Length: 112 minutes / 1.87 hours
There are so many “heist” films nowadays that it’s practically its own genre, with all the tropes and clichés that go with it. Consequently, when I learned that Edgar Wright had directed a heist film, my interest was piqued. Best known for his parody comedies, Shaun of the Dead(2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013), the film of his I have enjoyed the most is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). His style is distinct throughout these films, which is what I was hoping for in Baby Driver (2017).
While Wright’s visual style is present in Baby Driver, it is muted, almost in the background of the standard heist framework. With an almost 1980’s undertone, Baby Driver takes many cues from its predecessor, Drive (2011). Both feature an almost silent heist driver as the main character and plenty of entertaining driving sequences that are practically ballet on the boulevards. Fortunately, both films also focus on the characters, and not so much on the heist, giving personality to their actions. Aside from the likable and titular Baby (Ansel Elgort), Kevin Spacey seems to be satiated through all the scenery he chews (to entertaining effect), and Jon Hamm was almost recognizable with his rough stubble and attitude.
Granted, Baby Driver is not the goofball comedy I expected. Instead, the film is almost musical, revealing the rhythm in everything by overlaying the action on screen with a curated set-list of obscure and catchy tunes. Sure, the film feels more “mainstream,” but it’s also trying to do something new. Synching up bullets to rhythms and wads of cash to downbeats almost goes unnoticed unless you’re taking in the whole experience. At the very least, we know what music Edgar Wright likes, and I must say that I approve (especially of the “Hocus Pocus” sequence, which is a song that should be in more action sequences (like Robocop (2014) did to similar effect)).
A standard heist film with fun music, engaging characters, and flashy driving, I give Baby Driver 4.0 stars out of 5.