By Mark Saldana
Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)
The new movie by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is a beautiful example of precision filmmaking and thrilling storytelling. Wright has not only chosen the perfect soundtrack for his film, he and his crew have also exceptionally choreographed his scenes to play out in perfect synchronicity to the songs. The talented English director gave us a hint of this style with his “Don’t Stop Me Now” sequence in Shaun of the Dead, but had yet to make an entire feature-length film that utilizes this technique throughout most of its run time. Though everything has been meticulously crafted and executed, the film flows almost effortlessly to its awesome musical beats. But make no mistake; Baby Driver might be an example of mad movie skills, but it also one of the most fun action rides of the year.
Ansel Elgort stars as Baby, a young getaway driver under contract with career criminal Doc (Kevin Spacey). An auto accident at an early age may have left Baby with tinnitus, but he nevertheless has to be the most skillful driver that Doc has ever seen. Baby drowns out the ringing in his ears with his iPod’s music which helps him remain sharp as a razor and focused at all times. Baby’s contract with Doc is soon coming to an end. With only a few jobs left, the young man starts thinking about a future away from the criminal life. However, Doc has other things in mind for Baby, as he refuses to let his most successful driver get away. As soon as Baby realizes that he will never be completely free, he makes plans to run away with his new girlfriend Debora (Lily James), but will have to deal with Doc and his crew members Buddy (Jon Hamm), Bats (Jamie Foxx), and Darling (Elsa Gonzalez) first.
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is an action movie masterpiece. I have seen great action flicks in recent years and decades, but not one as exhilarating and adrenaline inducing as this one. This movie is a jaw-dropper in multiple ways. The direction is excellent as are the editing and stunt work. The story doesn’t offer a lot strikingly different material, but that doesn’t really matter. The presentation is so extraordinary and incredible that the movie doesn’t really need a groundbreaking story. Most of the characters are typical of this kind of film, but Wright’s sharp-witted writing makes them all the more exciting to watch, as do the performances of the cast members portraying them.
The film features great performances by Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Elsa Gonzalez, and Jon Bernthal. Ansel Elgort is perfectly cast as the sphinxlike, but occasionally charming and witty Baby, the driving wunderkind whom everyone wants behind the wheel. He shares a sweet and lovely chemistry with Lily James who brings an effervescent and lovable personality to her turn as Debora. Jamie Foxx delivers a stand-out performance as the intense, violent and slightly unhinged Bats. Foxx succeeds in making Bats the frightening wild card and main threat to Elgort’s Baby. The film also features fun appearances by Flea, Lanny Joon and a touching performance by CJ Jones as Joseph, Baby’s foster father.
Not only is Baby Driver my favorite movie of the summer so far, it is sure to make my list of top movies of the year. In my opinion, it is probably his best film so far. Edgar Wright’s skillful direction and intelligent writing make this movie stand out from the usually less-smart action movies that often dominate cinema. My big fear, though, is that people will overlook this movie and dismiss it as just another driving action movie, because it isn’t. It takes the subgenre to new heights of excitement and fun and once again proves that Edgar Wright is one of the more brilliant filmmakers working today.