Going into 2017, my most anticipated film of the year (aside from The Last Jedi, obviously) was Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. Being responsible for both the genius Cornetto Trilogy, and one of my favorite movies, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Wright has positioned himself as one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. Having such a profound love for this creative, I was naturally anxiously awaiting his latest work. I am delighted to say it did not disappoint.
Taking a stark departure from Wright’s traditional tonal fare, Baby Driver still manages to accentuate everything we know and love about his filmmaking style. The subtle storytelling, phenomenal character development, and impeccable integration of music into the narrative places Baby Driver just under Scott Pilgrim as Wright’s best work to date. This second-place ranking isn’t meant to discredit its status as the best movie of 2017 so far.
The way I would describe this film is a collaboration between Wright and Quentin Tarantino that Tarantino wasn’t actually on board for. It was clear that Wright was heavily inspired by Tarantino’s masterful control over unorthodox narrative construction, flawless characterization, and a smooth aesthetic. However, in composing a love letter to whom I can only assume is one of his idols, he never once neglects his own creative style. Long story short, think Reservoir Dogs meets Hot Fuzz.
The incredible character development was only made possible by top-notch performances from the entire ensemble cast. Ansel Elgort matches his unforgettable The Fault in Our Stars performance in a perfect portrayal of the suave and cool, but deeply troubled Baby. Jon Hamm and Eiza González work perfectly as a Bonnie and Clyde-esque couple with a unique twist. Jamie Foxx gives an excellent performance as a love-to-hate thug. Kevin Spacey is Kevin Spacey, not much else to say here. The only performance I found to be somewhat weak was Lily James as Debora, but her fantastic chemistry with Elgort more than made up for it. I’m not going to dive much deeper into how well-written each character is here, as I could (and probably will) write multiple analytical essays on the subject.
What is perhaps the strongest element of this film, and what definitely will be the most talked about for years to come, is its soundtrack. Wright has always been one to cleverly integrate music into his movies (ex. the Don’t Stop Me Now scene in Shaun of the Dead), but never on this scale. Not only are all of the track choices aesthetically perfect for the style of the film, but the way he weaves the music into the narrative is unprecedented in cinema. I can try all day to explain it here, but seeing the movie for yourself will do the job way better than I can.
Other than sporadic jarring plot conveniences, Baby Driver was a near-perfect movie. I give its stark originality a warm welcome in a summer filled to the brim with sequels and remakes. If you’re an Edgar Wright fan, you’ve already seen it. If you aren’t, you owe it to yourself to speed down to your local theater and take the ride.
Final Verdict: Must See