June 22, 2017

GENRE | Edgar Wright Puts 'Baby Driver' in a Corner

"They Call. I go."
Ansel Elgort Jon Hamm Eiza González Jon Bernthal Edgar Wright | Baby Driver

British filmmaker Edgar Wright in six films has shown his energetic mastery of composing, shooting, and cutting done with a healthy dose of wry humour, wit, and joy. His latest (and first completely solo screenplay) effort, Baby Driver, is an ode to American heist and car chase genre flicks of the past all set to the musical feel of classic pop tracks.

Ansel Elgort stars as the titular lead. He provides a serviceably charming and fun performance but just doesn't meet the bevy of heavyweight antagonist actors opposite him. Wright does an economical job building Baby's backstory as a lost youth paying off a debt as a wheelman for bank robberies complete with a tragic past and an altruistic motivation.

Elgort's Baby faces off against a string of fine-looking criminals led by big boss Kevin Spacey and fronted by Buddy and Bats, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx. Hamm, in particular, is dynamite being allowed to show his full range of emotional resonance while being egged on by his sexy companion, Darling (Eiza Gonz├ílez). Foxx hams it up as the unpredictable wildcard but his eccentric character bursts against the cast playing mostly more professional criminals. Spacey grounds the splendid cast with just enough wit and sly humour.

Edgar Wright | Baby Driver

Lily James plays the predictable waitress in distress, Debora, in a glowing but largely motivation heavy role. However, her charm and screen presence alongside Elgort is undeniable. Their sweet but accelerated love story is fairly typical all the way until it sets up the final act's showdowns.

This film doesn't quite have the same emotional stakes of Wright's previous works, but the music, sound design, and mixing elevate scenes of relationship building and character moments tremendously. However, Wright's solo effort without another notable collaborator (like Simon Pegg) in telling a completely original—if lovingly and intentionally derivative—story that sides much more with style over character without the same heart or charm we've come expect from his films.

Ultimately, Baby Driver is a stylish, well-crafted joyride full of Wright's A-plus cinematic sensibilities. It's wholly fun and celebrates the art of the moving image, fast cars, and genre filmmaking superbly. However, it does lean toward being a more superficially hollow journey filled with the usual action movie conventions. The film's standout, like most of Wright's films, is the flawless editing from shot to shot all choreographed perfectly to the film's eclectic soundtrack and song lyrics. This cements it as a total cinematic rush.

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