“You can’t be into crime without being a little criminal.”
Edgar Wright has returned with his fifth feature film in Baby Driver. He made his mark on Gen X’ers and more-refined millenials with his Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy, consisting of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. He deviated from his expected British flair with the quirky graphic novel adaptation, Scott Pilgrim vs The World. It has been four years since his last release and his return is more than due.
The title, Baby Driver, may make you think this is a sequel to Baby’s Day Out, but to clear up any confusion, it centers around a character named Baby (Ansel Elgort). He’s a young getaway driver that works exclusively with Doc (Kevin Spacey) and whatever crew he comes up with for a particular job. Baby is a criminal with a heart of gold, but keeping distance from the harshness of a criminal life can only last for so long.
With his work on Baby Driver, Edgar Wright has definitely grown up. He could always be counted on for his brilliant takes and editing process, but he was almost pigeon-holed as a director to make quirky comedies that are made for film/genre buffs only. Baby Driver shows the next evolution of his abilities and it’s a welcome step.
Baby Driver leaves the overt geek references behind and focuses on the tight story about a driver, the woman he loves, and some heists gone wrong.
There is one character that is far more important than even Baby himself – The Soundtrack. Baby is largely mute in the movie, only ever caring to speak up when he’s with Debora (Lily James). In fact, this could almost qualify as a silent movie, if it weren’t for the constant yammering from the aforementioned criminals who love to hear themselves speak (Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jamie Foxx and Jon Bernthal).
As Baby needs earbuds in his ears at all times, he literally plays us the soundtrack to his exploits. Every song is crafted by him to play over a tense car chase, twitterpation, dread and anxiety, and lastly a thrilling showdown. I left this film and immediately downloaded the ’70s funk soundtrack. I now have Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Bob & Earl, Dave Brubeck, and Focus on regular rotation. Even if you aren’t into this genre of music, it’s hard to deny the pull of each track in the film.
Fans expecting just another Scott Pilgrim should be warned. This is far more mature. Much like how Baby gets entangled into crimes he never wants to see, Edgar Wright explores the real harshness of those crimes. There are actual stakes and tragedy. We only see the heists from Baby’s perspective, but the violence becomes all too real. In this way, Wright does not glorify the life of crime. When things go poorly, they get really ugly.
There is masterful choreography in Baby Driver. Each element builds on each other. This ranges from the sound of bullets, squealing tires, and dialogue. Essentially, Baby Driver is a precisely crafted film where nothing is accidental.
If it’s not quite clear, I loved Baby Driver. It’s violent and less funny than Wright’s previous films, but like any decent band, he’s taking the next logical step in his career and allowing the audience to grow with him. A