Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Baby Driver ★★★★★

Edgar Wright is known for his quirky yet humorous, well-edited films, and his newest creation, ‘Baby Driver’, is no exception. Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver with a hearing impairment and a quiet personality, yet his skills behind the wheels make him one of the best in his field. It’s not something he’d planned to do of course, and he can’t wait until he’s done his last job for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) so he can get back to a (semi) normal life caring for his also hearing impaired Pops (CJ Jones, who is actually deaf himself) and making music. After meeting diner waitress Debora (Lily James), getaways look like a thing of the past… That is, of course, until Doc mysteriously turns up again, offering him one last job that promises riches. Baby is given no choice but to take him up on the offer, turning his already unique life even more perilous.

The film itself is partly inspired by Edgar Wright’s music video for Mint Royale made in 2003, which featured Noel Fielding. It’s easy to tell from the first few minutes that this isn’t just a film with a soundtrack – the film is original and feels more like an art piece than a movie, with striking similarities to a modern musical despite no one bursting into song. Music is used not just to fuel emotion but also to change the pacing, add depth to the characters, and also to highlight certain actions in scenes. It’s got to be soundtrack of the year, combining some well-known classics with other more obscure songs – this is the first time I’ve heard ‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus in a film, yet it worked surprisingly well.

The editing team will have had their work cut out for them too, with Wright’s signature editing style central to the film. Even the first few minutes are edited so precisely that it must have taken hours, and it gives an added slickness to an already smooth film. Yes, some of it is overly cheesy (bullets being shot in time to the music, and so on), but you can’t help but love it. Talking of slickness, the filming style reminded me a lot of ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ – both films manage to feel vintage and modern at the same time, with great one-liners (“He puts the Asian in invasion” was one of my favourites) and fast-paced action that you can’t help but become absorbed in.

You might recognise lead Elgort from ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ – I’d never seen him in anything before, but I was really impressed with his role as Baby. The chemistry between him and Debora feels so real, so it was a shame that it lacked overall depth, and we never really learnt much about her as a character. That was my only complaint with the story really – it just felt that there was so much to fit in that the relationship got side-lined, when really it should have been more of a focus.

Alongside Elgort, John Hamm played a relentless Buddy, who really stepped into his role during the final half as it all got out of control. I was most impressed by Jamie Foxx, who’s interpretation of the psychopathic murderer Bats was scarily on point. All of the acting is good (if a tad dramatic at times), and we even get to see Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers cameo as a minor part criminal who’s not really all that with it.

Some questions aren’t answered, and some scenes feel too tailored to be 100% realistic, but I loved ‘Baby Driver’ anyway - it’s intoxicating in its delivery and infects you with energy from the beginning. I even had to re-listen to the soundtrack as soon as it was over so, even if it’s just for the music, make sure you don’t miss out.


Hannah Read

Baby Driver at CeX

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