting and admiration of this film, there are a few less favorite elements present, such as a sense of self awareness, present in flash back sequences and long, expository sections of dialogue (almost always denoted by Kevin Spacey’s character, Doc) that, albeit, do usually end with quite a funny quip. As mentioned, I find one of Wright’s most appealing factors, the way that he is able to portray very abstract emotional states through very clever visual charm, and with his ability to create such vivid storytelling. If it weren’t such a talented, well-regarded director, I wouldn’t have minded as much, but this is Edgar Wright! There is also some awkward dialogue between Baby, and his love interest, Debora (Lily James), where their first conversation plasters itself with purple prose and unnatural dialogue, but this does come from a natural unromantic!

It must be said that after the first 30 minutes of Baby Driver all these elements seemed to fade away for me, and with the introduction of newer characters, the dialogue becomes a lot more fluid and natural and brilliantly written.

All in all, if you’re not as arbitrarily analytical as I am and don’t mind the somewhat noticeable issues present in this film’s first few scenes then pardon the pun –  with Baby Driver you’re in for one hell of a ride.


Baby Driver is out now in UK cinemas.