Film Review: Baby Driver

I’ll admit it: I’m a big Edgar Wright fan. I think the main reason to be an Edgar Wright fan is that he’s one of those most rarefied of creatures, an auteur film director who is still fun. The former seems to quickly quash any possibility of the latter. Edgar’s visual ideas are always playful and unique.

Edgar Wright movies are distinctive for their bold visuals. He doesn’t so much seek to minimise the visibility of the director’s hand, but rather to maximise its impact. This gives his cinematic style a very contemporary knowing quality, which subtly tampers with the fourth wall throughout. It is this ostentatious style that is most prominent in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This movie was Edgar Wright taken to eleven. It was explosive, it was ingenious, and it was somewhat unapologetic.

Scott Pilgrim wasn’t a huge success. It was probably this lack of success with a big budget  that caused Marvel to tamper with the screenplay of Ant Man. He didn’t respond well to the tampering and walked off the movie with only months until filming. What next? Well, he started working on a little movie called Baby Driver.

Baby Driver drives well. He drives so well his car appears to dance. It slides in impossibly accurate drifts, as Baby dazzles police across America’s complex road networks. The need for dazzling law enforcement comes with the job, because Baby is the getaway driver. In fact, he’s the best damn getaway driver that Kevin Spacey has ever seen.

Baby feels the buzz of the drive and he also has a buzz. It’s the hum of his tinnitus, which just won’t quit. Solution: Baby plays sweet jams. He loves the jams. These are dual-purpose jams: a) they drown out that “hum in the drum”; b) they give Baby a driving soundtrack of which even the Guardians of the Galaxy would be proud. Okay, it’s a conceit. Everything needs a funky unintuitive soundtrack nowadays and James Gunn should be paid a royalty. Though to be fair to Baby Driver, it takes the soundtrack to a new level; the entire film is carefully choreographed to Baby’s electric beats.

Baby is already uncomfortable with his partners’ immoral ways, when he gets renewed incentive to extricate himself from crime on meeting Lily James. She’s a diner waitress with all the looks and kookiness of Lily James.

It’s good. It feels considered and crafted in much the way you would expect of an Edgar Wright movie. I felt it was a surprising intimate piece. I’ve come to expect Edgar Wright to have a more dynamic impact on the film. Baby Driver was less explorative in this respect and, while I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but pine slightly for the full on Edgar. The Cornetto Trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World were more ostentatious. Baby Driver isn’t as full on, it’s slightly more considered.

I enjoy listening to Robert Plant’s new material. Some of it is really great, but part of me will never forget just how big he can go. Edgar didn’t give me the full Zeppelin and that’s okay, because Baby Driver is very good. Edgar certainly isn’t giving me a self-indulgent concoction of world music; he’s giving me a romantic crime caper with a heart. Still, I hope the next film is just that bit more fun.

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