Contrary to what you might think, Baby Driver is not a Baby Geniuses franchise reboot. It’s also not a Weekend at Bernie’s-style comedy about a baby pretending to drive (sorry to disappoint). In fact, it’s one of about two wholly original summer movies, (the other being Dunkirk) and because of that, it gets to be a lot of different things. It’s a brutal heist movie, a dreamy teenage romance, an action/adventure/fantasy/musical; you get the point.
The movie is centered on Baby, a prodigious young getaway driver, who is driven by a taste for music. Forced into working for a crime boss, he is dragged back into the underworld he wants to leave behind, just as love finds its way to him in the form of a waitress who shares his passion for music.
The film opens like the climactic mission of a video game, a mesmerizing musical of cops and robbers along the freeways of Atlanta. The fantasy of a getaway driver and the 70s cool title card (named after a Simon & Garfunkel song) set the tone for a genre film that won’t abide by conventions, but won’t cast them aside either. Much like Edgar Wright’s previous work, the visual style of Baby Driver is eclectic. It’s alive with a rhythmic, flowing energy that perfectly locks in a loving embrace with the soundtrack.
Although masterful editing and a hyper-dynamic camera are practically a given from him, the film finds ways to be uniquely impressive, and Baby Driver oozes with standalone action prowess. The much touted trivia about this film is that the chase sequences, as elaborate and complex as they get, were shot entirely practical, which means that no CGI or green screen was used – just some really ballsy drivers. Having to do the action choreography with Matchbox cars, Wright blesses us with sequences akin to a child’s unhinged fantasy, with a fresh-faced study of morality to quell the young beast.
Music and action collide in this soundtrack. Baby Driver was first pitched 22 years ago, as “a car movie, driven by music.” And it truly is, because the soundtrack becomes the driving force of the film and Baby himself. Not quite as dark as Drive, but not exactly Drive Angry 3D either, Baby Driver carves out a path somewhere between electric music video and bleak crime drama.
The love story which evolves through a charming tale of musical enchantment had me smiling. I was totally charmed whenever the excellent Ansel Elgort, as Baby, and the flawless Lily James, as Debora, shared the frame. Like an apparition, she would appear angelic in reverie and reality, enigmatic like the rest of the stellar supporting cast, which includes an Oscar winner here and there.
With old-school-cool in its DNA and an intoxicating modernity, Baby Driver delivers on all fronts and then some – more you didn’t even know about. The film manages to revel in the criminal underbelly of morality, yet holds on to a distant condemnation through Baby’s ache for escape. With fluid yet tightly controlled set pieces that decorated the screen (and had me ready to bribe the projectionist to rewind), Baby Driver was a torrent of stimulating filmmaking, original writing, and an audiovisual open buffet worth revisiting with a doggie bag.
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