Baby Driver marks the release of director Edgar Wright’s first film since his highly publicised departure from Marvel’s 2015 film, Ant-Man due to creative differences. The creative mind behind such acclaimed works as the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs the World brings us an original story full of action, intriguing characters and visual craftsmanship.
Baby Driver follows the day to day life of Baby (Ansel Esgort), a good natured young man brought into a life of crime after being coerced by crime boss Doc, played by Kevin Spacey. Searching for a way out, due to his new-found companionship with diner waitress Debora, (Lily James) he is faced with a new desperation to leave this life of crime behind. However due to his talent as a getaway driver and Doc’s growing dependency on his abilities, this proves difficult with him finding himself in a life-threatening predicament that he must escape alone.
The cast is spectacular. Kevin Spacey unsurprisingly given his previous stellar performances in House of Cards, The Usual Suspects and Se7en just to name a few, makes for a threatening and sinister antagonist who despite being rather likeable is very much a figure to be feared. Jamie Foxx, John Hamm and Eiza Gonzàlez playing Bats, Buddy and Darling respectively all contribute to this further by portraying an ensemble of mentally unstable, terrifying and again very likeable villains, enforcing the reality that Baby is very much in over his head. Lily James also steals the show as a result of her on-screen chemistry with lead actor Ansel Esgort, culminating in one of the more memorable and believable love stories seen on-screen in recent times. Often in modern films a love story becomes secondary to the highly impactful action that surrounds it, however the performances by the two young actors makes for a heart-warming contrast that becomes integral to the story as a whole.
Ansel Esgort despite being the main character plays the perfect in-point for any audience member. His relatively minimal dialogue is used effectively when paired with the films phenomenal soundtrack that is utilised as an effective plot device due to the characters need to block out the constant ringing in his ears caused by Tinnitus. It is through this that the audience is put in the driver seat (pun-intended) as the main character, seeing the whole film from his perspective.
The breakout star of the film however comes in the form of director Edgar Wright. The filmmaking genius behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz has proven himself again and again to be one of the creative and original directors in modern times. Baby Driver is a prime example of this, with the film arguably establishing itself as his strongest to date. In a world full of reboots, sequels and adaptions from other media, it is so refreshing to have a film with such originality and charm. The story itself is more gripping than most films in recent memory with characters that are truly engaging. However, the story and characterisation come secondary to the films mind-blowing cinematography.
Baby Driver is a visual work of art that demonstrates Wright’s genius as a filmmaker through its perfectly crafted action sequences and car chases, creative visual ques and its soundtrack that has been fine-tuned to perfection. The on-screen movement plays out in perfect synchronisation with the soundtrack mimicking that of a carefully choreographed musical without the singing. With actions such as gun shots and car crashes playing out perfectly in time with the soundtrack, it is easy to forget that large portions of the film are without dialogue.Wright has demonstrated an understanding of film that truly resulted in a movie exploding with originality and engagement in a way that no film in recent memory has. It is almost a genre of its own with scenes that flow so smoothly with the films score that I find myself racking my brain to find even any contemporary music video that does this as effectively.
Being a huge Marvel fan I remember leaving the cinema back in 2015 after viewing Ant-Man, feeling somewhat underwhelmed. It was not until viewing this film that I was able to truly grasp why that was. The truth of the matter is that the film is a solid action flick that hits all of the highs that any great superhero film does successfully. However, it is because of the expectations I was left with knowing that Edgar Wright had been originally selected to direct it that I would have been underwhelmed with just about any other director taking his place. Although I will always feel like the world is missing out without ever having seen that film eventuate, Baby Driver was more than enough to leave me feeling satisfied that great directors such as Wright are still out there.
I look forward to future releases by one of my favourite directors and am certain I will see this film more than once while it is still in cinemas.
Review by Jameel Khan
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