Starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm
Filmmaker Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) turns a corner in his career, shooting his first film in the United States. Working with new faces on screen and crew behind, it’s a new era for the director. Baby Driver is still very much in the vein of his previous work, but it’s more polished than The World’s End and more mainstream than Scott Pilgrim. The writer/director knows how to assemble a cast and manages to reinvigorate the rising career of Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) who got caught in that Divergent saga trap. The faced paced bank robbery heist flick has two impressive opening sequences that will put audiences in the right mood for the unpredictable circumstances to follow. Editing, both picture and sound, is extraordinary in the visual and audial experience of the film.
Doc (Spacey) runs the most lucrative heists in the city of Atlanta. Very specific on the crew and my way or highway rules of the job. The one curious factor to every criminal crew in charge, “What’s up with the driver?”. Baby (Elgort) is always listening to music and seemingly unfocused on the details. Turns out, the 22-year-old kid is Houdini behind the wheel of any vehicle. Bats (Foxx), Buddy (Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González) are the latest passengers. The quiet and reserved Baby also has a girl now, a waitress named Deborah (James) who likes music as much as he does and dreams of heading west after this final job. His dreams of escape complicated by family, audio recordings and one particular criminal who doesn’t trust his peculiar way of doing things.
A welcome alternative in the monopolized car chase genre
Once again, Elgort gets the opportunity to show us how cool he is. The dancing, lip singing, and the stunt driving in different color of sunglasses, all to the tune of an eclectic array of music that make him the coolest cat in town right now. Elgort radiates charm the way Tom Cruise once did in the 80’s, or more currently Taron Egerton in Kingsman. What Elgort hasn’t accomplished is playing anything outside of “that guy”. Baby Driver might just be the coolest and most complete film out of SXSW this year. Wright is the rare filmmaker who can deliver both impressive summer action sequences united with a visionary script that emits intelligence. Baby Driver also feels less like one of Wright’s backhanded spoofs, and more like an authentic summer movie creation American cinema needed.
Baby Driver is a welcome alternative in the monopolized car chase genre. It exceptionally eclipses the Fast & Furious films with better performances, greater suspense and more complex characters, not to mention, no need for a sequel. There are some memorable car chase sequences that should have audiences comparing notes for days. But the most profound element here is the long continuous takes (and those that appear seamless). If the script has a weak link, it’s the need for the basic teen love story. Baby Driver has enough subplots with adopted blind fathers, nightmarish flashbacks and dark character motivations, without the need for Lily James (Cinderella) flirting around a diner.
The coolest and most complete film out of SXSW this year