If you looked at his IMDb page, you’d see that Edgar Wright has been credited as a writer, director, producer, actor, and — perhaps most impressively — self. He’s cemented in Cult Classic history with his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy featuring Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End.
He earned a diehard fan base with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and — a little more inside baseball — his satirical spaghetti western, A Fistful of Fingers. Wright’s work is inherently and empirically watchable.
Earlier this summer, Wright’s newest picture — Baby Driver — walked into the theater like it owned the place.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver working for a kingpin by the name of Doc (Kevin Spacey). Suffering from tinnitus, Baby’s got his earbuds in and music going at all times. The kid switches between a collection of iPods depending on his mood that day. I can only describe it like this: he functions to the music. Indebted to Doc for some previous indiscretions, Baby isn’t in the business for the long haul. As soon as he’s paid up, he’s out. Just like he promised his foster-father, Joseph (CJ Jones).
The team includes but is not limited to Buddy (Jon Hamm), his wife Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), and Bats (Jamie Foxx). The first time we see Baby behind the wheel, he’s playing chauffeur to Buddy, Darling, and Griff (Jon Bernthal). Their skeptisim of Baby’s abilities on the road wanes when he out runs the equivalent of about four stars in Grand Theft Auto without breaking a sweat.
Unfortunately, his next excursion — and his first time working with Bats — goes sideways. The silver lining? He and Doc are square. Feeling a weight lifted, Baby takes to the comforts of a local diner where an adorably silly waitress, Debora (Lily James), knocks his socks off with her rendition of B-A-B-Y by Carla Thomas. If love at first sight has ever been captured on-screen, it’s the exact moment when his eyes meet hers.
Regrettably, Baby is about to learn that being “square” doesn’t mean being “done” when Doc comes calling again. Doling out thinly veiled threats, he doesn’t give the kid much of a choice and they meet the next morning to scope out their next heist location — the Post Office.
As if the band was back together, Buddy, Darling, and Bats swing by to get the rundown from Doc. Apprehensive about the gig and wary of a seemingly unhinged Bats, Baby goes through with the operation. The best word I can think of to describe what happens next is “cock-up”. Anything that can go wrong does and in the end, Baby is left struggling to protect Joseph and Debora.
Earlier I mentioned that Baby requires music to move. What this movie does with that is totally remarkable. Every step, every action, every trigger pull — set to the likes of Dave Brubeck, The Beach Boys, Commodores, David McCallum, The Jon Spencer Blues Experience, and Barry White. It is a divine affair.
Not only is the soundtrack out-of-this-world, toe-tapping, head-bobbing fun, it is expertly and methodically utilized to enhance this already blissful experience. Nothing connects the brain to a moment in time like music does, and Baby Driver takes that up to eleven. It took me three screenings to pick up on precious details such as “yeah” spray painted on a pole that Baby just ran past at the same time it was said in the song that was playing.
The whole film — while being a high-octane action flick — is a well-choreographed dance; each transition as smooth and seamless as the last. I wanted to give a shout out to the stunt drivers who pulled off those sick maneuvers, but there’s about 87 of them.
The script itself felt almost entirely ad-libbed which speaks to the stellar execution of each role; all of them bringing something genuine and necessary to the endgame of the film. While the cast is comprised of what looks like effortless brilliance, Kevin Spacey needs a special mention. The guy is a treasure and a gift. Every movie he does feels like the director gives him the gist of what’s happening and he just… makes magic. I’m pretty sure he’s a wizard.
Another honorable mention, Bill Pope on cinematography, is no stranger to Wright’s movies, having worked on The World’s End and Scott Pilgrim. His fluidity and ingenuity bring to vividity the emotion being had on-screen.
It’s just a damn good time. Sitting still is not an option during Baby Driver. Suspenseful urgency feeds the audience an adrenaline shot frame-by-frame, which — I don’t know about you — is something that I crave in movies. Especially summer blockbusters.
Baby Driver has been out for a couple of months now, but if it’s still playing in a theater near you, get and out and see it quickly before it’s not showing in Dolby. I feel comfortable and justified in calling it the best movie of the summer. It is Neat, Neat, Neat.