I’m personally a big fan of Edgar Wright mostly stemming from films such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. A couple years ago, Wright was supposed to write and direct Marvel’s Ant Man film but left the project during production due to creative differences with Disney. Getting the boot from Disney allow him to work on his passion project, a film called Baby Driver which he has tried to make since 1994. With all his ducks in a row, Wright puts an ensemble cast together to bring his stylistic touch to life, does Baby Driver hold up against his earlier work? Yes and No.
The film begins in Downtown Atlanta with a trio of bank robbers and their very odd getaway driver named…Baby (Ansel Elgort). Baby doesn’t talk much and is almost OCD-like when it comes to his music, but one thing is for sure, he is an absolute demon behind the wheel of a car. Baby works for Doc (Kevin Spacey), a crime lord who Baby mistakenly stole from and now has to drive for to repay his debt. When Baby meets a waitress at a local diner (Lily James), he dreams of being done with the criminal underbelly, but the life of crime sees him as too valuable to walk away on his own accord, so he must decide to fight, flight, or lose everything.
There is tons of style here from the brilliant editing to the vibrant colors that jump out on-screen. You can tell that Wright put a lot of effort into the cinematic aspect of the movie and the hard work pays off here. Another major strength is the creative use of music. It doesn’t quite use great pop music like Guardians of The Galaxy but there will be some songs added to your collection once the film is over. The main character Baby suffers tinnitus from a nearly deadly car accident and uses his multiple MP3 players to keep the ringing out of his head. A very clever play in sound editing allows you to experience the ‘hum in the drum’ that Baby experiences but it don’t last long. As a matter of fact, I felt like the movie introduces many interesting concepts early on but slowly forgets about them as the story progresses.
As great as the filmmaking is, I simply can’t say the same about the characters. It was really hard to feel anything for anyone and that’s uncharacteristic for an Edgar Wright film. Anyone who has watched Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz knows exactly what I mean. There is simply nothing special about them to hold on to outside of what you are told about them. Outside of Baby being a functioning Autist, there isn’t anything that special about him. Certain character traits with him that are actually interesting like his obsession with recording random sounds and turning them into music simply aren’t given the time it needs or they don’t explain it very well. The love angle in the film is forced as well, outside of one conversation in the, there isn’t a reason Debora would fall for someone who she knows is a known criminal and run away with him without reason. Everyone else is one note and they aren’t entertaining enough to overcome it outside of Jon Bernthal who you don’t see in the film for every long.
Ultimately, I felt about Baby Driver, the same way I felt about another Edgar Wright film, The World’s End. I liked the movie, but it simply wasn’t as good as other projects I’ve seen from him. There is much to like about the filmmaking and some of the creative choices, the story and the acting (especially Jaime Foxx) weighs down what would have been a great film down to a good film. I felt like the movie had the potential to be so much better, but it wasn’t which is disappointing given the hype surrounding this movie. As it stands, Baby Driver is entertaining and full of spirit, even if it’s on the mid-tier of Wright’s great collection.