If you needed any further proof that cinema is a form of art, you need look no further than Baby Driver. Edgar Wright’s latest effort is a pivotal moment in his catalogue. With a stellar cast, an outstanding soundtrack, and precision engineered to the very finest detail, this small film about a getaway driver is one of the most moving pieces of cinema.
Baby Driver wastes no time at all in showing us what it can do. The film opens in one of the most enthralling car chases in living memory. The protagonist (the titular Baby, the greatest performance Ansel Elgort has played to date) is good at what he does. A coffee run serves as an introduction to some of our other leading characters, including the magnanimous Kevin Spacey and Jon Hamm. But here’s the kicker; it’s all choreographed perfectly to the film’s soundtrack. Every movement, every sound effect, at one point even other music is synchronised to Baby’s iPod, which he uses to drown out his tinnitus (which is cleverly woven into a emotional plot point).
Once the film stops showing off, its flashy cinematography switches gears as and when needed, brilliantly underpinning the action. Lyrics become prophetic in more emotional moments, particularly in connection to Baby’s late mother. We see her only in-brief flashbacks, and the Commodores’ track ‘Easy’ takes on great meaning. This, combined with the captivating relationship between Baby and Deborah (Lily James), give us an emotional investment in our protagonist that grounds the action.
Feistier tracks, most notably Queen’s ‘Brighton Rock’ and Focus’ ‘Hocus Pocus’, make the perfect score to the chaos of the film’s action scenes. Things quickly get out of hand for Baby, and you feel that tension. Though often humorous and a little silly, Wright’s style can turn on a dime to threatening when it needs to, and the brilliance of the cast aid that end. Even when everything falls apart, the film never sacrifices its style; every single detail is always geared towards a particular end.
Edgar Wright’s films have always been stylish, but until now he’s suffered from being somewhat restrained. With Baby Driver, Edgar Wright has really let himself run free, and the result is one of the most spectacular films of the year, perhaps even the decade.