By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer
Best known for his witty writing and quirky directing style in “The Cornetto Trilogy” (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” and “The World’s End”) and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” Edgar Wright refreshes moviegoers with a stylish action film that dances along with a thrilling soundtrack.
“Baby Driver” stars Ansel Elgort as the the young, shades-wearing getaway driver, Baby. Though he’s a man of few words and always has his earbuds plugged in, he’s the best at what he does. Heist after heist, Baby drives his crew to safety every time and always to the beat of his extensive playlist. However, Baby is a good person at heart, so the film hinges on him attempting to distance himself from the crime world, especially after meeting the love of his life.
Unlike Wright’s previous directorial efforts, “Baby Driver” is less of a comedy and more of an action or thriller film. It isn’t without dozens of laughs, however. As a master of visual comedy, Wright inserts his sense of humor through the way he frames shots, places actors, and designs the set. The majority of the comedy comes specifically from the way characters, objects, and sounds follow the beat of the film’s diegetic music. Much like the recently released “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” the catchy tunes pumps up both the characters and the audience. Right from the get go, “Baby Driver” shows off its epic car stunts and plays a good song to instantly get the viewers on board for the ride.
The soundtrack from “Baby Driver,” which is available on most music streaming platforms, is perfect for someone like myself who drives for fairly long periods of time almost every day. As a good movie soundtrack should be, every inclusion is kinetic to preserve the film’s pacing. There’s also somewhat of a story being told as the songs go on.
As far as the acting goes, Ansel Elgort pleasantly surprised me. I haven’t watched any of the movies he was in until “Baby Driver,” and even then, I only watched “Baby Driver” because it was written and directed by Edgar Wright. I’ve always written Elgort off as just another teen heart-throb in movies that never appealed to me. However, Elgort’s portrayal of Baby exudes both coolness and sweetness. He even has decent chemistry with Baby’s love interest, played by Lily James. It took a few scenes for me to really get into the other characters, however. As the cast grew, I could only see Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx planning and executing bank heists, not their characters. That can be a problem when casting such recognizable talent in supporting roles, but luckily things changed once we got to know the characters a bit more.
If I had to really criticize something from “Baby Driver,” which is difficult to do, I’d say that some of the slower scenes last a tad too long. I’m a firm supporter of action movies taking a scene or two to slow down, catch its breath, and develop characters, but “Baby Driver” clocks in at nearly two hours, which is a little long for such a simple film. Maybe I’m a little too accustomed to Edgar Wright’s films moving at an insanely fast pace, but I think a few minutes could have been shaved off here and there to make “Baby Driver” a bit more seamless.
“Baby Driver” is still a joyride of a movie that I’ll be seeing at least once more in theaters. It’s one of the very few major films coming out this summer that’s not based on something that already exists, and the only out of the three of this year’s car-related films to be legitimately good. Even if you’re not already a fan of Edgar Wright, the action choreography, clever writing, and toe-tapping music of “Baby Driver” is sure to charm you.