Pure Horsepower: Our Review of ‘Baby Driver’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 27, 2017
Pure Horsepower: Our Review of ‘Baby Driver’

Music has always been known to move people, but some guys just take it to the next level…

While admittedly an exercise in pure style, Baby Driver is the unequivocal pinnacle of excellence in style and entertainment as this crime drama, romance, almost musical plays out exactly as it is supposed to with a ‘joie de vivre’ that hasn’t been seen on the screen in one hell of a long time.

It takes a simple moment of youthful indiscretion to turn Baby (Ansel Englort) into a talented young getaway driver who uses the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the very best wheel man on the streets.  However all that changes when he meets the girl of his dreams (Lily James) because now Baby sees a chance to ditch his criminal life and make a clean getaway but it’s not that simple.  After being coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey) one last time, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.

Yes the narrative is a little thin when looking at this on paper, but in Baby Driver the substance of it all is truly the pure and glorious style that Edgar Wright applies to the frame with not only visuals and a killer soundtrack but some solid performances to boot.

Edgar Wright as writer/director brings his full powers to bear here with Baby Driver as he takes so many different genres and blends them into a formula that has pitch perfect balance and plays with such shockingly smooth clarity that you wonder why everything hasn’t been mashed together like this before in films past.  He steps up to the plate as an action director and gives us sequences that prove how right his love for action was 10 years ago when he made Hot Fuzz.  It’s easily the largest production he’s ever worked on and with the deft hand of cinematographer Bill Pope it makes us wish for the day (that almost happened with Ant-Man) that someone gives $100 million dollars and the blessing to do whatever he damn well pleases with it.  The visual paint a high octane portrait and the characters fit into it all like a glove.  Rather than having the style outweigh the substance, Wright marries them in a ‘pas de deux’ that is rarely seen on screen.  It’s a movie where the action, the slick visuals, the music and the performances all thrive on each other to survive, nothing lives in a vacuum and everything about this movie just thrives with an unshakable rhythm to the point that this is basically a musical film, without any solos or ‘Broadway’ type moments.

The characters all do fit into somewhat of a predictable archetype, but that’s OK as everyone involved is truly invested in the material.  With only a handful of credits to his name, Ansel Englort is getting better and better and carrying a picture that it is starting to be a little unfair.  He embodies the spirit of the caring, charismatic yet vulnerable hero who is in over his head quite well.  Lily James is note perfect as his ‘Snow White’ saviour while Kevin Spacey manages the right level of menace and compassion as the crime boss who caught a young Baby stealing his car and then took him under his wing to what he thought was bigger and better things.  Jon Hamm brings a sleazy charm to these underworld proceedings as someone who fell from the world of respectability and just loves the thrill of it all with his woman Eiza Gonzalez while Jamie Foxx is just as effective cracking jokes or looking menacing as all hell from one second to the next.

Ultimately, Baby Driver is such art because it uses all the elements available to the filmmakers to make an immersive and amazing experience that will play almost as good with your eyes closed as it does with them open.

This post was written by

David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.