Baby Driver does a lot of things right, but what it does best is weave its music into every scene with perfection. Director Edgar Wright is at the top of his game and each moment is fun and engaging. Where he shines above all else, though, is in that soundtrack. This is a full multimedia experience that makes any frame a work of audio and visual storytelling.
Unlike other films that define themselves by their tracklist, the music here is essential. Attentive viewers will note that all of the tracks we hear are a part of the scene. That music connects us to the character and represents what Baby himself is hearing. He sings to it, mouths the lyrics, dances to it, and you can see that the melodies have a physical presence in each moment. This tangible element to the melodies sets Baby Driver apart from the rest.
I also really appreciated that it didn’t feel like the same tracks I’ve heard repeatedly in music-heavy films. The tracklist is diverse and a little bit obscure. It’s noticeably fresh and thoughtful. One of the first things I did after walking out of the movie was dig into some of the gems all throughout that I don’t hear very often.
Almost as good as the sound is the acting. Over-the-top performances from Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, John Hamm, Lily James, Ansel Elgort, and Jon Bernthal all rock the theater. I cannot express how much fun Kevin Spacey is to watch in everything he does. The worst parts of the movie, heavy-handed expositions, are completely forgivable when they flow from Spacey’s lips. The man may be one of the best actors alive today. He is interesting and compelling no matter what role he takes. Additionally, you can tell that every single person around him is striving to keep pace, which elevates the overall quality.
The weakest element here is the story. Baby Driver is beautiful for the ways that it explores storytelling, scene construction, character development, and even for how it evolves car chases, but Shakespeare it is not. The plot is a blunt instrument that allows Edgar Wright and the cast to stand out in high contrast.
That said, it’s not a bad story. Baby Driver is a crime drama about a kid in debt to a criminal mastermind. He pays his debt by driving getaway cars from high profile heists. Though he wants out, Baby is compelled back in through threats of violence. Even in this clear-cut narrative, Baby Driver manages to subvert expectations and produce three-dimensional characters.
All of these wonderful elements helped me forgive the things that are subpar here. There’s plenty of exposition, and while delivered in a playful and enjoyable tone, it’s still heavy-handed and noticeable. I’m a little disappointed that Edgar Wright didn’t find more to say with the narrative. Though filled with moving sound and an original voice, Baby Driver is satisfied to be a popcorn flick. It may be one of the best popcorn flicks ever made, and that is a high distinction, but it is what it is.
If you have any love at all for intense action, enthralling acting, heart-pumping music, or meticulous directing, you’ll love it. Baby Driver is the best thrill ride in years, and I spent the whole film almost dancing in my seat.
|Final Verdict:||Easy to recommend because of its soundtrack, but it delivers on almost every other merit as well.|