Edgar Wright’s latest project is so good, it makes me overlook the ridiculous title…
I always look forward to Edgar Wright films, but after I heard the plot and title of Baby Driver, I admit I was a little sceptical. The idea of a young car prodigy called Baby, who suffered from tinnitus seemed just a little too weird to me, and I wasn’t a fan of the main actor, Ansel Elgort. I’d only seen him in bland teen dramas like the fault in our stars, and young adult dystopias like Divergent, and he didn’t stand out as particularly interesting. However, I finally saw it a week ago and I am pleased to say my scepticism was entirely misplaced. This film is an absolute blast from start to finish.
By far the best thing about this film is the sound design. Because Baby has tinnitus, he listens to music constantly to drown it out, which the audience can hear. Now, I’m not a music geek so I didn’t recognise a lot of the songs chosen, but for the most part I liked them and what amazed me was the way Wright managed to sync up all the actions of the characters and the events of the film with the songs played. In fact, there is even a joke at one point in the film where Baby actually stops his team from carrying on with the heist until the right moment in his song. This is what makes this film unique, and it flavours every scene with an appropriate tone. I especially love the use of a song by Focus called Hocus Pocus (try saying that after you’ve had a few) which is one of the silliest and yet coolest I’ve heard.
The performances are for the most part, extremely well done. Two stand-outs for me were John Hamm and Lily James. John Hamm as Buddy is intense and dark, with a false smile and casual attitude that hides deep anger and resentment, reminiscent of his portrayal of Don Draper from Mad Men. In fact, you can make the argument that his character is really Don Draper, as Buddy comes from a similar background. On the other end of the scale, Lily James plays Deborah, the waitress love interest with a sweet innocence that never comes across as naivete. She has a natural sunny attitude and her relationship with Baby is heart-warming; the two have a good chemistry. She also isn’t played as a damsel, her character takes action into her own hands on more than one occasion, and she is willing to go far. As far as other actors go, Kevin Spacey is always great and although he’s not convincing as an unhinged killer, Jamie Foxx is intimidating as Bats.
Ansel Elgort, though not given much vocally to do, is nonetheless one hell of a physical performer, and scenes in which he dances to music are very charming. His expressions are very well done, and he manages to convey a feeling of cockiness without it seeming arrogant. Elgort can also portray moments of vulnerability and anger with an intensity that almost makes you forget his age, holding a stare with a deranged John Hamm at one point.
The visuals of the film, and the direction in general are exceptional as always with Edgar Wright. With bombastic action shot from very creative angles, and a superb use of lighting and colour to evoke the spirit of ridiculous 80’s action films. One of my favourite sequences is the chase scene in the multi car park, which uses brilliant cinematography, zooming in quickly on the two men in their cars, one lit in blue, the other red. Powerful stuff.
Baby Driver is a film I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I did. The story is conventional, but the way in which it gets to each convention is surprising and refreshing. Like most of the best films, it takes what has been done before, and does something new with it. The direction, acting and music are splendid, and if I did have one complaint, it’s that the ending can’t help but feel a little anticlimactic. Overall though, I would definitely watch this again!