It’s the Fourth of July. It’s hot outside. Go see a movie. Go see Edgar Wright’s exuberant and rip-roaring Baby Driver. It’s tons of fun, it opened strongly over its debut weekend, and it needs great word of mouth, so that studios take more chances with films outside of the various franchises and sequel-ready items that have come to dominate, if not nearly overtake, the movie landscape. This is an R-rated blast of comic-book-inspired movie-making, heavily and lovingly aestheticized into a caffeinated cinematic frenzy; if only Tony Scott were alive to see this clever mix of bleeding-heart romanticism with bloody violence. And for the kicker — it’s not exactly the movie they are selling in the ads. Sure, you get all the car chases and shoot-outs that were promised by that absolutely amazing theatrical trailer, but there’s more here that they haven’t let on about, and I’m not going to spoil any of it.
The car chases certainly have zip and panache and are frequently howl-out-loud-exciting; credit the invaluable cinematographer Bill Pope (The Matrix Trilogy, Army of Darkness) and rambunctious editors Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss for giving this movie a serious dose of primary color sexiness and in-your-face-attitude; you have to love how the visuals are cued up with the sound-effects all throughout this movie, to say nothing of the opening stedicam shot which is worth the ticket price alone, and one of many constant surprises. The central love story is affecting and involving, with Ansel Elgort and the adorable Lily James having great chemistry; they’re both extremely photogenic which also helps matters. And again, because Baby Driver surprised me in various spots, I was genuinely interested in seeing how it would all turn out. Wright loves his characters, but he’s not afraid to mess them up a bit, and like many other storytellers, he wants it all by the conclusion.
The supporting cast is peppered with all-star faces enjoying the ridiculous roles they’ve been given, with everyone clearing having lots of fun putting it all together. Kevin Spacey gets some of the film’s best and most hilarious lines, Jamie Foxx is sketchy but funny as a baddie, and the camera clearly loved photographing Eiza Gonzalez from all angles – yowza! If you’re looking for a super-fun, R-rated, original-idea movie in the middle of the summer with minimal CGI-tricks and a general sense of gee-whiz-entertainment, look no further than what the supremely talented Wright has given us. Oh, and yeah, that soundtrack is pretty cool, too. This is one of those movies that people claim to want to see but then take their time deciding if they’ll support it in the theater, and it’s the kind of movie that needs support to encourage more projects like this to get the greenlight from the suits.
Review by Nick Clement