Can Edgar Wright do any wrong?
His run of films this century already some that people consider some of the best, especially his teaming with Simon Pegg and Frost films Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007, my personal favorite) as well as the inventive comic-book adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010).
Baby Driver is only his second deviation from the Pegg/ Frost team that put him on the map and arguably one o this best outings since Hot Fuzz. I cannot think of a director who can meld fast-paced humor with fast-paced storytelling so cohesively like Wright, but Baby Driver sacrifices the humor in turn for fast cars. Don’t get me wrong, the movie still has some good laughs (there is one joke about Michael Meyers Halloween masks that I severely wish they did not spoil in the trailers), but I wouldn’t classify Baby Driver as a comedy on the levels of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz.
The movie is about Baby (played by YA hero, Ansel Elgort) who drives for a crime syndicate masterminded by Kevin Spacey. Due to an accident when he was young, he constantly listens to loops of pop music on his many iPods. Baby is doing this to pay off a debt he owes, but soon realizes that this life isn’t particularly easy to escape. This becomes more hurtful when Baby falls for a waitress in the local diner off the Atlanta highway, Debora (Lily James).
Jon Hamm, Eliza Gonzalez, and Jamie Foxx all contribute as heavies to the story and each one seems to be having a ton of fun with their role. Especially Hamm, who continually defies logic in the third act.
The plot revels in B-movie goo and seeks to know how far it can push those boundaries with modern day money and technology. It is the classic story of a troubled-past-boy-meets-girl-doesn’t-want-girl-harmed romance. Baby Driver elevates this story with fantastical car chases that take on a near-Blues Brothers level of ridiculousness.
Wright also hits the right tones when it comes to the music he chooses. I recall reading years ago the difference between how Martin Scorsese uses music and how David O. Russell uses music in each of their respective movies. I’d like to throw Wright into this conversation. The article stated that Scorsese accompanies his music with the movie, while Russell has his players move with the music, as if they know what is playing in non-diegetic world.
Wright has found a way to synthesize both. There is a scene in the movie that highlights this perfectly: as Baby needs music for getaway chases, he chooses “Neat Neat Neat” by The Damned and must make the whole getaway around this soundtrack. When it goes a tad awry, Wright starts the song over and even rewinds the song the way we would on an iPod. This is a talent that no other filmmaker has and a style that is all Wright’s own.
Baby Driver would be most interesting on a double-bill with 2011’s Drive. Both feature startling action and great car chases, but with very different purposes. Nicolas Winding Refn’s picture featured a more subdued, quiet tone, whereas Wright is looking for the utmost thrills.
Tags: 2017 in film, 2017 movie reviews, Ansel elgort, baby driver, baby driver review, blues brothers, cornetto trilogy, David o russell, drive, Edgar wright, Eliza gonzalez, English directors, great music in movies, hot fuzz, ipods, Jamie foxx, jon hamm, Martin scorsese, movie reviews, music in movies, nick frost, shaun of the dead, simon pegg