SONY PICTURES (2017)

Directors: Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal

Having tinnitus seriously ensures you listen to good music.

 

I imagine it’s also a drag to live with, but Baby (Elgort) spends his days listening to his various iPods and driving fast cars. Sounds pretty cool, except he’s driving those cars from crime scenes under the watchful eye of his ‘boss’ Doc (Spacey), the head of a crime syndicate. Baby once stole one of his cars and now he’s repaying his debt in Doc’s service, working alongside hired criminals Buddy (Hamm), Darling (González), ever-angry Bats (Foxx) and Griff (Bernthal).

 

Oh, he also records their conversations and makes cool remixes out of them.

Between going from job to job displaying his extreme driving abilities and supreme confidence behind the wheel, Baby stops by the local diner where waitress Debora (James) catches his eye, and the two hit it off. Debora wants to drive west and see where life takes them and though Baby wants the same, he knows he’s tied to Doc and they will find him if he abandons the missions – and there’s one more mission Doc needs completing.

 

A cool, stylish affair packed with action, killer lines and an ever better soundtrack, Baby Driver plays like a fresh movie with fresh ideas – but those ideas do eventually run out as the movie goes along. Firstly, the car chase scenes are fantastic to watch and brilliantly choreographed. The initial chase is exhilarating and they stay consistently good throughout. The script is laced with one liners without edging into shlock territory and the cast work well together (the Mike Myers scene being a stand out)

Elgort is super as the mysteriously cool Baby, a man of few words but one that can drive, talk in sign, woo the lady and go toe-to-toe with Kevin Spacey – dependably good as the no-nonsense crime boss. Lily James continues her rise and is solid as Baby’s dream lady, and Hamm and Foxx are fun to watch spar together.

 

Did I mention this movie has a mega soundtrack? I did? Oh well, it has a mega soundtrack. Not just for background effect, the music plays a key role within the story. The opening salvo of Baby making his way to and from the coffee shop set to “Harlem Shuffle” is complimented with the lyrics appearing on screen in from of street signs and graffiti, and during various predicaments the song mirrors the moment (“Nowhere to Run” by Martha Reeves, for example). When high-octane was needed, the music perfectly mirrored the need for speed – “Brighton Rock” by Queen making a splendid return as Baby’s top driving number.

 

Not without flaws, the movie relies on a fairly standard approach for crime-action movies – Baby has one job left to settle, but we’ve seen enough similar stories to know that won’t happen. Baby promises to leave his ‘job’ and whisk Debora away from that world, put the pieces together. I found the climactic action scene to be fairly…anticlimactic, it lacked the buzz of previous action and seemed slightly by-numbers. Structurally, the movie felt odd in places, only slightly at the beginning but moreso at the ending.

 

With a cool cast, great musical sound base and thrilling car chases, Baby Driver provides an entertaining romp in amongst the big-budget CGI action-gasms. Think The French Connection meets Drive meets La La Land meets The Driver, then blend it with a modern pop-culture burst and that’s what you end up with in Baby Driver – a seriously cool movie that falls short when it runs out of originality but still remains good fun to watch.

July 23rd 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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