Prior to seeing Baby Driver, my only experience with director Edgar Wright was the movie Scott Pilgrim vs the World (which I found merely alright). I have not seen his trio of Simon Pegg starring movies, and have been told repeatedly that I am missing out on some classics. Truthfully, before his latest movie, his biggest claim to fame in my eyes was backing out of directing Ant Man for Marvel. Now, after seeing Baby Driver, I can say that seeing his “classic” films has become a top priority.
When I first saw the trailer for Baby Driver, I was caught off guard by how great it looked. How could this movie – which at that point I had never heard of, starring an actor who was completely untested as a lead, and directed by someone who’s work I was very unfamiliar with – immediately become my must-see movie of the summer. The last time I had gotten this excited over a movie I had no prior knowledge of was Kingsman: The Secret Service, and that wound up being my favorite movie of the year. Every time I saw a trailer for Baby Driver, my anticipation got higher and higher. Thankfully, the final result delivered what I was hoping for, with one exception (which I will get to in a bit).
The supporting cast is obviously a huge standout for even the most casual of movie fans. Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx all give one of the best performances of their careers, even with limited screen time. Spacey in particular is the best he’s been in a quite some time – even though he is still considered one of today’s greatest living actors, most of his movie roles over the past decade have been undeserving of his talents. Jon Bernthal, who has a very small role, isn’t as lucky (I’m starting to think he is physically incapable of playing someone who isn’t a jackass). British beauty Lily James, who is basically an unknown to North American audiences (unless you saw the live action Cinderella) plays Baby’s waitress girlfriend, and her performance could very well be a star making turn. Finally, Ansel Elgort, who’s roles to date have primarily been in teen-oriented book adaptations, is great as the title character. Though he really doesn’t have much dialogue in the film, he displays more talent than he has in all his other movies combined. Don’t be surprised to see him getting more leading roles in the future.
Another big plus for the movie is the music selection. Baby Driver doesn’t just have a great soundtrack – it actually uses music a plot point. Due to an accident in his youth, baby has a constant humming in his ears, and he needs to listen to the tunes to drown it out. This allows him to keep his focus while driving the getaway vehicles. I can’t recall any movie in recent memory where the music could actually be considered a supporting character.
If I had to choose the one thing I found somewhat disappointing, it would be the lack of actual car chases. The scenes that they did show were really amazing, but for some reason I felt like there should have been more. I know that I probably expected too much, but I need to accept the fact that quality is more important than quantity. The final chase alone, though it actually gets excessively violent, is better than any other chase scene I have seen in the last few years.
If you are a fan of this type of movie, I highly recommend you try and catch it in cinemas before it’s gone. In a summer movie season full of big budget spectacles, it really is nice to see a smaller, but exciting, movie get so much attention. Now to go watch Shaun of the Dead!
FINAL REVIEW: A-