Baby Driver movie review: Edgar Wright's film gives the Fast and Furious franchise a run for its money
director: Edgar Wright
Nobody makes films like Edgar Wright. The visual comedy, quirky scene transitions, and music cues become a harmony of sorts, and in his new film Baby Driver he uses all those elements to their optimum levels. It isn’t on the classic level of Wright’s earlier work but it’s still an enjoyable musical comedy thriller that serves as a nice diversion from the overwrought and badly choreographed blockbusters out in theaters.
Quitting Ant Man and making this much smaller film seems to have been the right decision because the filmmaker gets to flex his character building muscles here. We’re introduced to a young man (Ansel Elgort) in glasses, listening to music, sitting in a car outside what seems to be a bank. Three masked figures with guns are sprinting out of the building towards the car. A getaway scene kicks in that immediately establishes what is going on. The young man’s name is revealed to be Baby — and he’s like the Ryan Gosling character from Drive — doesn’t speak much, helps bad guys loot money and is ridiculously good at his job.
With a booming playlist and car chases, Baby Driver — at the expense of sounding reductive — is like a cross between Drive and La La Land. Like in his previous films, the story dodges genre conventions by pure, beautifully choreographed visual trickery and editing. Despite the dozen Fast and Furious movies that have showed pretty much every possible thing that a car could be involved in, Wright and his DOP Bill Pope finds a new way to make car chases and robbery getaways exciting, and at a tenth of the budget.
The main draw, however is the persona of Baby, whose addiction to music and timing songs according to the situation he’s in, is as hilarious as it is enigmatic. Every time a chase scene begins, he adjusts the timing of the chorus on his iPod so it feels more epic to live through that moment. It’s just another example of how Wright manages to tap into our child like fantasies, and he’s perhaps the only filmmaker who makes you realise anyone could seem really cool if you look at them the right way.
The problem arises in the second half of the film with the arrival of Jamie Foxx as a new client with shady intentions. It’s a moment where the film suddenly stops being funny and becomes a more conventional serious thriller that doesn’t live up to its buildup. There’s a girl in the mix (Lily James from Cinderella) and the love story between between Baby and her doesn’t really feel potent. The couple share zero chemistry and their romance frustratingly diverts from all the cool stuff that occurred prior to it. This is odd considering Wright aced the love story between Scott Pilgrim and Ramona just a few years ago.
The identity of the villain is best kept a mystery for you to discover, but it’s an inspired choice. Although there is one character played by a very significant actor who just disappears from the film. One wishes that guy made a reappearance later on instead of the girl, and Wright had chosen bromance between him and Baby over the insipid romance that we ultimately get. In any case this is probably the first time an Edgar Wright film is in theaters in India — you’d be foolish to not head to the theaters with your friends.