Baby Driver

Baby Driver (2017) Working Title Films. Written and directed by Edgar Wright.

I really like Edgar Wright’s work. Going right back to the television cult classic Spaced (1999-2001) I’ve been a fan. But Wright was around before that, working with British comedy luminaries such as Bill Bailey and Alexei Sayle and making music videos.

Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013) (collectively known as ‘The Cornetto Trilogy’) are all excellent movies, though I’m still not entirely sold on the second half of The World’s End. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) is, in my opinion, an often overlooked minor masterpiece, using some interesting methods to bring Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel to the screen. (If you haven’t seen it, go do it – you can thank me later).

So, what about Baby Driver? First, and arguably foremost, it’s a heist film, in the classic tradition of The Italian Job (1969) and a car chase movie, paying homage to films such as The French Connection (1971). Into this frenetic mix, Wright has put an amazing soundtrack and a solid cast. Many of the characters are archetypes but I found by the final act, I was totally invested in Doc (gloriously played by Kevin Spacey), Baby (Ansel Elgort) and his love interest, Debora (Lily James), who has surprisingly few lines but makes the most of her screen time. John Hamm, Jaime Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez and C J Jones are excellent in support.

While Wright is on record as saying most of the car chase scenes were done without a lot of CG assistance, I think the real unsung heroes of this film are cinematographer, Bill Pope and editors, Jonathon Amos and Paul Machliss. Their work here is exemplary, with the end product being possibly the first Car Chase Heist Musical.

This is a project that Edgar Wright has been wanting to make for many years. There’s echoes of Baby Driver in much of his previous work, (have a look at the music video for ‘Blue Song’ by UK duo Mint Royale from 2003) and he finally started it properly when he famously (and some would say wisely) walked away from Ant-Man (2015).

Apart from possibly spawning a new sub genre, there’s nothing new or groundbreaking with Baby Driver – but it’s incredibly entertaining, and surely with the current state of our world, that’s not such a bad thing. On reflection, I’d rather have Baby Driver than a Wright-directed Ant-Man 😀

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