Last night’s screening of Baby Driver opened with an introduction from its director, Edgar Wright. The intro was replayed again immediately after he’d finished, due to some kind of projection room cock-up I guess, but anyway… During the intro he described how Baby Driver had been the movie he’d always wanted to make over the last 20 years or so. A real passion project of his, featuring no CGI or green screen work and simply showcasing his love for big movie car chases, which he hoped we would enjoy as much as he’d enjoyed bringing it to life. To cut a long story short, I did enjoy it – a lot!
The movie immediately hits us with one of those elaborate car chases we were promised, introducing us at the same time to some of the core cast as they prepare to carry out a robbery. Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the driver of the getaway car, ear buds in, lining up the perfect music track to accompany the remarkably elaborate and satisfying action that follows. Later, we learn that Baby lost his parents at a very young age when they were all involved in a tragic car accident and this left Baby with tinnitus in his ears. Because of this he likes to listen to music in order to drown out the noise in his ears and is rarely without his ear buds and a perfectly chosen track. After stealing from crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) when he was barely able to see over the top of a steering wheel, he now works for Doc, paying him back for what he stole one job at a time. He lives with and cares for his foster father, who is deaf, and in his spare time he likes to make his own music using recordings he’s made from conversations between other gang members. He’s now just one job away from paying Doc back in full and Baby already has his sights on a future beyond this life of crime. That future takes the form of Debora (Lily James), who works in the diner where his mum used to work. They begin a relationship and make plans to leave their lives behind, heading off out on the open road to see where life will take them. Baby just needs to finish this one last job.
Doc likes to use a different gang for each job, with Baby always operating as the getaway driver, and this next job introduces us to a few new faces, including hardened criminal Bats (Jamie Foxx). The job doesn’t quite go to plan though meaning that the intense getaway drive that follows isn’t as perfectly executed as Baby planned. Consequently, he has to rewind his accompanying choice of music in order to realign the choreography of the drive. Everything in Babys life has that perfect accompanying piece of music for it.
With the job over, and Baby and Doc now ‘straight’, it looks like Babys relationship goals are on track for that happy ending. However, when Baby runs into Doc while out on a date with Debora and he tells Baby “I said we were straight, but did you think we were done?”, it’s clear that things aren’t really going to be plain sailing. Doc goes from being firm but fair, with a streak of paternal caring, to calm menace, wonderfully played by Spacey in that way he’s so good at. Baby agrees to do another job for him, but plans to split and run with Debora before the job starts.
From there, the remaining final hour unfolds into a glorious roller-coaster ride of action and edge-of-seat adrenaline. Things go wrong and repeatedly get a whole lot worse. I also lost count of the number of times I thought that it was all over and that Baby and Debora were going to head off on their happily ever after, only for something else to happen.
After not having much to do early in the movie, gang member Buddy (Jon Hamm) becomes an important and hugely enjoyable part of the final act and the rest of the cast all step up a gear too. Bats, becoming increasingly unstable, Buddys beautiful girlfriend and partner in crime Darling (Eiza González), and of course Spacey who manages to deliver some big laugh out loud moments while still remaining cool, calm and menacing. Debora as a character feels as a little under-developed but she’s still fantastic and both her and Baby make for a totally convincing couple. You just can’t help but root for them and wonder if they’ll ever break free of the lives that they’re in.
Edgar Wright has put together an outstanding and truly original movie. The intense and action packed final hour or so totally brings this up to a 5 star level for me. Highly recommended.