Watch Of The Week: Baby Driver

A movie about a getaway driver named Baby doesn’t sound like it would be a fresh breeze in a blockbuster landscape littered with tired ideas, but it is, largely thanks to Edgar Wright’s imaginative approach to filmmaking.

This is a man who’s previously gone into restrictive genres — buddy cop movies with Hot Fuzz, comic book movies with Scott Pilgrim v The World, zombie flicks with Shaun of the Dead — and injected his particular blend of storytelling to create magic. From the very first chase sequence, the beauty in the heart-racing, dance-like choreography is evident, and you’re totally engrossed. There’s no getting off this ride.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the getaway driver for Doc (Kevin Spacey), a crime lord who plans and recruits robbers for lucrative heists — banks, armoured trucks, and post offices. Baby is indentured to Doc after he accidentally crossed him when he was a teen and is paying off his debt by driving for him during his escapades.

As a child, Baby was in a car accident which killed his parents and gave him tinnitus. To drown out the constant ringing in his ears, he’s permanently attached to an iPod, favouring classics such as Queen, Young MC, The Damned and Dave Brubeck Quartet.

After one last gig, Baby is going to be free of Doc. He meets Debora (Lily James), a waitress, and they have one of those vintage movie courtships that involve two cute young things flirting their way around diners and laundromats, talking about music and their dreams to get away from it all. But Doc isn’t done with Baby yet, pulling him back in with a not-so-subtle threat against Debora. Baby, you see, is his lucky charm Tagging along is a ragtag group of criminals, including the Bonnie-and-Clyde pair of Buddy (a greasy Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) and Bats (Jamie Foxx), a self confessed loon with serious anger management issues.

You can’t sit through Baby Driver without being overtaken by Wright’s soundtrack choices — the music is the other character in this film, and it’s a pivotal influence on Baby’s emotional life. Among the dozens of songs in this movie, the most memorable are the ones that accompany the chases.

The masterful synchronicity between the driving and the music, down to every twitch and turn, is a tour de force in editing by Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss. There’s a grace to the action and to Baby, whose saunter down the street on a coffee run has an irresistible lyricism.

Elgort’s performance is an understated one, a smart choice considering the high-octane energy of the film, and hints at more gravitas than he’s been able to show in the teen flicks (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent series) that catapulted him to fame.

It’s especially welcome as a balancing force against the intensity of everyone else’s performances, which border on cliche — that was probably the point — but still manages to come off as original. Spacey’s Doc looks like an FBI agent from Edgar Hoover’s time and speaks like an associate of Al Capone.

It might take place in the world of criminals, and it’s got a fair bit of violence, but there is an exuberance in Baby Driver that makes the experience of watching it an absolute joy. And we would expect nothing less from Edgar Wright. Streaming on Netflix

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Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

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About Author / Boluwatife Adesina

Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

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