Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Film Review: Baby Driver


Sleek, stylish and full of swagger, Baby Driver is a must-see film for fans of filmmaking everywhere.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a talented getaway driver working off a debt to mob boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) by way of taking part in increasingly audacious bank heists.

A devil behind the wheel, Baby suffers from tinnitus and uses a string of retro iPods to drown out the hum through music to the point where his driving, the heists and his entire life is soundtracked by the music grooving from his earbuds.

When Baby falls for a cute waitress called Debora (Lily James), he looks to find a way out of the getaway game; but Doc and his entourage of kooky accomplices have their sunk their hooks into Baby and pull him back in for one last score that is doomed from the start.

The opening five to 10 minutes of Baby Driver are as close to cinematic perfection as you can get, and for the most part Wright achieves this without any of his characters uttering a single line of dialogue. We open with a bank heist that acts as a punchy overture; before the title card has even popped into view, Wright has charged out the gate at terminal velocity and served up a sequence for the ages.

From here it would have been all too easy for Baby Driver to ease up. And yet, through all the slower parts, it never feels like Wright takes his foot off the gas. The whole film is a finely tuned and well-oiled machine just cruising through with confidence and bravado, soundtracked by an eclectic array of diegetic funk, soul, reggae and rock.

To say we’ve never seen anything like it would be inaccurate; Wright’s influences, which range from classic 60s and 70s muscle car movies like Bullitt and Vanishing Point to more modern Tarantino crime films, are well documented, but to say it doesn’t feel fresh, vibrant and wholeheartedly Wright would also be unfair to a filmmaker who has undoubtedly found his groove (pun intended) in Baby Driver.

This is his most sincere and confident film yet, his least comedic (in a good way) and his most open and approachable for newcomers yet to be inducted into the cornetto church of Wright. Baby Driver isn’t as geeky as Scott Pilgrim vs the World, as goofy as Hot Fuzz or as gooey as Shaun of the Dead; it’s more mature and forceful instead, a whirlwind of squealing tires that sees the filmmaker upshift into a higher gear in pursuit of a single vision.

Said vision has been meticulously pruned and stitched together in the final product; you’re unlikely to see such a more polished mainstream Hollywood film this year, or a cooler one for that matter.

Elgort shakes off his teen heartthrob persona while still retaining an integral naivety. The chemistry he forges with costar James is a defining trait that thankfully sings when it could have stumbled. A menagerie of supporting characters – which includes Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez as devilish duo Buddy and Darling, Jaime Foxx as the unnerving Bats and Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers of all people – lend weight to the claim that not a single ounce of talent in Baby Driver goes to waste. Foxx in particular is a hoot – his wildly unpredictable character proudly flaunts his mental problems and is a persistent wild card as Doc's crew put together their final heist.

Some films just need to be seen to be believed, and Baby Driver definitely fits that bill. The action is edited together with aplomb, the practical car stunts are exemplary and the overall aura of cool is effortlessly conveyed. 

The Verdict: 9.5/10


Wright shows a deft understanding of genre in composing a film that has been gestating in his brain for knocking on 20 years, and the final product is nothing short of brilliant. Elgort is a surprisingly good lead, James is cute as a button and the supporting cast is a string of scene stealing talent; make sure you see it in the largest possible format for the best experience.

Baby Driver is in cinemas across Australia now.

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