Baby wants to drive your car, for Wright or for wrong ?
The titular Baby is a prodigy getaway guru that heads up and literally drives the story of Edgar Wright’s latest film. A crime caper that feels thoroughly modern, yet classically cult.
Baby is Ansel Elgort, a 23 year old relative newcomer for those of us who haven’t followed the teen market hits of The Fault in our Stars or the Divergent movies. I’m guessing most of you will be familiar with the instigator of the films illegalities, Mr Kevin Spacey, and supporting cast, notably Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm. None of the above are gunning for an Oscar, but each play their parts pretty well.
The film feels like a gentler Tarnantino riffing on 500 Days of Summer.
It is super stylised, with the music (like Guardians of the Galaxy) playing a starring role. Wright cites Tarantino, Scorcese and early Walter Hill as significant muses for his creation.
The opening scene is electric, with Baby almost dancing with his car rather than just cranking up a conventional chase scene. This is choreographed further into how Baby continues on foot strutting and jiving down a street with ingenious tricks that sync and enhance the scene. This is a toe tapping joy to guide us in. Like a Bond film it throws everything at you in these opening minutes to set the bar high, and for story and more thrills to follow. The flourishes of dance, parkour, use of rhythm and choreography are interwoven into the action with resounding success throughout the film. It is what this film does best.
There is plenty more to enjoy about this film as mini ensembles of crews develop for different jobs, and Baby’s backstory, present and future are realised through some really well crafted chapters.
However the film plateaus about two thirds of the way in. Characters become clichéd, the plot and twists become a little too predictable, and the denouement is just that tad too long and contrived to get us over the finishing line. It feels like a film that is reaching for the classic accomplishments of its influences, but ends up being a really good mash-up cover version.
If you like the sound of what you have heard so far, make no mistake you will be thoroughly entertained. I would recommend you catch this in the cinema for all the moments when the film really does pull off a great song and dance act. I also think that Wright has delivered on embracing and largely nailing a new genre in his repertoire that stands apart from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz et al.
Baby Driver makes for a really entertaining 8/10 from moi, but just doesn’t quite muster the consistent originality or gravitas of what has gone before it to make this ride extraordinary.