Baby Driver (2017) Review: The Best In The Business
In a world where every weekend the Baby Driver’ is perhaps the most unique film to come out this summer. It’s a nice respite for those of us sick of the usual mega blockbuster that often defies logic, and wears the viewer down with its exhausting runtime. It follows Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, a getaway driver for a gang of bank robbers, led by the incorrigible Doc, played by Kevin Spacey. Baby is the best in the business, but even though his hands are magic behind the wheel, his heart isn’t in it. Baby would like nothing more than to ride off into the sunset, free to drive his own way. Like the cowboys of old.
‘Baby Driver’ is a familiar story. We’ve seen the tale of the criminal with a heart of gold before. Despite that, the movie feels infinitely fresh with every moment that passes. A large part of that is due to the absolutely stellar car stunts on display. ‘Baby Driver’ makes the Fast and Furious films look like child’s play. The stunts themselves are intricately designed and a thrill to watch, as Baby maneuvers a car like it’s an extension of himself.
Watching it is one thing, but listening to it is another. Baby suffers tinnitus and is often overburdened by the everyday noises of life. To drown out the confusion, he constantly has a pair of earbuds playing everything from smooth jazz to classic rock. Baby’s music is at times the centerpiece of a scene, with a gunfight perfectly synced up to the beat of a drum. Everything in ‘Baby Driver’ makes it feel like it’s constantly moving forward, with an expert level of pacing, as Edgar Wright delivers another gem that’s absolutely brimming with creativity.
That constant momentum doesn’t mean the movie moves at a breakneck speed. Yes, there are times when Baby is traveling that quickly, but ‘Baby Driver’ knows when to take it slow as well. Meaningful character moments are spliced in to offset the intense action. Most come from Baby’s interactions with Lily James’ Deborah. James plays a waitress who shares Baby’s love of music. The two were at times more engaging than the car chases and gunfights, and the true heart of the movie.
I have much disdain for Ansel Elgort. The first movie I was unfortunate to see him in was ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. He’s not been in much else, outside of the ‘Divergent’ series, and a few other young adult novel adaptations. So while I don’t have much to go off of, walking out of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, I was entirely put off by his constant smug expression and general smarmy demeanour. I knew that a large part of that was his character in that movie was intentionally obnoxious, but I digress.
For a long time, I’ve been unable to disassociate Ansel Elgort from Agustus Waters. That is until Baby Driver, where Elgort comes into his own. He’s charming, sympathetic and the type of character you root for. He’s haunted but whimsical, and I was invested in his story, mostly based on Elgort’s truly human, multi-faceted portrayal of him. It’s clear Elgort put a lot into his performance, as he completely embodied who Baby was, right down to how certain songs make him feel.
‘Baby Driver is a film that is a master class in many things. It excels in directing, sound editing, sound mixing, even simple story progression. So many of what ‘Baby Driver’ does well, it does better than most films at their best. There are moments in ‘Baby Driver’ that elicit genuine awe. Ones that take the viewer by surprise, and defies their expectations. In a perfect world, this film makes all the money possible and is seen by audiences everywhere. Unfortunately, it’ll be yet another film that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it truly deserves.