Right when zombies became naff, Edgar Wright was there to put meat on their bones with Shaun Of The Dead. When the buddy cop craze resurfaced, he was there again, reinventing with Hot Fuzz. And as alien invasion films reigned at the box office, The World’s End loudly shifted their focus to the human.
Now, as DC and Marvel’s respective production partners attempt to exhaust their near-limitless music licences, Wright is back to redefine the “soundtrack as mixtape” trope in what may well be this year’s most thrilling action feature.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the best getaway driver there is, and is never seen without his headphones in – the music drowns out his tinnitus. Baby has just one job left for criminal entrepreneur Doc (Kevin Spacey) before their debt is repaid, but then he meets Debora (Lily James), the woman of his dreams, and his final heist threatens to destroy everything he holds dear.
Picture Drive as directed by the antithesis of Nicolas Winding Refn, and you’ll get something close to Baby Driver. Much like Ryan Gosling’s character before him, Baby is a man of few words with mysterious motives – but this time, we’re allowed in to the character’s world and what he’s willing to do to protect what he loves.
Picture Drive as directed by the antithesis of Nicolas Winding Refn, and you’ll get something close to Baby Driver.
More importantly, Wright is first and foremost an entertainer, and can take even the most rote sequence and load it with comic ingenuity. Take the opening scene of the film, with its utterly perfect employment of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (the director’s favourite band); or the scene following, a long shot of Baby walking down the street which proves that Wright is the easter-egg king.
He’s landed a fantastic cast – The Fault In Our Stars heartthrob Elgort employs every inch of charm he has, and proves frighteningly proficient when the shit hits the fan. His co-crims include Jamie Foxx’s legitimately insane thug, Jon Hamm’s two-faced terror Buddy, and Eiza González’s genre-perfect Darling. While Debora is undoubtedly a damsel, Lily James is as believable as she is dazzling. Plus, there’s musical cameos galore (this film could not be more BRAG friendly).
If it takes jacking a car to get to this movie before its cinematic run ends, just make sure you have the right playlist for the joyride.
Then there’s Kevin Spacey, cashing in on his entire career’s worth of credentials to sell crime boss Doc as the film’s comic ace-in-the-hole. Every second of his screen time is magic. And the action sequences! Baby’s absurd driving skills and the malevolence of his foes make these scenes more gripping than any of Baby Driver’s contemporaries – Fast & Furious included.
It would not be overstatement to declare Edgar Wright one of the most important popular filmmakers of his era. If it takes jacking a car to get to this movie before its cinematic run ends, just make sure you have the right playlist for the joyride.
Baby Driver hits Aussie screens on Thursday July 13.Write a Letter to the Editor