We all know how good a filmmaker Edgar Wright is. From his early days making the Spaced TV show with his mate Simon Pegg, his talent was evident – his skill with framing and storytelling, sure, but it's in the editing booth that his skills really shine through. The pair (along with Nick Frost) made three excellent comedies with the Cornetto Trilogy, and Wright's vastly underrated Scott Pilgrim vs The World is probably the best "video game movie" ever made. Now with the car-chase thriller Baby Driver, Wright shows himself to be undeniably one of the best filmmakers in the world today.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Baby Driver is arguably Edgar Wright's best film to date. Unlike his previous works it's not an out-an-out comedy, although it does have some very funny moments. It's an action-packed crime caper come heist film, with some of the best car action seen on screen. But what really sets Baby Driver apart is Wright's use of music. The film features a killer soundtrack to rival the likes of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs or the Guardians of the Galaxy film, but what Wright cleverly does is match the beat of each scene to whatever song is playing at the time. That soundtrack is pumping with classic tracks, featuring such songs as Bellbottoms by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, a cover of Harlem Shuffle by Bob & Earl that is used very cleverly over the opening credits, B-A-B-Y by Carla Thomas, Martha and the Vandellas' Nowhere To Run, Easy by The Commodores, Tequila by The Button Down Brass and, of course, Simon & Garfunkel's Baby Driver.
The music is very much a character in the film, and is cleverly introduced by way of making it a quirk of the titular Baby (Ansel Elgort), who is a getaway driver for a criminal gang run by Doc (Kevin Spacey), to whom he owes a lot of money. Baby suffers from tinnitus, which he has had ever since the car accident he was in as a child, an accident that left him orphaned; so he's always got his iPod fully charged and plugged in to his ears. He's been driving (and stealing) cars ever since he could reach the pedals, and is one of the best drivers around. But when he meets and falls for waitress Debora (Lily James) in a diner, he decides that it's time to give up his life of crime.
The performances in Baby Driver are spot on. Elgort is possibly the best he's ever been as the charismatic and confident Baby – this is easily his most grown-up role yet – and there is definitely a strong chemistry between him and James. Their romance is what gives the film its heart, and it works a treat. Jon Hamm and Eisa González are also coupled up as Buddy and Darling, members of the gang that Baby drives for, and they are also cute and charming, in a slightly messed-up kinda way. Spacey is as creepy and sleazy and you'd expect as crime boss Doc, and Jamie Foxx is just perfect as the psychopathic Bats; his quiet menace really punches up the film's middle act.
There are some unexpected twists and turns along the way and things done't end up quite as you think they will, which is a refreshing change to much of the fare hitting our screens these days. Baby Driver is fast, frantic, exhilirating, funny and tense, and is one of the smartest and coolest films of the year. And it goes without saying that the editing is on par with everything the director has done before. Wright should justifiably be very proud of Baby Driver, it's a truly masterful piece of work, and after seeing it, and the heads of the Hollywood studios should be beating a path to his door – at top speed.