Jack Bottomley, Media Correspondent
A little while ago I was chatting to a friend and we got on to Edgar Wright.
We both had seen his films and discussed Hot Fuzz (my personal favourite of his) and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, then we branched out onto his writing work and it got me thinking.
Wright is a director who is becoming or has become an auteur whose work demands to be seen on the big screen.
It was at this point I made a comparison between the passionate British movie maker and Quentin Tarantino, in that both infuse their chosen cinematic adorations - collated over a lifetime of loving films - into their work and wear any influences proudly, not to mention both love to assemble one hell of a soundtrack.
And so it is with Baby Driver that I find this comparison given more weight, as Wright's latest cements him as a name whose films have become occasions rather than releases.
The film focuses on young getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort), who is great at what he does but is a reserved presence in the gang, constantly lost in his i-pod tracks (both as a means of keeping his crippling tinnitus at bay and sanctifying his love of music).
|Also by Jack Bottomley...|
|Review: Kingsman The Golden Circle|
|Review: The Limehouse Golem|
|Review: The Dark Tower|
|The Hitman's Bodyguard|
Baby Driver is one of the best directed films this year, as Wright's precision timing makes scenes fizzle with audio-visual connection, as the film beautifully marries sound with visuals and anchors the importance of movie sound.
The soundtrack consists of the likes of Queen, Barry White and Simon & Garfunkel (to name but a few).
But not only is it the actual soundtrack that is a work of art, so too is the rhythmic use of non-diegetic sound, as the gunshots, car door slams and foot taps all perfectly fit in with the backing track, creating many a gorgeously timed audio-visual delight and further adding to the immaculate immersion of this work of cinema from an auteur who clearly loves everything about his medium.
If you have ever walked down the street, with a track soundtracking your life, you will find that connection to Baby most striking!
Music may be the very heart to this film but this is a movie that's really about hearts and how they drive us (pun intended) both into bliss and - perhaps more often - into trouble.
Baby Driver is not one thing so much as a potpourri of genres, predominantly crime/action/romance. The influences are too many in number to list but for viewers brought up on Bullitt and The Italian Job, you will find yourself a new object of petrol-powered affection.
The car chase scenes are not all the film has to offer however, as Wright constructs a gripping crime drama centred around a unique young man desperate to getaway from the only thing he can't, in the pursuit of love and true unshackled happiness.
The cast of pure talent sings with delight, each relishing the character they have been given, all of which evoke a cinematic memory of some sort. Be it Jamie Foxx's unhinged Bats, Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez's criminal lovers Buddy and Darling or Kevin Spacey's ruthless leader Doc.
This criminal clique is evocative of many others but in its own right is one built on simmering tensions, spiralling psyches and questionable intentions.
Wright's screenplay, constantly slyly sets up later developments, most of which don't play out at all as expected. There is also a poignant piece of support from CJ Jones as Baby's deaf foster father Joseph, who has many smile inducing scenes of warmth in the film.
However Lily James warms the heart further as the waitress who sees Baby's beaming soul and in their charismatic connection, she brings it to the surface and James' Debora is a character you too will love.
That being said, this is a career making film for Ansel Elgort who delivers an incredible, even faultless, lead performance as Baby. His smile lights up the cinematorium so much you'd think the house lights had come on early and his moments of being lost in his tracks are among the most joyous cinematic sequences of the year.
This is a character destined for future fandom and this film allows Elgort to put his foot down and show off his mad skills, sweeping you away in the charm and taking you for one heck of a ride.
Wright's love of movies is akin to Scorsese. There is just something satisfying about seeing a director that not only loves but lives for movies and this film is a tribute to that love and its many genre strands.
The climax to Wright's story may split some, as the action becomes more plentiful (akin to the way it did in Django Unchained) but never once did my admiration waver for this superbly directed ride that's care and craft is visible in every frame.
Whether Baby Driver is the best movie this year is a debatable point purely down to your movie going tastes, however an inarguable point is that this is the year's coolest film. In fact, remember the hype surrounding Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive (a film sharing some similarities with Wright's), well Baby Driver is the Drive of 2017.
Well made, well acted, well soundtracked and, well, awesome. Oh and, did I forget to say it's very funny too (see masks scene).
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez, CJ Jones
Release Date: Out Now
Baby Driver, 12th July 2017, 21:00 PM