Thursday, 29 June 2017

Baby Driver - Movie Review

Edgar Wright is one of my all-time favourite directors and perhaps my favourite of those who directed their first film in the 2000s. The Three Cornetto trilogy of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End all stand as some of my favourite comedy films of all time, all being filled with not just an abundance of laughs but also plenty of great action and surprisingly tender moments. But despite constant critical acclaim Wright is somewhat of a cult director, especially in the US; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was a notorious bomb despite brilliant reception and what could have been his big break with Ant-Man was squandered when he departed the film due to clashes with Marvel. He’s a man who needs and deserves his lucky break into the A-List for directors. With Baby Driver shifting up in release from hazy dump month August up to a prime summer position at the end of June, it seems like the tide’s ready to turn for him.

Indeed, Baby Driver is Wright’s clearest attempt at a Hollywood hit yet – the cast and setting of the film is all American and the story of the film has the underpinnings of a classic Hollywood heist movie – but that doesn’t stop Wright from putting his unmistakeable charm and wit all over the film. Baby Driver follows Baby (Ansel Elgort), a ridiculously good getaway driver for a gang of robbers lead by the unscrupulous yet affable Doc (Kevin Spacey). He’s unique in his style since he does all his operations whilst listening to music – this helps him to drown out the tinnitus in his ear from a traumatic incident when he was younger that took his parents lives. With a ragtag crew behind him, Baby has to take the wheel in a robbery that’s doomed to fail.

It should be noted right away that despite being directed by Edgar Wright this is not a film that’s a full on laugh riot all the way through. If you were expecting a film like Hot Fuzz where nearly every line in the film is a full on gutbuster then you may be disappointed as Baby Driver is more of a conventional action thriller. But that in no way undermines just how entertaining Baby Driver is – it’s a film that’s brilliantly written, with a greatly paced story and a thrilling narrative that’ll keep you engaged all the way through. Wright’s penchant for foreshadowing and sight gags is still around with this film as there are many great hidden details that only a beady eye will catch first time around – like his previous films this will be greatly rewarding for repeat viewings. And Wright doesn’t let down his comedic guard at all as there’s still plenty of hilarious lines – whilst they’re more scattered than his previous films they’re still all guaranteed to make your whole cinema laugh. The work by the actors help this quite a bit, especially from the older stars. Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx in particular manage to wring out plenty of humour from their dialogue thanks to their straightlaced deliveries of the funniest moments. Perhaps the weakest link in the cast is Elgort – he’s certainly not bad by any means but he’s certainly dwarfed by the other big personas around him, especially since much of his role in the film is silent, with his actions speaking louder than his words. Still, he does solidly overall.

The best things about Baby Driver are the directing and the soundtrack, the two of which collide together very well. It may be hard to forget given the more comedic tones of his films but Wright is a fantastic director of action – see the entire police shootout climax of Hot Fuzz or the CGI heavy fights of Scott Pilgrim as a testament to his skills. Baby Driver shows once again just how brilliantly he can handle grander action setpieces in addition to the more restrained comedic scenes as practically all of the car chases and shootouts in the film (and there’s a lot) are filmed excellently, managing to get you onto the edge of your seat throughout and lacking many of the traits of bad modern action scenes such as slow motion and overbearing shaky cam.  As for the music, it’s an incredibly eclectic yet fantastic mixture of stuff – artists like Queen, Blur, T-Rex, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, The Commodores and Golden Earring are all in the mix and they work really well with the high speed thrills of the film. This is most apparent when the soundtrack and action collide with each other – many times the music is timed up perfectly to the action on screen. An epic shootout between Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonz├ílez’s characters against the police is testament to this as every shot of the gun and reload matches up perfectly to the beats of the song that plays. The movie’s full of these brilliant match ups of action and music and it’s a testament to the editing, Wright’s direction and the soundtrack choices that helps to give Baby Driver a real edge to it.

Baby Driver is quite a bit different to previous films of Edgar Wright – it’s far more action orientated than it is comedic – but it’s nonetheless an excellent demonstration of how fantastic a director and writer he is. A script that’s full of fantastic dialogue, both serious and funny, is married to a great ensemble cast performance and the action scenes never disappoint, whilst the soundtrack is a fantastic cherry on top of the already brilliant cake. All of this adds up to one of the most inventive and original movies of the year and is an absolute oasis in the barren wasteland that’s been this current summer movie season. Do give this one all your money – it’d be fantastic to see such original and excellent filmmaking rewarded and I’d love to see Edgar Wright build his film career upwards and onwards.

Baby Driver – written and directed by Edgar Wright, produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Nira Park, starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonz├ílez, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx. A Big Talk Productions/Working Title Films/Media Right Capital production, a TriStar Pictures film

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