Brewed from the comedic mind of Edgar Wright, Baby Driver brings out another film this year that deftly blends cinematography and musicality. This year has played host to a couple so far—Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Atomic Blonde. Unlike these two, Baby Driver isn’t limited by a decade or the film’s emotional tone.
While other films use music to either enhance tonality or cast a melodic background to a scene, Baby Driver creates movement around specific songs. Every step, every finger tap, every turn is carried by a beat. Even high-octane action scenes are set with existing hits from the past. My foot was relentlessly tapping to the beat throughout the movie. It’s like watching an hour-and-a-half-long music video, stopping a few beats short of being an actual musical.
This, of course, doesn’t take away from Edgar Wright’s brilliance as a director. There is no bad scene in the movie. Except for a few uses of CGI, each shot is raw, real, and beautifully choreographed. It deserves massive applause from just its two opening sequences—a high speed car chase and a single take shot.
The first car chase scene accentuates what makes this a great movie. There are no unnecessary explosions or cars flying from skyscraper to skyscraper. Baby Driver doesn’t need that. It’s just a fresh car chase with spots that are incredible but not too over-the-top. Baby Driver is just raw pulp fiction. And it knows that. There is nothing better than a film that knows what it is and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Qualities like this brought us dark horses like John Wick and, now, Baby Driver.
In between action scenes, we’ve got charming little sequences that dig us deeper into Baby, our protagonist’s character. Working for Doc (Kevin Spacey), a heist kingpin, Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver trying to pay off a debt. He’s saddled with tinnitus so he always keeps an iPod on just to drown out the ringing.
From the second opening sequence, we learn exactly how his entire life is driven by music, not through dialogue exposition, but just how the scene was directed. It’s not even depicting an emotional moment in Baby’s life. It’s just him walking to a café to get coffee. What makes it great is that Baby’s movements and how the sidewalk changes are created by the music— “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl. Additionally, it’s all done in one, single take. It’s a cinematic trick that will always have me gushing.
Plot-wise, Baby Driver isn’t even supremely spectacular. It’s about a reluctant criminal who wants to leave the gang world and live a normal life. All it takes is just one last job. But, as last jobs often go, things go haywire. Baby Driver is just one of those movies where plot isn’t on center stage. It’s a performance. It’s a wild ride that will keep your heart pumping and your foot tapping from the gas pedal to brake.