By Luke Gair
It is a rare thing for me to willingly go and see an action movie. However, when I saw that Edgar Wright’s latest film, Baby Driver, was playing at the SUT, there wasn’t the slightest chance I’d neglect something so rare. After Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), I was excited to see how he would transpose his quirky, vibrant directing style into an action thriller.
After getting roped into working for a clean-cut crime boss (Kevin Spacey), Baby (Ansel Elgort) is forced to be the escape driver for hired criminals (Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzáles, Jon Bernthal) in several high-profile robberies. Baby’s skills are first debuted in an opening sequence of burnout turns and ludicrous speeds.
I usually find that great action sequences are a time-filling bore, but the ones featured in the film painted Elgort’s character as one who contrasts the typical cutthroat criminal. Whether he hands a purse back to the woman he steals a car from or swerves the car so Foxx’s character is unable to shoot a pursuer, it’s evident he holds himself to a certain standard.
Baby finds himself falling for a soft-spoken waitress (Lily James) who wants to escape the life she is living and start fresh. After his life of crime, Baby begins to share this dream, which furthers their relationship without making it the central point of the film. Still, Wright successfully makes the audience fall in love with Baby and Deborah as a couple. Although Baby mostly succeeds in keeping his criminal life separate from his personal one, there are times they cross over and place his relationships on the line.
In Baby’s room, we are presented with a music studio-esque setup along with a throng of different iPod and cassette players. It becomes evident his love for music is handed down from his mother, who was once a singer herself. Music is presented as not only a cure for his tinnitus, but as a way to remedy his grief for his deceased mother, who was lost in a childhood car accident.
Although the daring stunts and excitement of police chases endeared me, I found the core mechanic of the film wasn’t the action itself but the array of great music that accompanied it. Whether it was Carla Thomas or Simon and Garfunkel, the music always had a purpose. From our first glimpse at Baby in the front seat of a Subaru, he is listening to his iPod. Throughout the film, there is almost no moment he does not don those white earbuds.
It might be cliché, but Edgar Wright’s latest film quite literally kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Featuring the perfect blend of action, romance, and comedy, Baby Driver is not a film to miss out on.