Edgar Wright has proven to be one of the most consistent film directors of our time. On Saturday night he premiered his latest flick, Baby Driver at SXSW. At first I found SXSW being the premiere location to be odd, but after watching the action musical it makes sense entirely. Edgar describes his latest entry as a ‘getaway car movie driven by the beat of the music.’ He has been planning the film for as long as star of the movie, Ansel Elgort, has been alive (22 years), and it truly shows.
Baby Driver follows Baby, a young man who constantly plays music in his ears to drown out all the noise of life. He lives and breathes not only by the rhythm of his tunes, but by the roaring engines of speeding cars as well. Due to unfortunate events in his life, Baby is stuck in a life of crime as a getaway driver for Doc (Kevin Spacey) and his hired bank robbers. Baby only finds enjoyment in his music and the breath of his cars, but he wants nothing more than to leave behind the life of crime. After meeting a gorgeous young woman that he finally connects with, Baby sees a way to leave the dangerous racing life. He is willing to risk it all to finally find a happiness and freedom he has not experienced in a really long time.
As stated earlier, this movie is an action musical. Edgar chooses a variety of his favorite music and utilizes them to carry the tempos of scenes. Whatever song is playing during its respected scene usually carries meaning to the mood or atmosphere of said scene. For example, the film’s glorious opening sequence begins with a song meant to hype up Baby as he gets ready to take off with his band of thieves. The action sequences that follow garnered an ovation from the crowd as it impressed everyone in attendance. Edgar and his team spent a lot of time carefully planning the editing and rhythm of the film. There’s many moments where the music is synced with actions within the scenes, such as the cocking of a gun, bullets blasting from their barrels, or the screeching of tires against pavement. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction at noticing these musical moments and the film is riddled with them everywhere. Even dialogue itself is musical in a sense, as the talented team of actors bounce off each other naturally in good tempo.
The characters each hold individual personality and the cast adds to their likability. Jamie Foxx’s Bats is violent and unpredictable, and Foxx has proven his scary yet funny acting chops with roles such as his in Horrible Bosses. Doc, played by the celebrated Kevin Spacey, is bold, power-hungry, and funny in his condescending nature. The main romantic duo have good chemistry, and Baby and Lily James’s Deborah make you hope they succeed in their growing relationship. Jon Hamm’s Buddy and Eiza Gonzalez’s Darling are the Bonnie & Clyde of the film and are both cool and sexy in their thieving lives. If you have any concerns about this movie being more action and not enough Wright-style, I can assure you that you have nothing to worry about. Very quickly you will learn that Wright brought his style of humor to the film and it is evident through these characters.
My favorite part of this film is that it holds emotional resonance. As the movie progresses the intensity rises, akin to playing your favorite song and cranking up the volume as it plays. Stakes grow and rise with the wild action that ensues. We learn about Baby’s past and what keeps him moving through life. In various moments I felt genuine empathy for Baby and where his journey has brought him. Sweet songs play that carry weight to his life, particularly one near the end of the movie that shows how intertwined music really is to this movie. In the end, the identity of this unique flick is behind the music and its effect on our lives. Music uplifts us, saddens us, angers us, but most importantly it keeps us moving. Two huge thumbs up for Edgar Wright and I cannot wait for others to enjoy this fantastic action comedy!
Baby Driver premieres in theaters in August, 2017.