(Originally published on the No. 6 Cinema website, available to read online here.)
Edgar Wright’s journey from Channel 4 sitcom (Spaced) to summer blockbuster (Baby Driver) – with a cult Cornetto-based trilogy in the middle – is impressive in itself. The fact that he’s pulled his latest project off to almost absolute perfection is even more remarkable.
Baby Driver has an interesting set-up: a fresh-faced getaway driver uses music to drown out his tinnitus. This concept creates some stand-out scenes that see the soundtrack become masterfully interwoven with the film’s plot.
As Baby (B-A-B-Y, Baby) waits patiently outside a bank for the rest of the heist crew, he turns on the wiper blades in time to the beat of the song he’s listening to on his iPod. As he walks down the street the next day, the lyrics appear on the street signs and walls that he glides past as if by magic.
Music plays such an important part in the movie that it’s almost essential to watch it in optimum conditions – in other words, only the glorious surround sound of the No. 6 Cinema on the 8th of September will do!
As Wright puts it himself: “It’s kind of like a musical.” This movie never goes full-on La La Land (although some of the choreography would hold its own against Damien Chazelle’s majestic musical numbers), the description seems apt. It’s also sharp, slick and a joy to watch.
The song choices are inspired and always fit the tone of the scene, and the soundtrack is almost as fun to listen to by itself. Of course, if you were to do that, you’d be missing out on the high-octane chase scenes, razor-sharp writing and grippingly fun-to-watch performances.
The main protagonist, played by Ansel Egort, is somewhat of a blank slate, being buoyed by hugely entertaining supporting characters supplied by the marvellous Jamie Foxx, John Hamm and Kevin Spacey.
Foxx in particular stands out by portraying the unsettlingly out of control and impulsively violent Bats, who is experienced in the world of crime, yet also has more than just a hint of crazy in him.
Fans of Wright’s fast-paced editing in certain sequences, such as Sergeant Angel’s train journey from London to Sandford in Hot Fuzz, may be left slightly disappointed by their absence. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that there isn’t the same level of meticulous detail that he has become known for.
The 43-year-old also displays his filmmaking flair throughout the movie; if the Academy decided to introduce an award for ‘Best Scene Transition’, the Oscar would surely go to the delightful moment a spinning washing machine fades into a record on a turntable.
The huge critical acclaim and glowing audience reception that Baby Driver has received is just rewards for Wright’s career, which has been steadily building up to a hit such as this one.
Ultimately, Baby Driver isn’t his best movie, but it’s by far his most crowd-pleasing, and yet another from his filmography that I’ll be revisiting again and again. There have already been talks of a sequel – I say bring it on!