|Worth seeing:||if you want a car-chase-heavy crime thriller set to a thumping music soundtrack|
|Featuring:||Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Allison King, Andrea Frye, Brogan Hall, CJ Jones, Eiza González, Flea, Hal Whiteside, Jon Bernthal, Lanny Joon, Viviana Chavez, Walter Hill, Wilbur Fitzgerald|
|Released:||28th June 2017|
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver – the only constant in the bank jobs arranged by a crime boss known as Doc (Kevin Spacey).
Doc protects his own interests by ensuring that he never uses exactly the same crew for any job, but Baby is always there – and whoever else is on the crew, he never quite fits in.
With loud music blaring out constantly in his earphones, Baby is a bit of an enigma – he seems to be ignoring everything that’s going on around him, yet he’s sharp, understands everything and always gets the gang and their loot back to HQ safely.
Something else no-one else can work out about Baby is his relationship with Doc – it turns out that’s he’s not driving for him for fun – he’s paying off a debt. And paying off a debt to a crime boss is not a good position to be in.
When a Post Office heist teams him up with robbers he’s worked with before – the psychotic Bats (Jamie Foxx) and the ruthless husband and wife pair of Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González) – the other gang members still don’t trust him and the whole job is thrown into question.
But it’s more than just this heist that’s put in doubt – Baby’s future as a driver and Doc’s own authority are on the line.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Writer-director Edgar Wright has come a long way since he burst onto the big screen in 2004 with Shaun of the Dead – from Crouch End, London to Atlanta, Georgia to be precise.
The tone has changed too – from the frenetic, idiosyncratic and knowing comedy of the films that became known as his “Cornetto Trilogy” to a large-scale American crime-thriller. And it is thrilling. And enthralling. But Wright’s wry sense of humour is still very much evident
In truth, there’s not much original about the plot itself – or even the characters – there’ve been plenty of films about getaway drivers, fish-out-of-water criminals, hands-off king-pins, criminals trying to go clean, trigger-happy and tattooed gangsters – but Wright has managed to make this one feel fresh.
This is done by providing Baby with an unconventional home-life and a back-story which explains his dependence on music – loud music – continuously. This makes the sound-track – and the sound – characters in their own right.
The eclectic tracks – from artists including Queen, Simon & Garfunkel, Martha & the Vandellas, Barry White, T Rex and Blur – span the generations and have just one thing in common – a thumping rhythm that gives the film a pounding heartbeat that will carry the audience every bit as much as it carries the protagonist.
And he doesn’t just listen to music – he makes it too – which has its own consequences for the plot.
Baby Driver has the energy of films such as Run Lola Run – another crime thriller set against a pounding dance soundtrack – and inescapable echoes of Tarantino’s earlier work, with a kingpin rounding up gangsters, giving them nicknames to protect their identities and employing as much violence as is necessary to complete the job, with a cracking sound-track – which won’t hurt efforts to bring in extra merchandise money. There’s even something of the original Italian Job in there, as the team gather around the blackboard to plan their escape route.
As if to abdicate Baby from any responsibility for the crimes, Edgar Wright keeps his camera inside the car with him, with music blaring, while the robberies are taking place. But as the plot unfolds, Baby can’t avoid getting his hands dirty.
Given the energy of the film, Ansel Elgort himself is necessarily a fairly bland foil for what’s going on around him, but Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jon Hamm particularly seem to have having a lot of fun.
The film is largely linear, with a handful of brief flashbacks to explain Baby’s behaviour, and there are a handful of plot-points that feel pedestrian, obvious or unnecessary.
But with riveting car chases, neatly choreographed action scenes and shoot-outs edited to the effectively selected music, its a film whose drive and ambition ensure that while there’s little new going on at its heart, the surface is glistening with excitement.
Fasten your seat-belt for a nail biting ride.