When you hear the name Edgar Wright different thoughts pop up. To most it’s probably the glory of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. To the more cult-y, his TV show Spaced comes to mind. To the more Marvel nerd-y, potentially his departure from Ant-Man is brought back up. To the more nerd-y in general, maybe it’s the perfection of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. To the more disappointed, perhaps the highly underrated The World’s End sparks memories of being let down. And to everyone else, maybe it’s the amateur movies, the music videos, or other directing work.
This year, however, four years after releasing his last directorial effort (Stupid Ant-Man getting between that), Wright has made Baby Driver. And oh boy. Oh boy.
I could make this review of Baby Driver the shortest review I’ve written by just saying I shall list all the bad things about the movie as thus:
While of course currently writing this in that period of movie critic hype – that stage where movies are either the best or the worst and it won’t be until further time and discussion will evaluate the true strength of a movie – Baby Driver is just something special. In ways its very much like the first time you see a new Edgar Wright work, where maybe it’s the genre-blend of Shaun of the Dead, or the editing and presentation of Scott Pilgrim vs the World, or the strong soundtrack of The World’s End…There’s just something fresh and different about an Edgar Wright movie over the majority of other movies being released today that provides a chance to notice.
Baby Driver has elements of all his previous movies combined plus even more – the only viewing tip is to not assume (and why would you if you’ve seen the marketing already) that it’s going to be an all-out comedy like his Cornetto Trilogy. That in itself was an issue with The World’s End, which ended the trilogy but wasn’t exactly the twin to Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz.
Edgar Wright has reinvented all sorts of genres with Baby Driver, or perhaps just mashed them all up into a playlist of cinema that’s not unlike Wright looking at his previous filmography. Whether it’s big town cop in a small village or a rom-zom-com, did one really assume that Baby Driver wasn’t going to be the film it is? A wonderful crime film that’s potentially the best musical this year, or even for a few years? There’s a reason there’s a prominent credit for choreography in the opening titles of this film.
Just every element in the construction of Baby Driver is perfection. And all behind a simple premise – Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the finest escape driver in the crime business working on one last job to pay back a debt to Kevin Spacey’s Doc. But then he falls in love. And wants to quit, even though they keep pulling him back in. Cue the music.
It’s everything you need from Edgar Wright. It’s a heist film where you’re outside the heists. It’s a musical where the world around sings. It’s a car chase film with some of the most inventive chases in all of cinema. It’s a love story in the air of Bonnie and Clyde except the duo are the good guys. There’s always that wonderful twist on things.
Everything is cut and choreographed and staged to music and diegetic sound. Nothing is off beat, everything is precisely on beat. You’ve not heard gunfights like this before. You’ve not had music incorporated as part of the heartbeat of a film like this before. It’s not the background, it’s the foreground. And unlike most musicals, the narrative never stops for the music. It’s enhanced by it. The gears change and boom, we’re full speed ahead.
Baby Driver assembles a brilliant cast from the perfect Kevin Spacey all the way through your Jamie Foxx’s and irreplaceable Jon Hamm’s. Down to our main character Baby, showing us all the more potential of Ansel Elgort. And his partner in escape from crime Lily James, who definitely gives Baby a reason to run.
Or drive. Very very fast.
As the trailers have said, volume up, pedal down. Watch this movie with the best possible sound you can find. If only it were put in IMAX. Baby Driver is original, refreshing, fun, genius, and everything right (or, heh, Wright) with cinema. This is the breath of fresh air we need in cinema. Now we just need to patiently wait for the next Edgar Wright follow-up. Let me tell you, the four years of nothing was painful enough.
Good thing they’re letting more innovative and fun filmmakers play in big franchise sandboxes like Edgar Wright got to do with Ant-Man. At least people like Lord and Miller can breathe similar life into franchises much bigger and more influential than-…What was that?...