Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver. He works under Kevin Spacey’s Doc, a heist mastermind who never works with the same crew twice but who considers Baby his lucky charm. A lucky charm that he has under his thumb thanks to a juvenile mistake that Baby pulled on him at a young age.
Baby is the eccentric protagonist and your archetypal “mysterious quiet type” character. After an accident left him both orphaned and ailed by tinnitus, Baby lives inside his hefty music library that is contained within a plethora of iPods.
Baby wants out, and he wants the girl: Debora (Lily James). As this is an action movie, however, this is far easier said than done.
Edgar Wright brings his stylish directing to bear in this film. It is style over substance, yes, but it is style to the nines in a way that puts this film into the upper echelon of the action genre.
The artifice of the film is in the foreground. The script, in particular, leans on one-liners early and often to the point of becoming overbearing (even schlocky). At first, there is an off-putting blunt delivery of these cliched lines, but over time this becomes part of the charm of the film. Wright is bringing energy to the genre by splurging on an unabashed love for that genre.
The story itself is nothing complicated. It is fairly standard for the genre: an A-plot reluctant last crime gig and a B-plot romance that gets tangled up in the messy A-plot. But this is all the story that the film needs.
Instead of story, the film relies on style and acting substance. Elgort, James, and their indelible chemistry combine to create an endearing romance, endearing enough to set the audience on the right foot when this romance is threatened.
And supporting roles from Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx are ham-fisted and loud enough to crank up the antagonism efficiently. Hamm’s Buddy may have more motivation than Foxx for this erratic violence, but both provide strong, charismatic performances that sell the otherwise superficial characters.
Baby Driver is a pulse-pounding action musical with an unmistakable Edgar Wright flair. From the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them details (note for starters the background of the opening credits sequence) to the pitch-perfectly edited chase sequences, the film is a master class in more bang for your buck entertainment.
The film is not emotionally or intellectually lofty. It is not diving deep into the human condition toward some illuminating end. But it is damn fun.
And it achieves this fun by being a film with sound pacing. Sound, of course, being the operative word. The soundtrack is scorching with verve and forward drive. But it is also integral to the film as a whole, both inside the story and without it.
The music in the film is not only the driving force behind Baby’s ability to perform his job, but it is also the driving force behind the film from frame one to the last credit screen.
Baby Driver is a film with perfect rhythm. The integration of music with every other technical facet creates a film that is almost perfectly in sync. Editing, mise en scene, sound design, and even dialogue is filtered into the musical soundtrack in a profoundly calculated manner.
As a result, the film runs like a well-oiled machine. There is not a moment of downtime from which the audience can mentally check out. Each frame and sonic moment provides the viewer a new morsel from which entertainment can be gleaned.
Baby Driver is, easily, one of the most entertaining films of the year.
Baby Driver: A-
As always, thanks for reading!
Like CineFiles on Facebook for updates on new articles and reviews.
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)