The hipster incarnation of the Transporter.
Edgar Wright is one of the most talented men working in Hollywood today. His Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, which includes Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End, is comedy at its finest. Although Scott Pilgrim vs. the World delivered meager box office results, it’s widely considered a cult classic. Despite the success of his films among film aficionados, he’s never truly made a mainstream film. Baby Driver, however, is his first foray into mainstream filmmaking, but does it retain the sharp wit and well developed characters we’ve come to know his films by?
Baby Driver sees expert getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) relying on the sound and beat of his preferred soundtrack to help him navigate through the world of crime. He believes his time as a getaway driver is coming to an end, as he is very close to paying off his debt to the mysterious kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby then begins romancing a diner waitress named Debora (Lilly James), and the two plan to run off with each other. Before they can run off and live happily ever after, Baby must complete his most challenging job of all with the most dangerous criminals in the city: Buddy (Jon Hamm), Buddy’s girlfriend Darling (Eiza González), and Bats (Jamie Foxx).
Baby Driver is essentially a Transporter movie minus the over-the-top action and the abtastic Jason Statham. What it does better than those three films (*The Transporter Refueled never happened, it just didn’t*) is having an actual story, better characters, and sharp dialogue. In other words, if Edgar Wright ever made a Transporter movie, it’d look something like this. Wright is able to put his stamp on what is otherwise a story we’ve seen done over and over again, and he gets a lot out of what is an all-star ensemble cast.
Kevin Spacey delivers another fine performance as the crime lord Doc, and he shows no signs of slowing down as one of the best actors in the game. Newcomer actress Eiza González is a sultry villainous, and she commands your attention with her stunning looks and acting abilities anytime she’s on screen. Lilly James also delivers a solid performance as Baby’s love interest, as her free spirited young self represents this generation’s feelings on life and adult responsibilities to a t.
While I can’t get over the fact I feel he’s just a younger version of Josh Hartnett, Ansel Elgort is solid as a leading man. However, while his quirky trait of playing music during getaways functions well within the premise of the film, he has another quirk in which he carries a recorder around with him, records people, and then creates music with the recording. The film tries to play this up for laughs to make you believe he’s unique, but it comes across as awkward. He also has no issue with singing aloud in public, something that seems more irritating than endearing. It’s Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm who steal the show as Bats and Buddy respectively. Both are veteran actors who are at a point in their careers where they are open to playing more character parts than being leading men. While Hamm’s Buddy has a quiet but deadly demeanor about him, Foxx’s Bats is a swaggering lunatic, making both scene stealers in the film due to their ability deliver Wright’s exceptional dialogue.
While the performances and dialogue are components of the film we expect to be done well, it’s Wright’s filming of the action scenes that is most surprising. Wright is able to film the chase scenes in such a way you can actually tell what’s occurring onscreen. On top of that, they’re thrilling and action packed, something we don’t typically expect from Wright even though he’s done it before in his previous films. We’ve come to know Wright for his writing capabilities and ability to make us laugh, but he’s actually one of the better action scene filmers working in Hollywood.
With its great performances, witty dialogue, and have you on the edge of your seat action, Baby Driver is an action-thriller that never takes its foot off the gas. A prime example that you don’t necessarily need giant robots or super heroes to make an enthralling summer action film. While it is essentially the hipster incarnation of a Transporter movie, you can chalk up Baby Driver as another win in the illustrious career of Edgar Wright.
Rating: 3/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.