Baby Driver is another of those films where I’m embarrassingly late to the party – I remember the buzz it made before and immediately after its release, but four years on and I’ve just finally gotten around to actually watching it.
I’ll start by saying that I love the films of Edgar Wright – he always seems to blend wit with both style and substance in a seamless and consistently entertaining fashion. Therefore,before even starting Baby Driver, I knew it probably a safe bet that I’d enjoy it.
No surprises there, then. What I hadn’t been expecting, though, was the entirely different style. Wright’s previous films always carried a touch of oddball humour, whereas Baby Driver was sleek and cool from the off. Sure, it’s still incredibly quirky, but it carries itself differently than I’d have expected, which caught me a little off-guard.
Ansel Elgort as the titular driver, Baby, was immediately charismatic, delivering both charm and humour in spades. His energetic dancing and fluidity of movement, combined with his incredibly quiet and introverted personality, made Baby immediately and innately interesting. It was Elgort’s performance that captured my attention.
Baby Driver also features an excellent supporting cast; Kevin Spacy as “Doc”, Jon Hamm as the super-cool “Buddy” and Eiza González as his lethal and occasionally disturbing wife “Darling” , Jamie Foxx as “Bats”, the unstable and ruthless triggerman, Lily James as Baby’s love interest Debora and Jon Bernthal as “Griff”, one of Doc’s thugs. The whole cast is excellent, although Hamm’s performance in particular stands out among the supporting cast – there’s something both friendly and deeply unsettling behind his eyes, which is explored fully by both the actor and the narrative, giving him a satisfying and meaningful arc.
Still, the show is very much Elgort’s, as from the off he manages to be both playful and deadly serious, which puts him at direct odds to the criminals he works with. This sets Baby Driver apart from your average crime film – while car chases and quick smash and grabs are central to the plot, it’s very much a character driven and lightly comedic film, with Baby’s eccentricity at the forefront.
Throughout, Baby Driver boasts an outstanding soundtrack used impeccably, and it’s a testament to Wright’s ability as a filmmaker – the whole film plays like an audio-visual treat prepared with nothing but fun in mind. That said, there are more serious aspects and themes at play, and while they might have been a little less enthralling than the film’s surface narrative, they still offer a much needed extra layer.
My main criticism of Baby Driver was the slight tonal shift in the third act, which itself led to a gentle – but still noticable – pacing issue. With everything all coming to head at once, the film goes from a thoughtfully fun crime caper to all-out action, paying just slightly too little attention to its central characters and the realism of their actions. It’s not enough to spoil the film, and it all still has that same sheen (it remains excellent in its soundtrack, visuals and editing), but it was certainly lacking in something that the film’s first half possessed: tact.
Baby Driver is a film with a stellar reputation, and it didn’t get to be so by chance. Its approach to action, crime and comedy was refreshing, and Wright’s vision is brought expertly to life by a stellar cast.
Summary: A film as entertaining as it is unique, Baby Driver delivers high-octane action thrills without ever overstepping its central vision.
Highlight: An early scene in which Elgort dances along the street on his way to pick up coffee is brilliantly acted and edited to showcase the level of talent behind the film.