Ansel Elgort (The Fault In Our Stars) is Baby. That’s B-A-B-Y Baby, a highly skilled getaway driver with a chronic case of tinnitus relieved only by a constant stream of music. Coerced into a life of crime with the promise of an expiry date, Baby is paying back criminal kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey) job by job.
And then Baby’s free – at least, for a moment. But as any criminal with a good heart and a longing desire to be Done will tell you, there’s one last job. It’s then Doc reminds Baby that being square doesn’t mean being free. Up to this point the only real threat for Baby is the safety of his foster father (CJ Jones), but the introduction of sweet, singing, diner waitress Debora (Cinderella’s Lily James) shifts things into first gear. The stakes are higher than ever and one wrong turn could see Baby’s dreams of his girl, the open road and a never-ending mix tape crushed.
Written and directed by Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World), the premise of Baby Driver had been kicking around for decades, finding footing first as a music video for Mint Royale in 2002. The original opening sequence became the scene for the band’s ‘Blue Song’, starring Noel Fielding as the character that would later become Baby.
Elgort is fantastic as the stoic main man – small on dialogue, big on charm – alongside a motley crew of full-time criminals gathered by Doc that build the foundation of this cartoonishly original outing. From Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained)’s Bats to Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Eiza González’s Buddy and Darling, the supporting cast brings equal parts sinister wit and stylish violence. Even Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Flea makes an appearance.
Wright’s direction is typically sharp, as visually satisfying as any past effort. Meticulous in their detail, the combination of Wright and cinematographer Bill Pope is gripping from the very beginning. The real thrill, though, is in the music. Sound shifts as subtle as the removal of an earphone putting the audience in Baby’s head by way of his personal soundtrack. A soundtrack that spans various iPods and boasts the likes of The Beach Boys, Blur, and Young MC, expertly mixed to make every deliciously choreographed moment feel like the climax of an action-opera.
There is a slight lull in the story as the film heads into its third act but a wicked performance from Hamm and a handful of car chases so good the Fast and Furious franchise is jealous bring us right back.
In a summer full of comic book adaptations, Baby Driver stands out as one of the most inventive action-comedies in recent memory. A refreshing film that will have you entertained from the first beat. But with Wright in the driver’s seat, it’s hard to imagine a possible wrong turn.
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