Sitting in Theatre 13 waiting impatiently for the previews to be over. Popcorn in one hand, Coca-Cola in the other, while my eyes were glued to the screen. Two hours later I extended applause, neglecting the confused glances around me. The next day, my friends ask with bated breath
“Are you done with Baby Driver now???” My response, “Nope.”
“Baby Driver” is Edgar Wright’s fifth directorial feature and the first of his to be made in America. The film stars Ansel Elgort as the titular Baby, a young getaway driver with tinnitus. This constant ringing in his ears is drowned out by a soundtrack that has no peers when it comes to its wide range of genres and perfect integration into the story. Everything seems fine working for Doc (Kevin Spacey), [a modern-day Joe Cabot of “Reservoir Dogs”] (a film that Edgar has cited as an inspiration) until Baby meets Debora (Lily James). Baby is faced with a fork: escape with his new love or stay in this world of money, sex, drugs, and action. Most of this plot sounds very standard (a criminal falling in love and trying to start again) but the execution overpowers these conventions. Right from the opening credits, we are in Baby’s world and don’t leave until the credits roll. The Sony logo’s ding immediately morphs into a ring, Baby’s tinnitus! The audio department deserves endless accolades for how they handled his condition. When the earbuds are out, a quiet whine haunts the background toeing the line of noticeable but not distracting. But when the earbuds are in “Baby Driver” it feels like a musical! Editing, movements, shot selection, production design are all synchronized to the perfect soundtrack that Edgar Wright has been composing for the past 20 years. Weaving Dave Brubeck with Queen, The Beach Boys, The Damned, Focus and (of course) Simon & Garfunkel. Baby’s eclectic music taste feels natural as Ansel Elgort commits 100% to a character that is 100% consumed by his music; steps, pivots, turns and even blinks are synced up with a laser-like precision that is played off with a casual swagger that is so fun to watch! As a big Edgar Wright fan (some say an evangelist) “Baby Driver” is perfect. I have been recommending it to every person that talks to me. The story and structure are mainstream enough to bring in everyone but the detailed construction will give film geeks everywhere something to pour over and discuss. Baby Driver is a cult hit in the making and won’t end up in the rearview mirror anytime soon.