Baby Driver - stylish, full of clichés but what fun!
Edgar Wright is in love.
It is plain to see. He loves cars. He loves music. He loves old-fashioned crime/heist movies. Best of all; he's not afraid to show it.
Baby Driver is the latest film from British director Edgar Wright and it is receiving critical acclaim, deservedly so. The last time Wright was in the headlines was his infamous bust-up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe which led to him walking away from Ant-Man.
So, let's talk plot. Ansel Elgort (previously seen in the Insurgent/Divergent movies) plays a young man named "Baby" who has a "hum in the drum" as Kevin Spacey describes it in the film. Baby plays music through ear-phones almost constantly to overcome tinnitus, the result of a car accident which killed his parents when he was young. He is also an exceptionally skilled car thief and getaway driver. Spacey leads a team of criminals including Jon Hamm, John Bernthal, and Eiza González as they pull off a number of heists. This aspect of the story-telling is predictable; from the gang members antagonising each other to the films ultimate conclusion in which the gang members turn on each other. We have seen this story in countless heist films before. It is almost a cinematic trope at this stage. Along the way, Baby meets a waitress, Debra (played by Lily James fresh from Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and the pair fall in love, planning to run away together; he from a life of crime and she from a hum-drum life.
As stories go, this one is fairly predictable and the end is signposted early on. What elevates this film is the love with which it has been made. Wright wrote and directed the film and one can tell it was a film that has been inside him for some time, a film he has been longing to make. The result is that his passion is up there on the screen. The script is sharp, if a little clichéd and some of the dialogue a little clunky; so the film is not without its faults (to use a Litotes).
Hands up who could walk down a street with Stayin' Alive playing on headphones and not swagger a little à la John Travolta? And so it is with Baby Driver. The music is not just a soundtrack for the film, it becomes a soundtrack to which the film is choreographed. Gunshots resound on the downward beat of Tequila and cars smack into each other in rhythm. The most joyous scene is the first few minutes, after the opening credits, when our hero, Baby struts down to his local coffee shop with Bob and Earl's Harlem Shuffle playing. Everything from his physical movements to lyrics cleverly pasted to lamp-posts is in tempo with the music. This scene alone is worth the price of the cinema ticket and the reason I will go back to see the film again. Like a scene from Airplane, there is a lot going on in the background.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Go see it, it will make you smile. It might even make you cry at the end but that's ok too.
I'm going to end this review with a question for Edgar Wright - what other passion projects are in your head? Please get them on film. We need to see them.