Edgar Wright has made a career out of directing stylish comedies with a uniquely vibrant soundtrack, including Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This makes Baby Driver —a quirky action-comedy about a getaway driver who blasts music to drown out his tinnitus— the perfect vehicle for his singular approach to filmmaking.
The film centers on titular character Baby (Ansel Elgort), a getaway driver employed by criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey), who plans to escape his life of crime and run away with love-interest Deborah (Lily James). Baby Driver has the potential to catapult Elgort’s career to new heights. Previously known for his roles in films like The Faults in Our Stars and Divergent, Elgort breaks out of this young adult typecast and nails his performance as the quiet —yet— charming Baby. Equally charming is James as Deborah, a diner waitress who develops a relationship with Baby and dreams of driving West and never looking back. The driving force of the plot is Baby and Deborah’s desire to run away together, and Elgort and James do a convincing job selling their characters’ chemistry.
Though he possesses an impressive set of skills, Baby is an innocent and well-intentioned protagonist who holds strictly by his morals. He stands in stark contrast to the dangerous and unpredictable criminals that surround him, played by Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eliza Gonzales, and Jon Bernthal. Early on, it appeared as if each of these secondary characters might lack depth and complexity, as a lot of the acting in the movie is over-the-top. However, after spending some time with the characters, they reveal new depths beyond caricaturist portrayals, rendering them surprisingly enjoyable to watch. Hamm gives a particularly brilliant performance as Buddy, who is one half of a Bonnie and Clyde-esque crime duo alongside Eliza Gonzalez as Darling.
The real star of this movie, however, is director Wright. Throughout his past films he has maintained a particular style which features many quick-cut montages edited in tune with the soundtrack. Given Baby’s need to listen to music at all times, the soundtrack is constant and unrelenting, with many recognizable songs each used in exciting and creative ways— such as the tracking shot set to “Harlem-Shuffle” that sees Baby dancing through city streets on his way to get coffee. Though some may see it as a gimmick, the use of music benefits the film enormously, and elevates the chase sequences in particular.
Baby Driver is an exciting and inventive action-comedy with a unique style brought to it by Wright. It is a refreshing new take on the genre and one of the better films from Summer 2017.